2019 Volkswagen GTI vs. 2019 Mercedes A-Class

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Volkswagen GTI are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Mercedes A-Class doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The GTI has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The A-Class doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

To help make backing safer, the GTI SE/Autobahn’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The A-Class doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the GTI and the A-Class 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the GTI the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 155 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The A-Class has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The GTI comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The A-Class’ 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

The GTI’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the A-Class’ (10 vs. 5 years).

There are over 71 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the GTI’s warranty.

Reliability

The Volkswagen GTI’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the A-Class’ engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Volkswagen 1 place higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

The GTI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 40 more horsepower (228 vs. 188) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 221) than the A-Class’ 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Volkswagen GTI is faster than the Mercedes A 220 (automatics tested):

GTI

A-Class

Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

6.1 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.3 sec

16.9 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.5 sec

6.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.3 sec

14.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

94 MPH

Transmission

The GTI Automatic’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The A-Class doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the GTI SE/Autobahn’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the A-Class:

GTI SE/Autobahn

A-Class

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.6 inches

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

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the GTI has larger tires than the A-Class (225/40R18 vs. 205/55R17).

The GTI’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the A-Class’ standard 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GTI has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the A-Class.

The GTI has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the A-Class; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Chassis

The Volkswagen GTI may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 pounds less than the Mercedes A-Class.

The GTI is 11.1 inches shorter than the A-Class, making the GTI easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The GTI has .8 inches more front shoulder room, .9 inches more rear headroom and 1.7 inches more rear legroom than the A-Class.

Cargo Capacity

The GTI has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the A-Class (22.8 vs. 8.6 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the GTI has a standard rear wiper. The A-Class doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

Recommendations

The GTI was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The A-Class has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the GTI as their 2015 Car of the Year. The A-Class has never been chosen.

The GTI was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 5 of the last 12 years. The A-Class has never been an “All Star.”

The GTI was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2010 Car of the Year. The A-Class has never been chosen.

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

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