Shootout: Honda Civic LX Coupe vs. Volkswagen Golf TSI S 2-door for affordable sporty compact supremacyA Shootout between a pair of venerable two-door compacts, the Honda Civic LX Coupe vs. the Volkswsagen Golf TSI S 2-door. Which is the best way to spend $20,000?
[MUSIC] Sport compacts like the Honda Civic Si and Volkswagen Golf GTI are a lot of fun, but sadly carry price tags that may be a tad steep for some. Luckily, there are more affordable versions of each car that still offer more attractive looks than their four-door counterparts, and manual transmissions for maximum motor and excitement. The question now is seeing what exactly you get for $20,000. Today I'm driving the Civic Coupe. Visually, it's a far cry from the dull previous generation Civic, with a design featuring a more distinctive face, curvy body lines, flashy alloy wheels, and LED day-time running lights. And I happen to think it looks fantastic. Powering it is a two liter, four cylinder engine with 158 horsepower and 138 pound feed of torque connected to a six-speed manual transmission. It's got a fuel economy rating of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway. And the cost of this slick little number? Just 19,885 bucks. As for me, I'm in charge of representing an archetype of vehicular sensibility, the Volkswagen Golf. This one might look relatively similar to it's forbearer but rest assured it's an all new car atop an all new chassis. This specific car is the TSI S model. Equipped with a 1.8 Ltr Turbocharged inline 4. Good for 170 Horse Power and 199 Pound Feet of Torque. Made into a 5 speed manual transmission this not so hot hatch achieves 25 MPG city and 37 MPG highway. And all for 20,395 out the door. Today we're driving the Volkswagen golf TSIS is actually quite lovely. But virtue of the fact that it has smaller wheels, it has larger sidwalls on the tires, which allow it to soak up the bumping and jostling, and kind of the bad experiences of being on the road. And if you live in Michigan Most of the roads are bad experience. What are the benefits of moving up to the TSIF from the base model is this lovely six and a half inch [UNKNOWN] touchscreen. It has proximity censors, so when you move your hand close everything is a little bit bigger and that kinda pops up and gives you few more options What you also get with it, is what Volkswagen calls app connect which is it's own proprietary system of connecting your phone and your infotainment system to just kind of expand it's ability. Another benefit that comes with this infotainment system is apple car play in android auto. Both bring the power of your smartphone whether it's apps or just the general user experience from your phone to the touch screen infotainment system. What the Golf loses by having two doors, it makes up for with its hatchback. Adding height to the roof gives rear seat passengers loads of head room, although its leg room leaves a little bit to be desired when compared around the segment. The hatch also makes cargo storage a breeze, with a large low trunk opening and 22.8 cubic feet of space. With rear seats folded flat, you can fit just about anything back there except maybe a full size refrigerator as cargo volume expands to 52.7 cubic feet. The rest of the interior is quite nice in its simplicity. I know Volkswagen is usually on the conservative side of design but I really think that the Mark 7 Golf General layout of the dashboard and the wheels and the gauges. It all kind of speaks to a higher price point than you're actually getting. This doesn't really feel like a $20,000 car, it feels more like a $30,000 car. Which is actually great because when you buy the $30,000 golf you get exactly the same thing. Like I said with the outside I'm also a fan of the interior. It's not a boring design Design in here. It's actually got a nice layered look to it, and it's built from nice materials. On top of that, the seating position, at least for me, is really comfortable, and it stays impressively quiet in here on the road. With two less doors, function obviously takes a back seat a little on the Civic Coupe. Even still, front passengers won't have any space issues. And has a decent amount of legroom in the back, but the coupe's faster refine means rear headroom does suffer. Which is still fine for short passengers, but taller occupants probably will not enjoy spending an extended period of time back there. Overall the cabin does feel rather spacious though. The interior is intuitively laid out with clearly marked entertainment and climate controls and there are plenty of cubbies to hold items. As for the trunk, it features a large opening to make loading and unloading items nice and easy. And while it doesn't match the Golf's outright cargo carrying capabilities, the Civic's trunk still features a not too shabby 12.1 cubic feet of space. And if you have to transport longer items, the rear seats easily fold down. So it's not entirely bare bones in here. There are some premium features, kind of like the steering wheel audio controls Automatic headlights and an automatic climate control system. As for the tech menu inside of the Civic Cadillac it's a little light. There's a five inch color central infotainment screen. There's a four speaker sound system. There's Bluetooth it's got USB ports. If you want stuff that's more advance Apple Card Play, [INAUDIBLE] navigation, satellite radio that doesn't become available until you get to the EX model. [NOISE] Some others may want safely push the car a little harder possibly during a weekend track day with some modifications or a tire torturing autocross like this one where we're really able to see what this car is made of. So out on a tight autocross that we have here it's Kind of like the worse enemy to a front-wheel drive car, especially one on all-season tires. This car is on Firestone, which aren't the greatest. It's not too much grip there. But, even still, when you're thrown into a corner, you can kind of, manipulate the car. You can do a lot of foot breaking, trying to get the rear end around. And, it doesn't Fairly well that way. Power from the two liter engine is pretty good. It's a linear power band. From midrange all the way up to redline, it pulls really nicely to help you get out of these tight corners around this track. The six speed manual, I think Honda makes the best manuals out there, and it's no different here in the Civic. Just nice, smooth Fluid shifts. A nice, light clutch that's easy to modulate. Steering, nice, light, accurate, not too much feedback but it does all right here. [MUSIC] [SOUND] [MUSIC] Here are the $20,000 Volkswagen Golf We're not expecting a lot of power and we're not getting a lot of power, Especially with this tall gearing it makes it very awkward on the Auto Cross course. Half the time you're not even in the torque range. Here's what I like about the Golf on the Auto Cross course, The steering is absolutely lovely, Turning is- Super sharp. It feels like there's just the right amount of weight over the wheels, so even when you have your angle locked in, you think your gonna give it, to give it just a little bit more, it will kind of tuck in and go with it. [MUSIC] [SOUND] I had a lot of fun tossing these little compacts around in the streets and in the auto cross. And I have to say, there's a lot of things about the Golf that I do like. For instance, it does ride a little more comfortably on the road. It's a little tighter in the Auto cross, and obviously it wins the competition for [INAUDIBLE] caring. Absolutely. I agree with all those things and I really do think those are all valid points. There are plenty of things I like about the Civic as well. I do quite like the six speed manual transmission. I do find the five lacking in the Golf. I also happen to enjoy the engine, it feels a bit peppier, despite being downrated compared to the Golf, once again. And overall, I really do like the styling. I originally thought I was more a fan of the demure kind of Golf attitude, but really that rear end on that Civic is just, it's one of the hottest looking cars there is. So what didn't you like about the Honda, then? Well when it comes to dislikes I think the dashboard is a bit too long. It kind of cuts into the interior space a bit and makes it feel a bit more cavernous when it might not necessarily need to be. I think it rides a bit more stiffly as well which kind of ruins the daily driveability just a smidge. As for you what sort of trash talk do you have for the golf? Well, that small turbo engine, I'm sorry is dead below the waist. The five [INAUDIBLE] transmission is geared way too high. And the sound in the car, it's boring in my opinion. But we're at the end of this little shindig which means one thing. We have to pick a winner and honestly it's a lot harder than I would've imagined. When it comes down to it, if one of these cars is 100, the other is a 98 and Against all my logic and everything I would've thought coming in to this, I'd have to pick the Civic. I'm actually pretty much exactly on the same page as you. And so that means the winner of this Road Show Shootout between $20,000 compact cars is the Honda Civic. [NOISE]