The Volkswagen/Honda enthusiast rivalry isn’t anything new. VW guys blast Hondas for having no torque. The Honda guys blast VWs for not being reliable. From an independent enthusiast’s perspective, though, both VW and Honda make cars that give their drivers a whole lotta satisfaction for a great price.
VW’s GTI and Honda’s Si have more in common than either of their drivers probably care to admit. Aside from the fact that each is available as a four door for the first time ever in 2007, they also both have 200-(ish)hp, 2.0-liter motors.
So they both make 100-hp per liter. The similarity ends there. Honda makes that number by revving the bejeezus out of the K20 four. The 8150-rpm fuel cutoff is the equivalent of the “liquefy” setting on your blender. ‘Dubbers would point out here that, unfortunately, the Si’s motor makes about as much torque as an Osterizer.
The Honda guys would say that VW plain cheated. It crashed Honda’s big-PP party with a strap-on–a turbocharger–on its sixteen-valve four. Anyone can add a turbo, right? Where’s the engineering?
So what’s the real deal? As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Sure, the Honda is somewhat torque-challenged. But it sounds ’effing incredible, is totally eager to please anywhere in its rev range, and did I mention the sound? The GTI is just as awesome–it has refreshingly little turbo lag, makes power from two grand on up, and sounds nearly as good.
At the magazine, we’re spoiled completely rotten with really expensive, really fast cars. And yet we all still love to drive cars like the Si and the GTI because they’re fun, rewarding drivers’ cars. The Honda and VW guys (and girls) can fight about it for the next twenty years–and I’m sure they will–but both of their powerplants are world-class pieces of engineering.
And check out the November issue of Automobile Magazine for more info on the cars.