How many Civic-versus-Jetta races do you reckon have taken place over the years? These old rivals in the front-wheel-drive world have battled for 40 years, and in 2022 that rivalry is alive and well. The current-generation Civic Si is only available in sedan format, as is the Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Both feature turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Both turn just the front wheels. Both are billed as performance models. And both are priced near $30,000.
Do they have similar performance? A quick look at the stats suggests the Jetta holds an advantage. Its boosted 2.0-liter engine dishes up 228 horsepower (170 kilowatts) compared to 200 hp (149 hp) in the Civic. The torque difference is even greater, with the VeeDub generating 258 pound-feet (350 Newton-meters) versus 192 lb-ft (260 Nm). Furthermore, the Jetta GLI for this race features a quick-shifting DSG transmission compared to the Honda's six-speed manual. The only on-paper statistic in the Civic Si's favor is weight, checking in approximately 200 pounds lighter.
Gallery: 2022 Volkswagen Jetta and Jetta GLI
It doesn't look good for the Honda, and that's generally what plays out in real life. We say generally because the Civic Si makes a strong showing in the face of the stronger German sedan, pulling out to small initial leads in three races. The video features two roll races with one from a standstill, and in each instance, the clutch-operated Honda manages to grab a slight advantage. It's not entirely clear if the Jetta GLI's abilities were used to their full potential, but regardless of the reason, the plucky Si didn't go down without a fight.
Make no mistake, however. The Honda did lose each race. A 200-pound advantage isn't nearly enough to compensate for a 28-hp disadvantage, never mind the torque bump. And the DSG changes gears infinitely quicker than any human could possibly hope to achieve. That is, when you use the gearbox manually to start a roll race. The only reason the Si jumped to a brief lead on the last run is because the Jetta had to execute a quick downshift once the race started. The Si was already in the right gear with the revs up.
But at the end of the day, it didn't matter. This victory goes entirely to Volkswagen. We suspect that will change once the new Civic Type R arrives.