2019 Audi A4 vs. 2019 Volkswagen GTI

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A4 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Volkswagen GTI doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The A4’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The GTI doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The A4 has a standard Audi Backguard System that uses a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Audi Backguard System moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The GTI doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Audi Pre Sense City in the A4 as “Superior.” The GTI scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

The A4 45 TFSI has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The GTI doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The A4 Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The GTI only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the A4 and the GTI have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Audi A4 is safer than the Volkswagen GTI:

 

A4

GTI

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

164

454

Neck Injury Risk

26%

33%

Neck Stress

232 lbs.

352 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi A4 is safer than the Volkswagen GTI:

 

A4

GTI

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

13 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

834 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A4 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GTI was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The A4 comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. Audi will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the GTI.

The A4’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the GTI’s (12 vs. 10 years).

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the A4’s reliability 26 points higher than the GTI.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 9 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The A4 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 20 more horsepower (248 vs. 228) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the GTI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the A4 45 TFSI is faster than the Volkswagen GTI (automatics tested):

 

A4

GTI

Zero to 60 MPH

5 sec

6 sec

Quarter Mile

13.7 sec

14.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.4 MPH

98.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regardless of its engine, the A4’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Volkswagen only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the GTI Automatic.

The A4 has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the GTI (15.3 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The Audi A4 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the GTI.

Brakes and Stopping

The A4’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the GTI are solid, not vented.

The A4 stops much shorter than the GTI:

 

A4

GTI

 

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

163 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GTI (245/40R18 vs. 225/40R18).

The A4’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the GTI’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A4 offers optional 19-inch wheels. The GTI’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The A4 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The GTI’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A4’s wheelbase is 6.4 inches longer than on the GTI (110 inches vs. 103.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A4 is 1.3 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than on the GTI.

The A4’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56% to 44%) than the GTI’s (60.4% to 39.6%). This gives the A4 more stable handling and braking.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the GTI Autobahn pulls only .90 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the GTI Autobahn (25.3 seconds @ .74 average G’s vs. 26.1 seconds @ .69 average G’s).

Chassis

The design of the Audi A4 amounts to more than styling. The A4 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 Cd. That is significantly lower than the GTI (.31) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the A4 get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the A4 Prestige Quattro is quieter than the GTI Autobahn:

 

A4

GTI

At idle

42 dB

52 dB

Full-Throttle

70 dB

81 dB

70 MPH Cruising

63 dB

67 dB

Passenger Space

The A4 has .5 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front legroom, .1 inches more rear legroom and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the GTI.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the A4 offers cargo security. The GTI’s hatchback body style, non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the A4. The GTI doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the A4 has a standard power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The GTI doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the A4 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the GTI. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 43% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the A4, the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The GTI doesn’t offer a memory system.

The A4 has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The GTI doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The A4’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the GTI’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A4 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The GTI doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the A4 has standard extendable sun visors. The GTI doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The A4 offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The GTI offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the A4 and the GTI have standard heated front seats. The A4 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the GTI.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the A4 keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The GTI doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the A4’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The GTI doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The A4 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the GTI Autobahn.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® chose the Audi A4 as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A4 first among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The GTI isn’t in the top three in its category.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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