2018 Honda Civic Si vs Hyundai Elantra Sport

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Even though the Hyundai Elantra Sport is kind of new on the scene, it’s already become a natural rival for the well-established Honda Civic Si.

Both cars come with a turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood, a slick shifting six-speed manual, four doors of practicality, and upgraded components to enhance handling and performance. They require just about the same amount of greenbacks to park in your garage.

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Hyundai’s Real Sport Compact

The Elantra Sport has been on the scene for about a year now, giving sport compact addicts their fix of boost while Honda got their act together. It was impressive when it debuted, improving the already enjoyable sixth-generation Elantra even further. The 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine convincingly sends 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels, helping to make this 3,000-pound car feel fast enough to tackle any situation on the street. Hyundai even unleashes its inner punk-rocker in the Elantra Sport, as the car has a rowdy exhaust note, which growls and rumbles with personality.

See Also: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport Review

The test model provided featured a six-speed manual transmission, which felt slick and engaging. Even the clutch action is easy and natural. If the Korean automaker set out to emulate what critics unanimously praised about past Civic Si models, they’d have arrived with this nearly perfect transmission feel. Hyundai also factors in the non-manual driving demographic with the Elantra Sport by offering a seven-speed dual clutch transmission as well.

Driving Impressions

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The response is good, and the car pulls away really nicely at first, but that satisfied feeling quickly fades away as you reach the top of the tach. Peak torque is available between 1,500 and 4,500 rpm while peak power happens at 6,000 rpm. It’s very quirky how quickly the engine loses steam after that, though. From a standstill, the angry-sounding compact hits highway speeds in under seven seconds.

But what else does the car do? It handles pretty well thanks to some improved suspension components. The most significant change over the normal Elantra is a fully independent rear suspension setup, rather than a semi-independent one. Finally untethered, this suspension allows the car to handle much more competently than we ever thought a front-wheel-drive Hyundai could. The same can be said about the steering, which is very responsive and far above what “sporty” Hyundais have offered in the past. Sure there’s not much feedback, but this is a huge improvement for the Korean automaker, which had lifeless, bland steering feel just a few short years ago.

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Some additional pieces of the puzzle are the 18-inch wheels that are wrapped with some high-performance all-season rubber. There are also bigger brake rotors as well, which help keep things composed when it’s time to slow down.

It’s hard to be upset with the Hyundai. It sets a really high benchmark. The only disappointment when driving the Elantra Sport comes from an occasional disconnect; sometimes it’s a case of understeer ,other times there’s some torque steer. It ends up not feeling as composed and confident as the Civic.

Design and Pricing

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It definitely looks more swanky and smooth than the Civic, which is a bit of a styling abomination from some angles. The interior of the Elantra is quite nice with sporty red accents and there are no complaints about the fit and finish. I love the infotainment system and the leather seats are really high-end feeling as well. There’s a good amount of space in the rear seats, and the cargo space won’t disappoint.

Also See: 2017 Honda Civic Si Review

It neatly fits into a budget too, with a price tag that starts at $22,485 (or $25,126 Canadian). That said, how much better can the strange looking Civic Si be?

Compare Specs

Honda Civic Si Sedan
vs
Hyundai Elantra Sport
Vehicle Honda Civic Si Sedan Advantage Hyundai Elantra Sport
Engine 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder-1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower 205 hp Civic Si201 hp
Torque 192 lb-ftElantra Sport195 lb-ft
Transmission 6-speed manual-6-speed manual/ 7-Speed DCT
Fuel Economy (MPG) 28 MPG City, 38 MPG Highway, 32 CombinedCivic26 MPG City 33 MPG Highway 29 MPG Combined (DCT)
Fuel Economy (L/100 km) 7.4 City, 5.6 Highway, 6.6 CombinedCivic 10.7 City, 7.8 Highway, 9.4 Combined
Weight 2,906 lbCivic 3,131 lb
Price (USD) $24,775 USDElantra Sport $22,485 USD
Price (CAD) $28,590 Elantra Sport $24,999

Non-VTEC Honda Civic Si

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Under the hood of this Japanese four-door is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that pumps out 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, barely trading wins with the Hyundai. It no longer packs the meme-worthy VTEC technology, but that’s not a big deal as the engine feels far more impressive than those figures would suggest. Highway speeds arrive a bit quicker than in the Hyundai, and while the car doesn’t sound as impressive or unique as the Elantra, it definitely had me smiling all the way to redline. Maybe it’s the slightly lighter curb weight, as the Civic tips the scales at around 2,900 lb.

Unlike the Hyundai, there’s only one transmission choice for the Civic Si. As much as the Elantra Sport matches previous sporty Civics, the new Si’s six-speed manual simply one-ups its rival in terms of shifter feel, which is buttery smooth. There’s also a limited-slip front differential that helps with power delivery and handling in a way that was lacking in the Hyundai.

See Also: 2017 Honda Civic Si vs Volkswagen GTI

Adding to all this are selectable drive modes that help make the Civic feel like a standard compact car when you’re not pushing it hard, and then like a next-level front-wheel-drive sport compact when you’re feeling more excitable.

Suspension success

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The drive modes tie into the Civic Si’s adaptive dampers. That’s right, a suspension feature that’s typically reserved for much more expensive vehicles like sports cars or luxury cruisers now comes standard on the Civic Si. The ride definitely firms up when the car is thrown into sport mode, and is even quite enjoyable in the normal mode thanks to beefed-up stabilizer bars. Like the Elantra, the Civic gets bigger brakes as well.

The rest of the upgrades in the Honda are less exciting. The interior isn’t a far cry from the standard Civic, featuring bolstered cloth seats with red stitching and accents. There’s also red stitching found throughout the cabin, and fake carbon-fiber trim, too. While the Elantra has a sporty-sounding exhaust, the Civic has a sporty-looking setup with a wide center-mounted exit on the rear bumper.

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Both cars feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, and I do like the modern looking digital dash and displays in the Civic, although the infotainment system is a complete pain in the butt and it’s worth pointing out that there’s no volume knob on the center console.

The rear and cargo area are more spacious than the Elantra, and the Civic is more fuel efficient, earning 32 MPG combined, where the Elantra nets a 25. That might not be a huge priority in this sporty segment, but that is a huge gap between a couple cars with similar weight and performance.

Back-to-back

Pushed on the same roads, it’s the Civic that leaves me the most satisfied. Although it doesn’t sound as exciting or rowdy as the Hyundai, it’s more engaging, faster and confidence-inspiring. I simply never got tired of the Civic’s shifter, and the ability to change between a sporty drive and a more sedate one feels almost revolutionary after dealing with harsh, jittery sport-compacts for all these years.

Furthermore, the Civic Si ends up feeling more mature and grown up thanks to that split personality.

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The Verdict: 2018 Honda Civic Si vs Hyundai Elantra Sport

Getting into a Civic Si costs just $24,775, which is a bit more than the Elantra, but the drive and sophistication of the Honda is definitely worth it. However, if you are repulsed by the out-there styling of the Civic, the Hyundai is a fine consolation prize.

Discuss this story on our Elantra Sport Forum or Civic Forum.

Honda Civic Si

Hyundai Elantra Sport