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Hyundai Elantra Sport vs Honda Civic Si: Pros & Cons of Both

Hyundai Elantra 2022 parked

If you’re shopping for a bargain sport compact car, the Elantra Sport and Civic Si should both be on your list for consideration. These are four-door, five-seater sedans with extra power under the hood without a much bigger price tag.

Both vehicles are very comparable. In most comparisons, it’s a tie on paper between a Civic Si and an Elantra Sport. The big differences are that the Civic Si feels more fun and responsive to drive, the Elantra Sport is less expensive, and the Honda is easier to mod and maintain over time.

In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Hyundai Elantra Sport and the Honda Civic Si. I’ll explain their history, do an extensive comparison, and decide which option is better for you.

Introducing the Hyundai Elantra Sport

I should start with a quick point of clarity. From 2017 until 2021, Hyundai called their sportier trim level an “Elantra Sport”. From 2021 on, they changed the name to “Elantra N”.

The new name change came with a number of other sizeable performance boosters and a bigger price tag.  For that reason, I’ll be looking specifically at the Hyundai Elantra Sport in this matchup. The Elantra N is out of the league of the Civic Si.

Hyundai is a South Korean car brand, and the Elantra is their mid-level compact car — beating out the less expensive Accent and falling right behind the more expensive Sonata in their lineup.

You might not realize this, but the first Elantra debuted in 1997, and it first hit the American car market in 2002. It’s currently one of the higher-selling sedans, but the sales are typically a lot lower than Honda’s Civic.

The Sport model wasn’t available until the 6th generation of the car, roughly halfway through the 2017 model year.

Over the base Elantra, the Sport model offers a bigger engine, different body styling, different transmission, aesthetic changes in the cabin, upgraded suspension, overhauled drivetrain, new gearbox, and new wheels.

It seems like the only similarity between the base-level Elantra, and the Elantra Sport is the badge on the front.

Blue Hyundai Elantra Sport 2022 parked outside near a store
2022 Hyundai Elantra Sport

All About the Honda Civic Si

Honda is a name you might be more familiar with. The Civic started selling in 1972, and it was Honda’s first venture into making a compact car. All of their previous success came from their motorcycles.

During their 3rd generation production run, Honda introduced the Si model which offered a lot more performance and better aesthetics. If you were curious, the Si stands for “Sport injection”, referring to how the fuel is injected into the engine.

Today’s Civic Si’s fall into their production line of Civics that offer a ton of mechanical changes across the vehicle.

Needless to say, the Civic was a hit since its inception. It’s been selling in America ever since. Of the 1.2 million compact cars sold in America in 2021, the Honda Civic made up almost 22% of those sales.

The Civic has a pedigree of being a commuter car that never stops running. The Si model takes this notion and adds more power — for the commuter who leaves for late work and needs to make up time.

Green Honda Civic Si 2017 at an exhibition show
Honda Civic Si

Comparison of Elantra Sport Vs Civic Si

The purpose of this guide is to tell you the pros and cons of both vehicles and help you realize which option is right for you. Since buying a car is so subjective, I’m going to help by putting together a side-by-side comparison of some different buying considerations. I’ll declare a winner in each section before saying which vehicle is better for you at the end of this guide.

Price

In my experience, the sticker price is one of the first and biggest considerations someone might make while shopping for a car.

If it’s too much car for you, then it’s a non-starter as you’re doing your car shopping. Since the Civic Si and Elantra Sport would both be used cars, I can’t give you exact prices or MSRP. However, when both cars were sold in 2020, the Civic Si’s MSRP was $24,775 and the Elantra Sport’s MSRP was $22,485.

That’s a difference of about $2,300.

As you start adding packages to either car, the price will obviously go up. Regardless, the Elantra Sport can have more add-ons and still be less expensive than the Civic Si, so it wins this category.

Winner: Elantra Sport

Total Power

In both the Elantra Sport and Civic Si, the vehicle was built with extra performance. If you didn’t care about power, you would probably stick with the base Civic or Elantra, instead.

The 2020 Civic Si comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 205 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque.

The 2020 Elantra Sport has a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 201 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque.

On paper, the Civic is slightly more powerful. However, the stats are simply too close for me to say it’s a decisive winner.

Winner: Tie

Honda Civic 2022 Si engine close up
2022 Honda Civic Si engine

Total Speed

In a drag race, the result is relatively close. The Civic Si does 0-60 in 6.6 seconds, and the Elantra Sport does it in 6.9 seconds.

On the top end, the Civic Si will go 137 mph while the Elantra Sport can go up to 126 mph.

These results are in line with the extra horsepower and better weight distribution of the Civic Si, giving it a slight advantage in speed.

Winner: Civic Si

Handling

On a closed track, there are some pretty notable differences between these two cars. When it comes to handling, the Civic Si makes everything easier, smoother, and more fun. You can throw it through back-to-back corners and the car will feel at home.

While the Elantra Sport is definitely fun to drive on the track, the handling feels disjointed. The car almost protests as you throw it through quick turns.

As a standard commuter car, this category won’t mean a lot to you. At highway speeds, the handling is very similar between the two, but you have to work a little harder with the Hyundai.

Winner: Civic Si

Styling

The styling for both of these cars is impressive, and they look very similar side-to-side. However, the Elantra Sport looks more muted and less impressive, in my opinion.

The Civic has a strong front grill and bumper, and the lines on its side profile look futuristic. On the front, a red Si badge compliments the black grill and accent pieces very well.

The Elantra Sport looks like any other sedan on the road, with few features that really stand out or make you think it’s a sportier car.

To put it simply, the Civic Si is a flashier car with modern styling, and the Elantra Sport has a styling that’s like all the other sedans on the market.

Winner: Civic Si

Honda Civic Si 2023 orange isolated against a monochrome background
2023 Honda Civic Si

Sound Isolation

Sound isolation is something that you might not think about while shopping for a car, and car reviewers don’t typically talk about it. However, I need to make an exception here. When I test-drove a Honda Civic Si in 2019, the sound from outside was very noticeable and distracting.

With the windows up and AC blasting, I could still hear road noise and it sounded like the engine was revving right next to me. It was very distracting, and I found myself speaking much louder just to hold a conversation.

In the Elantra Sport from the same year, it was much quieter in the cabin. It wasn’t as sound isolated as a Lexus, for example, but it was orders of magnitude better than the Civic Si.

Winner: Elantra Sport

Comfortability

In the driver’s seat, the comfort of these two cars is fairly different. The Civic Si has sportier bucket seats, but that’s the extent of the comfort. It feels slightly cramped and uncomfortable while you’re driving.

As you hit the road, the poorer suspension and worsened sound isolation will make you feel uncomfortable pretty quickly.

By comparison, the Elantra Sport has cushioned bucket seats with more headroom and elbow room.

If I had to choose the more comfortable car to drive on a road trip, I would choose the Elantra Sport.

Winner: Elantra Sport

Hyundai Elantra Sport 2017 interior
Hyundai Elantra Sport interior

Interior Look

The interior look of these two is very similar. Without looking at the badge on the steering wheel, it’s very hard for me to tell these two apart. The Elantra Sport has a flat-bottom steering wheel and some extra accents around the dashboard, but that’s basically the extent of the differences.

The good news is that both of these cars look great from the inside. The designers did a good job of putting in extra effort to give it a sportier look when compared to the baseline flagship sedans.

Winner: Tie

Fuel Economy

Going fast and having a nice performance is nice, but it’s annoying if you have to constantly stop at a gas station as a result.

Both of these cars have good gas mileage. I was impressed to learn that the Civic Si offers an EPA-estimated combined 32 mpg, and the Elantra Sport offers up to 29 mpg combined.

Although the results are close, it works out to another gallon or two of gas remaining in the Civic Si when the Elantra Sport is empty. For that reason, the Civic Si takes this one.

Winner: Civic Si

Drivetrain

Both vehicles are FWD front-engine cars with very similar engine configurations, so there’s no difference there.

Winner: Tie

Transmission Options

There’s a big difference here that I should mention. The type of transmission that your car has will determine if the shifting is done automatically, or if you need to manually shift gears.

In this case, the Civic Si only comes with a 6-speed manual transmission. If you can’t drive a manual, then you either have to learn or you can’t own a Civic Si. I have a guide here that will help you through the learning process, but some people simply don’t want to drive a manual every day. I get it, and that’s no problem.

In that case, you’ll want to go with the Elantra Sport. The Elantra Sport has an option: you can either have a 6-speed manual, or a 7-speed automatic with a dual-clutch transmission.

If you want an automatic, the Elantra Sport is the only option. If you want a manual, you can pick either.

Winner: Elantra Sport

2022-honda-civic-si-sedan-dashboard-carbuzz-908155-1600_clipped_rev_1
2022 Honda Civic Si interior with a manual transmission

Brand Reliability

Another point to mention is the auto brand itself. Hyundai doesn’t have the best track record for reliability (Kia and Genesis are owned and operated by Hyundai). They tend to have some issues as their cars rack up miles.

Honda, on the other hand, is one of the top two most reliable car brands on the market. There’s a reason why you see a lot of Civics on the road still, and that’s largely due to the governing mentality at Honda.

Brand reliability will play into the car’s reliability, how good the OEM parts are, and what problems you’ll run into 5 to 10 years down the road.

Winner: Civic Si

Maintenance and Serviceability

What about the cost of ownership? To find this out, you need to determine the type of maintenance required for the car, and how easy it is to service it. Some cars put intentional barriers in the way (cough, Ford, cough) so you can’t do common maintenance on your own.

With other cars, you’ll find it hard to get replacement parts, or the replacement parts are more expensive.

With both Hyundai and Honda, it’s easy to get replacement parts and do the work yourself. Honda takes a slight edge, simply because their car is more popular. With more popularity comes a much larger availability for finding replacement parts.

In my experience, a Civic Si is also easier to work on than any Hyundai I’ve experienced. Though Honda wins this match-up, I’ll admit that it’s a close one.

Winner: Civic Si

Aftermarket Community

If you like mods, then you should look into the aftermarket community. This will tell you what type of mods you can install, how easy it is to get these mods, and how extensive the mods are.

For the largest and most involved aftermarket community, you should go with a Honda Civic Si. They have a huge community, and a lot of Civic Si’s you see on the road will be heavily modded in the first place.

With an Elantra Sport, finding appropriate mods and parts is a lot harder. The community isn’t as active, so you’ll need to get more creative and roll the dice with your mods.

Winner: Civic Si

Honda Civic Si modified with aftermarket parts at a Spocom Super Show Car Event
Honda Civic Si with aftermarket part modifications

Cargo Space

With cargo space, both of these vehicles are nearly identical. The difference between the two is 0.3 cubic feet, with the Civic winning. However, the Elantra has more interior space, especially in the backseat.

With that said, this category is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Overall Size

Overall, both vehicles are within an inch of each measurement. The Civic Si is barely longer, and the Elantra Sport is barely wider and taller. Since it’s so close, there’s no clear winner.

This means either car is equally easy to park, maneuver, and fit in your garage.

Winner: Tie

Should You Get an Elantra Sport or Civic Si?

After going through all of those match-ups, you should have a better picture of these two cars. More importantly, you should have a better idea of which vehicle you would prefer to have.

Of the 16 categories, the Honda Civic Si wins 5 of them, the Hyundai Elantra Sport wins 4, and there are 7 ties.

On paper, that means that either option is a great pick. But personally, I would pick the Civic Si. It’s a little more expensive, but it has better styling, handling, and speed. In addition, the brand has a much better reputation, and the aftermarket is booming.

The Elantra Sport is still a great option, though. It offers a lot of the same features as the Civic Si at a lower sticker price. The Elantra Sport is available in an automatic transmission, it’s more comfortable, and it’s quieter in the cabin.

Conclusion

You just learned more about the Hyundai Elantra Sport and Honda Civic Si. In this comparison, the result was pretty close between the two vehicles. I reviewed 16 different categories, and 7 of these were ties between the two vehicles.

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References:

Car Sales Base

Wikipedia

Hyundai Elantra

Honda Civic

Motor Hills

Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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