bonita comprativa, dan como vencedor al Golfo, por poco la verdad But as much as the shuttle-pod looks of the Civic coupe differ from the traditional two-box hatch shape of the Golf, these cars actually have a lot in common. Take wheels,for instance. Both cars have four, with tires.Both cars have 2.0-liter, 200-horsepower (well,197 hp in the Civic) inline-four-cylinder engines. Also, both cars have six gears, although the GTI we tested has the optional dual-clutch direct shift gearbox (DSG). We could go on to mention that both cars have radios, five seats, and windshield wipers, and that both cost about twenty thousand dollars. This GTI is loaded up with options like navigation, sunroof, leather seats (with ass warmers), and automatic climate control. Take away the frills and the GTI's sticker price is closer to the Civic's, although Honda throws in the sunroof for free. But the similarity that fuses these two cars together like Brangelina is their common history as everyman-economy-cars-turned-icons. Back in 1983, Volkswagen created the hot-hatch segment when it brought out the Rabbit GTI. Unlike other economy cars of the time, the GTI was, well, fast, and it was nimble, thanks to its 90-horsepower engine and feathery, 1918-pound curb weight. The now-called-a-Golf GTI peaked in its second generation, with a 16-valve four that made as much as 134 horsepower from two liters. Honda likewise created something out of nothing in 1985 when it gave the tiny CRX a 91-horsepower engine that was later shared with the Civic hatchback. Honda gave both the Si suffix, and in 1988 ('89 for the Civic) power climbed to 105 hp with a 1.6-liter DOHC four. And although the Si trim was mostly found on Civic hatchbacks, the best one was arguably the 1999-2000 coupe with its 160-hp, 1.6-liter VTEC motor. Since their peaks, both cars fell off faster than a rapper caught doing needlepoint. And, like the Chalupa-stuffed waistlines here at mph, both cars have grown larger and heavier through the years. The third-generation GTI got a serious power boost courtesy of its VR6 engine, but it lost most of its agility and that blunder went unchecked with the still-heavier Golf IV. The shame of the Si only dates back to the previous-generation Si hatchback, which had a shape only the most dedicated bubble-tea drinker could love. Sure, the engine put out an ample 160 horsepower, but the tires were about as grippy as a buttered slab of lard, and handling suffered accordingly. And so these new models are here seeking redemption. Both follow the classic formula of dressing up an economy car with a hot engine, suspension, tires, and brakes. But the definition of an economy car has changed since these cars first appeared. Times demand that cheap-car interiors have quality and options equal to mainstream sedans—check the remote keyless entry, one-touch power windows, air conditioning, and CD stereos. And the other, less zooty Civics and Golfs are just as nice on the inside. But the question remains: Are either of these cars true to their original concepts and worthy of their badges? Let's start with the Civic Si. It has some seriously aggressive, futuristic styling. The windshield is raked so far back that it almost forms a continuous line with the hood. It does indeed look cool, but this Civic's true handsomeness lies underneath. It's powered by what could be Honda's best inline four; even better—certainly smoother—than the 240-hp unit in the S2000. The Civic is a better car in a straight line than the faintly turbo-laggy GTI and it overcomes a 68 lb-ft torque deficit versus the VW to hit 60 mph a tenth of a second quicker. The Civic shares another similarity with the GTI—both have direct-injection cylinder heads, which shoot fuel right into the combustion chambers. But the GTI has a turbocharger. The turbo helps the GTI make more torque (and make up for its extra 377 pounds over the Si), while the Si's au naturel engine makes its power by revving like a bastard. The Civic's throttle is more responsive than the GTI's, and despite the Honda's large gap between third and fourth gears, it's fun to work the 'box back and forth across the 5800-rpm mark just to hear the engine note switch between the VTEC system's high and low cam profiles. And it undoubtedly has the wailin'-est exhaust note of any four-cylinder car on sale. Compared with the Civic, the GTI is the more traditional car, with its now-classic shape,tuckedin greenhouse, and subdued black leather interior. The Golf also has a rear seat in which adults can sit upright without fear of soiling the headliner. The GTI's engine, while not lacking power, is less impressive—more third-chair viola to the Civic's solo violin. Accelerating in the GTI is uneventful, but the way the DSG instantaneously snaps off gear changes provides non-stop entertainment for the easily amused. Neither car has a traditional steering wheel, although the Civic's yoke looks much crazier than the flat-bottomed wheel in the Golf, with a recessed, pillow-like air-bag bulb in the center. In fact, the whole interior of the Civic is like a space-age bachelor pad, from the long expanse of the dash to the seemingly endless number of clever storage bins. Typical of Japanese thinking, the interior has strict logic underpinning it, despite the radical Shogun Warrior forms. The cabin is broken down into three "zones": one for instruments, one for controls, and one for storage. The heating and radio controls are placed perfectly and give solid feedback. Heck, the radio even remembers the volume settings between different bands. The GTI's more conventional arrangement of instruments is easier to get used to than the split display in the Si, or is at least less of a distraction. The difference could be the Golf's windshield, which is closer and more upright. The GTI is easier to place on the road, and not only because of its better sight lines. The bolstered seats are comfortable in either car, but the Golf's more upright seating position gives you a better view of the car's front corners. Also, the GTI's steering is far better than the Si's—it provides much more info than the Civic's ultra-filtered and artificially weighted wheel. Both cars have electronic-assisted steering, but the GTI's helm is tuned for ultimate feel, not ultimate effort. Its ride is also firmer, and the whole car moves as a single unit, whether turning or going over bumps. Any motion is communicated through the wheel impacts, the steering,and the well-controlled body motions. The Civic is more artificial but also more relaxed—turn-in feels fuzzier; bumps are more isolated, and so is the driver. And that's the real difference here. The GTI is better at feeling out a road and going around unfamiliar corners. It's more confidence-inspiring, and thus more fun and effectively faster. But you can't hate on the Civic Si. For the price it's incredible. The Civic takes more effort to wring out—you've got to rev the piss out of the engine to tap its power, and the steering doesn't really feel natural until you're pulling a lot of g's in a corner. But neither car is just a body kit and a label. Both succeed in staying true to their heritage and in erasing the unpleasant memories of their predecessors. In the end, though, the GTI is just more intense. It is always sniffing out corners, urging you to drive deeply into them. The Civic can lope along at low revs like its un-Si'd coupe sister, providing few hints of the insanity that lurks at the top of the rev range. The Golf GTI may cost a bit more, but it's a car that's fun all the time, even at 30 mph, so it wins.