Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Adil Arif - Lenzart Photography
Back when we picked up these two cars, the BMW 228i and the Honda Civic Si Coupe, we never thought about comparing them. Yes, they're both white and have red leather seats, but they come from different price classes, are made by rival countries, and are targeted towards completely different consumers. The Bimmer's base price starts $10,000 more than the Si, and with more options loaded onto it than a Porsche, the final price racks up to a steep $47,000. The 228i is turbocharged, while the Si sticks with natural aspiration. One is powered by electric steering and the other, rack and pinion - so how exactly do we compare these two when they differ in so many ways?
The idea sprouted when cruising along Yonge street in the 228i and I couldn't seem to get a riced up 2004 Civic Si off my tail. Donning ridiculous decals and bright green rims, he pursued and tailgated as my 258 lb-ft of torque piled on, but I couldn't shake those two red letters out of my rear view mirror. Wait, could the Civic Si sitting in our garage be any match for the turbocharged 228i? Speed would be no contest, checkered flag for the BMW, but I think there is one common factor, one subtle link that brings the brute and the suit together for a comparison review. And it's not in terms of price, not value, but the drive. And that sets the tone of this editorial piece - does $10,000 and a German badge offer five extra zeroes of adrenaline pumping fun? Ricer vs. Yuppie.
Starting off in the blue corner, the 2014 BMW 228i Coupe, the little brother of the esteemed M235i that we tested a few weeks ago. And don't forget, the 228i is one of the cheapest routes onto the BMW bandwagon - a 2014 BMW 320i costs around the same. Though the 228i has two less cylinders than the M235i, the amount of torque generated is still significant. The turbocharged inline-four spews up 241 hp and 258 lb-ft, enough to blast it from 0-100 km/h in under six seconds. Geared up with an eight-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is a no-cost option) and rear-wheel drive, the 228i shifts like butter and corners like magic. The small stature and near-perfect weight distribution bring back qualities that earlier BMW coupes had mastered.
In the red corner sits the JDM's car of choice, the Honda Civic Si. New for 2014 is a slight bump in horsepower and torque, stiffer spring rates, a push engine start button, and a right-turn signal camera for checking blind spots. You'll also find a new touch-screen display that is responsive but uses a touch sensitive slider to control the volume and menus. Scrolling with this is laggy and doesn't work as smoothly as you would like it to. It's similar to the problems I'm having with the Cadillac's CUE system - please just give me back my volume knobs.
On paper alone, Honda's 4-cylinder DOHC i-VTEC engine seems lackluster when stacked up against the German. Sporting 205 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, the Si is certainly lacking in the power department, best to fixate elsewhere. No sign of a turbo, front-wheel drive, and hints of understeer make this an unfair fight. The spec sheet puts the BMW ahead in a straight line, but numbers never tell the whole story. Analogous to the BRZ and FR-S, the corners are where the Si radiates. They lack power, but eat up every apex without breaking a sweat.
Civics have always been light on their feet, and the Si is a whole 130kg lighter than the 228i. Rack-and-pinion steering make the Honda more enjoyable to maneuver, it's precise and palatable. While the 228i offers tidiness and balance with its rear-wheel drive setup and electric steering, it doesn't emanate aggressiveness or feel as responsive as the Si's naturally aspirated engine - the lack of a turbo lets the Si rev to the sky. With a forgiving clutch and a gear shifter that oscillates like a metronome, it's no wonder why the Si feels more user-friendly and exploitable.
The Si screams through its entire powerband and even past its 7000 rpm red-line - just wait for that VTEC to kick in. With one less exhaust pipe than the 228i, the Si sounds better, feels better, and stimulates us with a more raw and visceral driving experience. The 228i fires up with a deep muffle and releases a well-deserving thrum, but it feels too content, too simple, almost like it's reserving some exhaust audio for a special occasion. We can sometimes hear the whiffing of air in the turbos and the light exhaust blips in low gears, but it takes concentration and ear squinting to decisively point it out.
Fun doesn't just stem from the driving experience, but also the looks. And this is where these two cars diverge into different paths. The 228i is only slightly larger than the Si and utilizes softer lines to conceal its size. We also think its conservative rear-end looks like a Volkswagen Jetta. But I love the classic kidney grills and the beautiful LED lights that glimmer like stars at night. The more popular colour combination, white and red, work well together and help accentuate the black chrome exhausts. The 228i is a sophisticated looking car, one for young professionals and a desirable first purchase. That brings us to the challenger - no matter what angle you view the Si from, it looks menacing. The U-shaped front grill blends in with the headlights to form a mean looking unibrow, and the rear spoiler is so big that it blocks half of your rear view mirror. The bellicose demeanor is slightly ruined by the sight of only one exhaust pipe, like a gangster wearing just one shoe.
Despite rough opinions about the BMW's mundane looking interior, I still think it looks great. Simplistic buttons, dials (yes, actual volume dials!), and analogue gauges. It's just a shame that every BMW interior looks the same. The Si on the other hand prefers to entertain you with contrasting seats, a billiard ball gear shifter and more flashy display screens than at Dave & Busters. There are lights for the VTEC, a digital speedometer, and even a display dedicated to show how much power you are using on the throttle. If you wanted a epileptic experience, you've got one.
There is no cast-iron winner here, but our votes have been leaning towards the Civic Si. Objectively, the 228i is better in so many areas. It's more refined, more comfortable, has a better infotainment interface, and yes, it's a better daily driver. What the 228i is lacking is a stimulating driving experience. If I wanted to purchase a small sporty coupe, I want power, I want looks but more importantly, I want exploitable drivability and that's where the Si wins my vote. Thanks to the turbo, the BMW harbours a mountain of torque but lacks a sense of occasion. Parked next to each other, the Si is the one that has me giggling like a schoolboy. That's the poster I want hung on my bedroom wall. The planetary rear spoiler and red lights flashing in the cabin bring back old memories of watching Fast and Furious as a kid. Drag races, endless gear shifts and hitting hyperspeed with NOS. Don't get me wrong, the 228i is a blast to drive. Hit the right buttons and you can send its rear-end going sideways, but it doesn't get my blood pumping like the Si.
And a special thanks to Adil from Lenzart Photography for the amazing photography and editing. Check out his work and contact him at www.lenzartphotography.com
型号 Model: 2014 BMW 228i / 2014 Honda Civic Si Coupe
顏色 Paint Type: Mineral White / Taffeta White
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $36,000 / $26,710
試車售價 Price as Tested: $47,045 / $26,710
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2690 / 2620
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): ( 4432 / 1774 / 1418 ) / ( 4542 / 1752 / 1397 )
車重 Curbweight (kg): 1497 / 1361
引擎 Engine: TwinPower Turbo inline-4 / 2.4L 4-cylinder DOHC i-VTEC
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 241 @ 5000-6000rpm / 205 @ 7000rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 258 @ 1450-4800rpm / 174 @ 4400rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic / 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine/Drive: Front engine, RWD / Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: ( 8.7 / 5.4 ) / ( 9.9 / 6.6 )
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 225/40R18 Pirelli Cinturato / 225/40R18 Continental ContiProContact