2021 Volkswagen Jetta vs. 2022 Honda Civic: Nothing beats German engineering

There are plenty of quality cars in the compact segment. That makes comparisons between some of them very interesting, like the head-to-head between the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta and the new 2022 Honda Civic.

We won’t try to fool you here by telling you that the Civic is not a good car. It’s been the segment’s top seller for over two decades. However, in some respects, it’s wrong to assume that it’s superior in every way. Often, a model rides on its reputation. Just beware.

Then, what’s also important is the type of vehicle you’re looking for. If you don’t like to drive, you may prefer the Civic to any other model in the segment. But if you do like to get behind the wheel, you’re better off elsewhere, like Volkswagen.

Volkswagen style

Honda is still trying to figure out how to style itself. The work done with the new Civic is aimed at silencing the critics who found the old model too daring. The same goes for the interior, where everything has been cleaned up.

You don’t have that problem at Volkswagen, because the Jetta has always offered classic styling. The proof is in the pudding, if you look at the back, it’s impossible to identify a generation that you don’t find pretty today.

Volkswagen driving

The 2022 Honda Civic is a well-balanced car and it feels comfortable and reassuring to drive. However, the emotion is not there anymore, at least not like it used to be. Again, this is not a problem with Volkswagen. The Jetta offers an incredible connection with the road, which means that you always enjoy every moment behind the wheel.


This enjoyment is also reflected in the power on offer. The Civic’s base engine, a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, offers 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. That’s less interesting than the Jetta’s 1.4-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder. While the latter’s horsepower is slightly lower at 147, its torque makes all the difference at 184 lb-ft.

As you move up the lineup, you’ll find more powerful engines, but the advantage still goes to Volkswagen with the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder in the GLI version. With 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, it’s more competent than any other Honda engine, except for the Type R’s block, but the latter is priced much higher.

Manual transmission and price

Finally, it’s sad that the sedan version of the Civic no longer offers a manual transmission. With the Jetta, it’s an achievement that we’re not about to give up.

And that’s not counting the fact that there’s a difference of about $3,000 between the base price of a Jetta and that of a Civic.

Yes, the Honda Civic has a lot going for it, but as you can see, you’re far from losing out with a Jetta. In fact, in many ways, you’re getting the better deal.