Honda Civic Hybrid vs Volkswagen Jetta

Time to start hunting for a car again

In just a matter of months, my current car, "The Whisperer", a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid will be coming to the end of its life with my family. In Singapore, we can't keep a car beyond 10 years unless we are willing to pay the government SGD$50,000 (Approx USD $35,747) to extend its life beyond 10 years.

I am not in favour of that choice because a 10 year old car is a 10 year old car. Problems are bound to surface in time to come and not to mention I will also lose the scrap value of the car which is worth SGD $10,000 (approx USD $7,150)

There is a myriad of choices out there including new cars and used cars. 

Used vs New

I still feel a used car that is not more than 5 years old would be a better choice as new car prices are crazy high in Singapore. A new car depreciate like mad once they leave the dealer easily losing about SGD $30,000 (Approx USD $21,449) in the first year for a mid size sedan. For a rough guide prices of new cars in Singapore, you may refer here.

The Proposition

There are many tempting used cars out there. I am a big fan of Mercedes and Volvo, a used Mercedes Benz C class or a used Volvo S60 or V40 would be great to have. I have driven both cars in Europe and they are fantastic drives. I especially like stretching the C-class legs on the German autobahns and it was smooth, fast, well equipped and very classy. 

However, in Singapore, I can't help but feel that both cars will be stifled and it is unlikely that I will ever attack mountain roads here. For, there are no mountains in Singapore. 

Reality will also have to set in. While a 5 year-old Volvo S60 is very close to the price of a used 5-year old Honda Civic Hybrid. It is considered an exotic car over here and will incur more exotic servicing and repair fees.

As for a Mercedes Benz, a 5-Year old C-Class will cost SGD $95,000 (Approx USD $67,920). I don't think I can afford such an extravagance.

Enter the 2 Contenders

Choice No. 1 : 2012-2013 Volkswagen Jetta

Selling Price: SGD $64,000 (Approx USD $45,757)


Personally, looks wise. I prefer the look of the Jetta. it looks more sporty and handsome. It has a clean Germanic shape. Not a sleek super car but I like the style.

Volkswagen Jetta 2012  Exterior
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Volkswagen Jetta 2012 Exterior Rear
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The interior to be frank, feels a bit low rent compared to Volkwagen Passats and even Golfs. It also doesn't have some bells and whistles which the Golf has such as the start-stop system. I hope it comes with a built in bluetooth connection though. I use that a lot for Spotify and phone calls.

Why not a Golf, one may ask. The answer is simply because I needed the larger boot space for my baby pram and other paraphernalia.

Volkswagen Jetta 2012 Interior
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The superior performance over the Honda Civic Hybrid is also tempting. I always have an affinity for small turbocharged engines. High torque means more get up and go. If I were to purchase this, it would be the most powerful car I have ever owned. At an engine capacity of 1,390 cc, the engine size is wont incur much tax and fuel economy as far as I have read is decent.


This is one big issue with Volkswagen in Singapore. many VW owners have reported issues with the DSG gear box and there was a recall. It seem that the transmission fluid used was not suitable for the high heat climate over here. While Volkswagen Singapore have mentioned that the issue has been solved with a replacement of the transmission fluid and certain parts. A pall does hang over the longevity of their products.

Servicing and maintenance costs will also be higher than the Honda. Reliability is probably the weakest link in the proposition for the Jetta.

Some specifications of the Volkswagen Jetta is below:

Engine capacity1,390 cc
Engine type4-cylinder in-line 16-valve TSI Turbocharger
Compression ratiounknown
Bore x Strokeunknown
Fuel typePetrol
Power89kW (120 bhp)
Torque200 Nm
Acceleration9.8s (0-100 km/h)
Top speed202 km/h
Fuel consumption16.7 km/L
CO2 emission138 g/km (As tested by LTA)

Choice No. 2: 2012-2013 Honda Civic Hybrid

Selling Price: SGD $73,000 (Approx USD $52,191)

Honda Civic Hybrid 2012 Front
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Honda Civic Hybrid 2012 Rear
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Compared to the eighth generation model that I am currently driving, the 2011 nine generation model looks a little more dowdy than the eight generation. Less sleek and more Camry like. The nine generation model had received a lot of flak in the motoring community for its uninspired shape when it was first unveiled. The current tenth generation model is sleek and sporty again but alas its a new car, hence not in the contest.

Compared to the Jetta, it doesn't look as good. But the spacy shape of the ninth generation hybrid still works for me. I have no qualms about driving this for a long time. It does look more a middle age man's car though.

Honda Civic Hybrid 2012 Interior
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While a Civic's interior is hardly luxurious compared to a Mercedes Benz. It is still a pleasant place to be in. Beige leather with a two tone interior with leather trimming gives it a comfortable feel. Honda's interior are built to last and the Civic DNA runs through all the generation with its spacy instrumentation that works very well.

I have gotten very used to the digital speedometer and spaceship like driving instruments and the nine generation continues that trend. However, I do feel that the trimmings like the brushed aluminium gear level surround of the eighth generation has been removed with cheap black plastic trimmings. Overall, the ninth generation felt a bit low rent compared to the previous generation. It is a big bug bear for me.


While a Civic Hybrid is not going to win awards for speed and power. It does move off the line in quicker than most conventionally powered sedan. This is due to the instantaneous torque that is available from zero rpm from the electric motor. A conventional petrol engine will have to rev to at least 1,500rpm before torque is served. The hybrid powerplant was something I have really enjoyed in my current eight generation Civic Hybrid. I like the torquey shove off the line and a fuel consumption that was so low that one would have difficulty remembering when was the last time the car was refueled.

I enjoyed the strange noises emitted by the hybrid power plant when in motion. it feels like I am operating a spaceship instead of a car. Having an aviation background, this had a great appeal. I also like the dead silence of the car when the engine shuts off at the traffic lights, it is like being in a oasis or a cocoon in the middle of noisy traffic.


It is a Honda. What more do I have to say?

Some specifications of the Civic Hybrid is below:

Engine capacity1,497 cc
Engine type4-cylinders in-line 16-valves SOHC i-VTEC Hybrid electric
Compression ratio10.8
Bore x Stroke(73.0 x 89.4) mm
Fuel typePetrol
Power82kW (110 bhp)
Torque174 Nm
Acceleration11s (0-100 km/h)
Top speed190 km/h
Fuel consumption22.7 km/L
CO2 emission104 g/km (As tested by LTA)


The above two contenders have both their merits and drawbacks.

Volkswagen Jetta


  1. SGD $11,000 cheaper 
  2. Most powerful car I will own thus far 
  3. Handsome design 
  4. Better handling 
  5. Better NVH insulation 
  6. Scratches the European Car itch. 

  1. Gearbox reliability 
  2. More expensive servicing and maintenance 
  3. No relationship with existing dealer workshop 

Honda Civic Hybrid


Honda made
Hybrid Start-stop system
Electric instant torque
Great fuel consumption
Good relationship with current Honda dealer workshop
Cheaper servicing and maintenance


Another 5 years with a Civic Hybrid?
More expensive than the Jetta
Interior slightly lower grade than current ride
Dowdy Camry design

I have not come to a decision yet but I am more inclined towards the Honda Civic Hybrid mostly due to familiarity. However, with a SGD$11,000 price difference. It needs further reconsideration.

Asking for Opinions

If you have any other suggestions or comments, please feel free to comment below. If you are a existing owner of the above cars, do let me know of your ownership experience. More information will always help in my decision making.


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