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The A-Class offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Passat doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The A-Class offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Passat 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.
The A-Class’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Passat doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the A-Class and the Passat have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.
The A-Class comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. Mercedes 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 Passat.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 14th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th, below the industry average.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 15th in reliability. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.
The A-Class’ 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 14 more horsepower (188 vs. 174) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 184) than the Passat’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the A-Class’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Passat doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is standard on the Mercedes A-Class, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Passat.
The A-Class offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Passat doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.
For better stopping power the A-Class’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Passat:
The A-Class stops much shorter than the Passat:
70 to 0 MPH
Car and Driver
Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the A-Class can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Passat doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
The A-Class offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Passat’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The A-Class’ drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Passat doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
The A 220 4MATIC handles at .95 G’s, while the Passat pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
The A-Class is 1 foot shorter than the Passat, making the A-Class easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The design of the Mercedes A-Class amounts to more than styling. The A-Class has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 Cd. That is lower than the Passat (.29) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the A-Class get better fuel mileage.
To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the A-Class’ trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Passat’s useful trunk space.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 40% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 16th.
Unlike the driver-only memory seat in the Passat SEL Premium, the A-Class has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.
The A-Class offers an optional 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 Passat doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The A-Class’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Passat’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the A-Class detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Passat doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
The Passat (except S/R-Line/GT)’s optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The A-Class’ optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.
The A-Class’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Volkswagen only offers heated mirrors on the Passat SE R-Line.
The A-Class 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 Passat offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
Optional air-conditioned seats in the A-Class keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Passat doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.
On extremely cold winter days, the A-Class’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Passat doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
The A-Class 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 Passat SE R-Line.
Both the A-Class and the Passat offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the A-Class has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Passat doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.
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