Home » Worst-Case Ontario: 2008 Volkswagen City Golf vs 2006 Acura CSX

Worst-Case Ontario: 2008 Volkswagen City Golf vs 2006 Acura CSX

Shitbox Showdown City Golf Vs Csx
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Why hello and welcome to Shitbox Showdown. It’s October, which means the snow will probably start to fly in just a few weeks if you live in, say, Ontario. Time to think about a winter beater, yeah? Well, with the car market still riding high in Canada, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, but these two uniquely Canadian machines should brighten things up a touch. However, before we get a little northern exposure, let’s check in on how our Friday battle of the French cars went.

Renault Vs Peugeot

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the nicer Alliance won out over the Peugeot 405 Mi16. Secretly, I was rooting for the Peugeot, partly because it’s a respected performance car and partly because its engine’s name sounds like a gun and a Tom Cruise movie rolled into one. Anyway, let’s go from French cars in America to market oddities from a country with a strong Francophone population. That’s right, we’re hunting for crapcans in my own backyard, and today’s battle is between two cars Canada got that America didn’t.

While Mark typically makes a point of finding surprisingly nice cars, both of my picks for today are proper shitboxes, since they’re dented, rusty, and have already been well-used. So, grab a tetanus booster, it’s time to dig into two Canadian curiosities.

2008 Volkswagen City Golf — $2,000 CAD

Volkswagen City Golf 1

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Engine/drivetrain: Two-liter eight-valve naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel-drive.

Location: Port Dover, Ontario, Canada

Odometer reading: 200,000 km (124,275 miles)

Runs/drives? Absolutely, but it might not stop so well.

To the untrained eye, this is just a funny-looking Mark IV Golf. Indeed, it is a Mark IV Golf, but one offered on the basis of cost. As the Mk5 Rabbit went upmarket, Volkswagen Canada kept things cheap and cheerful by importing continuation Mk4s from Brazil and Mexico, calling them the City Golf and City Jetta. While 2007 models were essentially carryover two-liter base models, 2008 models gained a whole host of updates that I’ve previously detailed here.

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Volkswagen City Golf 2

While Volkswagen doesn’t exactly have the shiniest reliability reputation, these cars generally do alright. The City Golf’s older-than-dirt two-liter eight-valve four-cylinder engine hitched to a classic five-speed manual gearbox should get you everywhere you want to go, just not quickly. That’s okay though, as this City Golf seems rather well-equipped. Sporting the optional alloy wheels, it looks dashing in silver and offers such modern conveniences as a USB input and stability control. Alright, so it’s not quite Apple CarPlay, but for $2,000 Canadian, what did you expect?

Volkswagen City Golf 3

This particular City Golf needs a little recommissioning as the seller claims it’s been sitting for a year. However, if you’re handy and a bargain-hunter, you might be able to install fresh pads and discs, perform an oil change, and still come in under what this facelifted Golf’s rival is listed for. At least scrape the decals off the back, please.

2006 Acura CSX Premium — $2,500 CAD

Acura Csx 1

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Engine/drivetrain: Two-liter 16-valve naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel-drive.

Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Odometer reading: 337,268 km (209,568 miles)

Runs/drives? Technically yes, although it sounds like things could be smoother.

Wait a second, this just looks like a Honda Civic! Why yes, although not the Civic sold in America. Welcome to the Acura CSX, a Canadian Civic with Japanese bumpers, Acura emblems, and a little extra heart. Oh, and it’s exceptionally well-equipped for a mid-aughts economy car, featuring real leather, a banging stereo for your tunes, and automatic climate control. Oh yeah, we’re moving up in the world.

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Acura Csx 2

Instead of the little 1.8-liter R18A1 four-cylinder engine found in base American Civics, the CSX sports a two-liter K20Z2 four-cylinder engine with 155 rampaging ponies. Alright, so an extra 15 horsepower doesn’t sound crazy, but access to the host of modifications available for the K-series four-cylinder engines is worth the cost of admission. Indeed, one owner of this CSX ended up tapping into that by adding an AEM intake, a Yonaka catback exhaust system, and HSD coilovers to round out the package. Interestingly, this CSX is also said to have a four-month-old clutch, a new clutch master cylinder, a new reverse gear, and a new alternator.

Acura Csx 3

This CSX has a few flaws the seller was candid enough to point out in the ad. The air-con is broken, the steering system has a squeak somewhere, and there’s a code for a misfire on cylinder three. They could be cheap problems, they could be expensive problems, it’s all a roll of the dice. As more of a sure problem, the left rear arch looks like a job for James Bondo himself, and those brake discs are roached, but there’s some solace in knowing that the leather upholstery is incredibly nice for a car of this mileage.

Like Coffee Crisp or ketchup-flavored chips, these odd compacts never officially made it south of the border. However, hypothetical shitboxing knows no borders, so pretend you can just pick up either without any pesky regulatory requirements. So, what’s your money on?

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(Photo credits: Kijiji Autos sellers)

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Andreas8088
Andreas8088
4 months ago

I will almost always go Honda over VW, but in this case, that thing is going to fall apart, so I’m going to go VW.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
4 months ago

While the Acura Civic is the better car in theory, in this case, I’m going with the unmolested Golf over the heavily molested and beat-to-shit Acura.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
4 months ago

Stock beats mods for me. Yeah the Golf is a little rough, but at least I sort of know what I’m getting into there. Maybe.

I’m used to seeing these Acura-badged Civics as I live not too far from the Quebec border. The first time I saw a previous gen Civic though I had to look it up, as I thought someone had just done a cheeky badge swap. Not so though.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
4 months ago

Ordinarily I would go with the car in better shape but maintenance on a VW scares me. Meanwhile the Acura is in pretty sad shape but a K20 sure would be nice in my son’s Civic. Since it’s all play money and I have no idea what a K20 is worth I’m voting Acura since the Golf holds zero interest at all.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago

The mods and rust kill the CSX, it’s a better car than the Golf sure but this one is rough and the Golf is simpler and cleaner, much better choice for basic transport. Oh how I wish US 8th gen Civics had all gotten K’s from the factory.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

Ummmm… I like your user name. ┗(・ω・;)┛ I’ve had this user name for a little over a year now. How can there be 2 of us? ┗(・ω・;)┛

Last edited 4 months ago by Shooting Brake
Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
4 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

One of you is my sworn enemy, but I am not sure which one. Figure it out amongst yourselves.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

(╯°□°)╯

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
4 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

I need to save all of these proto-emojis for my daughters.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

Google “kaomoji” for endless entertainment.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
4 months ago

The CityGolf got my vote mostly because the CSX is too rough for my liking, but who doesn’t like a solid hatchback?

The Mk4 Golf parts are mostly interchangeable, excepting the exterior – the CityGolf’s quarters, bumpers, and lights are all unique and are a pain to source. The 2.slow is dead reliable, and that understressed transmission will last. So it shouldn’t be too bad to get back up and going since the body looks alright.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

That CSX is the 40 year old prom queen at the HS Renion, on her 3rd divorce, already looking for daddy number 4 hard miles, more baggage than a suburban can carry. 20 years of smoking and alcohol but still thinks she is the queen.

Matt Woods
Matt Woods
4 months ago

I’ll take the stock golf over the modded Acura.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
4 months ago

What is Coffee Crisp?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
4 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

It’s a nice light snack!
https://www.madewithnestle.ca/coffee-crisp

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
4 months ago

That looks delicious! Like a coffee flavored KitKat. Why can’t we have that here in the states?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
4 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

It’s all the guns and Christianity that scared it away.

LOL

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
4 months ago

Note to editor: I want a dedicated write-up on these “continuation” cars: past-gen cars updated with new facias and such. It is a big thing in China and the developing world. You touched on it before with the Ford Falcon and pickup in Latin America. Some look OK, while others look super awkward. It should be pretty entertaining reading.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
4 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Good luck with that. I’ve been asking for a deep dive on the difference between the European system of figuring MPG or eMPG vs the US method for months. Crickets so far.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
4 months ago

I thought that continuing to sell “updated” last gen VWs was just a developing world thing. This “City” (in the South Park Chinese restaurant owner’s voice) thing reminds me of all the weird previous-gen VWs I saw in China. The front facias are always so awkward-looking when they try and freshen them.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
4 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

The Canadians took advantage of these warmed over oldies repeatedly. Check out the Thai-built Dodge Colt 100, and Mexican-made 1991-1993 Nissan Sentra Classic amongst others.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
4 months ago

The CSX wins by default. Honda is MUCH better than VW 😀

Luxury, sporty, economy, reliability. The CSX has it all 🙂

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
4 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

Also has significant rust, no AC, and won’t pass a safety with warning lights on.

I could handle the AC being dead, but the other two are a dead pass without acknowledging that you’re headed down a possible rabbit hole..

ChefCJ
ChefCJ
4 months ago

I’ve had two MK4 Jettas, and the first took me almost 190k miles with zero issues, and the second was about 165k miles with a could of cheap issues. Nothing major, and unfortunately taught me that VWs were reliable, quality machines, a lesson that every other VW I’ve own had to reteach me. The MK4 platform is about as stable a thing as thing as you could get from the era, and parts are cheap and plentiful for it. There’s a few folks on youtube that have them and have made extensive videos to confront every problem you could have, so that to me is the route I would head. Plus, it’s hard to beat the space from the hatchback. Sure it’s a little broken, but that’s what a breakers yard is for. It’s a silver car, and it seems like about 90% of these were silver (both of mine were), so they’re probably a few bumpers and rear doors laying around to be had.

FloridaNative
FloridaNative
4 months ago
Reply to  ChefCJ

My problem with Mk4 is that they are a b**** to work on. And some stupid things were made like garbage like door lock modules. Mk5 was much improved in ability to work on (still shitty modules but much easier to get to). But given this particular CSX, I still had to vote VW.

Last edited 4 months ago by FloridaNative
Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
4 months ago
Reply to  FloridaNative

Naive me bought a 2011 Jetta TDI thinking it would be cheaper/easier to maintain than the premium German brands I’ve owned in the past. Haha. Turns out even the “cheap” German cars require all manner of special tools to do basic stuff. My theory is that they just want you to leave anything more complicated than replacing wiper blades (also hard to find) to the pros.

ChefCJ
ChefCJ
4 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Oh I had to fabricate a tool to change the thermostat on my 2011 TDI Sportwagen, because otherwise you have to take the entire front off the car to put it in the ‘service position’. Crazy. I’ve had mine for a good 80k miles and done a shedload of work on it, so hit me up if you need any advice or a shoulder to cry on. Ask me about the fun of the DPF…
The MK4 had some difficulties; the spark plugs alone were a pain, and I don’t know how well my back recovered from having to lay down in the passenger seat upside down to replace the blower motor and resistor, but it was a cake walk compaired to the jobs I’ve had to do on my current one. I certainly think of the MK4 a lot more fondly than I do what I’m currently driving. Amaryllis Red coloured glasses I guess.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
4 months ago
Reply to  FloridaNative

But this one is made in Brazil and they’re known for their Quality Machines.

A. Barth
A. Barth
4 months ago

You were lookin’ at crapcans with your pals the other da-a-a-a-a-ay…

VW, please.

It’s a complete car and really exemplifies the idea of basic transportation. It’s not pristine, but that means it can be parked anywhere and if someone dings it, no worries. It won’t have AC but that is a problem for next year.

Looking at the topshot, the Acura appeared to be the clear choice – then I saw the rust. I appreciate the seller describing the stereo as “crudely installed” – that was refreshingly honest – and there are some mildly interesting aftermarket parts, but overall I get the impression this car was not treated well. How and/or why would it need a “new reverse gear”??

DDayJ
DDayJ
4 months ago

Without context me picking a VW over an Acura would seem insane, but with context I’m willing to try Safety First VW over Vape Pen Civic.

As others have noted these are both massive pieces of bulljunk, well done.

JDE
JDE
4 months ago

the Acura would likely bee the better vehicle most of the time, but the Boi Racer demeanor and extremely scary rust holes make me wonder if it is lowered or if it just had the rear springs rust through.

Clark B
Clark B
4 months ago

Going with the VW. They’re both broken, but I know my way around a MKIV Volkswagen, so I’ll take the demon I know.

10001010
10001010
4 months ago

Dude, these are both shit choices, well done.

Lokki
Lokki
4 months ago

Dammit! Don’t you DARE make me choose a VW!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
4 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

That Acura has been abused. I was ready to click Acura until I read the host of problems.

ExAutoJourno
ExAutoJourno
4 months ago

Errrrrrrm…25-year Rule, anyone? I know zilch about importing Canadian cars, but I suspect these would cause the same woes as, say, a Euro-market Lamborghini from the same year.

That said, if the gates magically opened, I’d be a Golfer. Not because it’s so swell — although I really like that generation Golf — but because the Acura is fast approaching it’s crush-by date. Can’t imagine it passing inspection….

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago

I figure both are going to break down on me, the VW will have electrical issues that leave me stranded, and the Acura will snap in half when the rust gets about 5% worse. The Acura looks like a more comfortable place to sit while waiting to get towed out of there, so that’s what I went for.

Buzz
Buzz
4 months ago

My wife’s ’07 Rabbit has electrical issues (hello randomly opening sunroof and front passenger door that won’t unlock) but it also has 195k miles on it without any major maintenance. I’ll take the City Golf.

Lhn91
Lhn91
4 months ago

Living more or less in the area where these are from…. while I generally have no faith at all in Volkswagen’s of this era, I have a lot of faith that the rust on the CSX means the undercarriage is far, far worse and will need at a minimum a bunch of patchwork to pass safety.

So for me, it’s the Volkswagen that looks decent, even if I expect to be chasing electrical gremlins the entire time.

Lhn91
Lhn91
4 months ago
Reply to  Lhn91

As an aside, if I remember correctly the City Golf/Jetta wasn’t available with AC. So that might skew some people’s choices.

William Eby
William Eby
4 months ago
Reply to  Lhn91

If the CSX doesn’t have air, give it time and you’ll have decent ventilation through the rust holes.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
4 months ago
Reply to  Lhn91

Agree. I think on rust belt vehicles like this you really need to get them up on a lift and see how much life is remaining on the structure itself and parts like brake and fuel lines which can be a lot of labor and/or money to fix.

Brett Goelz
Brett Goelz
4 months ago

Having owned a Mark IV Golf, I’m choosing the Golf. Yes that’s right I actually enjoyed that car. The 2.0 is slow but this is a winter beater. Speed is not necessary. The 5 speed will still give it some fun for the non snowy days.

V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago

 Indeed, it is a Mark IV Golf, but one offered on the basis of cost. 

Genuinely stumped how VW could have somehow cheapened the Mark IV even more?

I’d sooner ride a bike than drive another one though, so Acura is the easiest vote ever.

Lhn91
Lhn91
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

IIRC, they only had one package, the absolute base model with no AC, plus the benefit of selling an old model on already-paid-for tooling.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
4 months ago

Assuming the Golf’s lack of visible rust is reflective of the conditions underneath, I’m going with the VW. The CSX is actually a neat, somewhat strange car, but to say that one is in rough shape is an understatement.

Cal67
Cal67
4 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

I would say anyone voting for the Honda has never looked under a car in southern Ontario. There is no way on earth that thing will pass a safety inspection. I’ve seen Hondas and Toyotas that look better than that one that were rotted out underneath.

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