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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes A-Class 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 A-Class’ optional 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 A-Class offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The GTI 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 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.
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 GTI doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the A-Class and the GTI have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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’ corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the GTI’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 12th in initial quality. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mercedes 6 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.
On the EPA test cycle the A 220 FWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the GTI Auto (24 city/35 hwy vs. 24 city/32 hwy).
The Mercedes A-Class comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the GTI.
The A-Class stops much shorter than the GTI:
70 to 0 MPH
Car and Driver
60 to 0 MPH
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A-Class offers optional 19-inch wheels. The GTI’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.
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 GTI doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
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 GTI doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A-Class’ wheelbase is 3.8 inches longer than on the GTI (107.4 inches vs. 103.6 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A-Class is 1.1 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than on the GTI.
The A 220 4MATIC handles at .95 G’s, while the GTI SE pulls only .91 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
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 significantly lower than the GTI (.31) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the A-Class get better fuel mileage.
The A-Class has 1.9 inches more front headroom, .6 inches more front legroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the GTI.
A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the A-Class. The GTI doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the A-Class’ available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The GTI doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 39% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.
The A-Class has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The GTI doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
When three different drivers share the A-Class, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver and front passenger’s seat positions and outside mirror angle. The GTI doesn’t offer a memory system.
The A-Class’ standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The GTI doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The A-Class offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation 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 A-Class’ power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The GTI has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.
If the windows are left open on the A-Class the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the GTI can’t use the remote to operate the windows.
When the A-Class is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The GTI’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
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 GTI 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 GTI 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 GTI 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 GTI Autobahn.
To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Mercedes A-Class offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The GTI doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.
The A-Class’ optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The GTI Autobahn’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.
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