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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes AMG CLA 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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.
The AMG CLA’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
The AMG CLA has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The AMG CLA’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.
The AMG CLA offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Jetta GLI only offers a rear monitor.
The AMG CLA’s 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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the AMG CLA and the Jetta GLI have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
The AMG CLA’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Jetta GLI’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.
The AMG CLA 35’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 74 more horsepower (302 vs. 228) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 258) than the Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The AMG CLA 45’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 154 more horsepower (382 vs. 228) and 96 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 258) than the Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.
Regardless of its engine, the AMG CLA’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 Jetta GLI Auto.
The Mercedes AMG CLA comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Jetta GLI.
An eight-speed automatic (SMG) is standard on the Mercedes AMG CLA 45, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the Jetta GLI.
To facilitate fast shifting and allow the driver to focus on the road, the AMG CLA offers an optional up-shift light to indicate when the engine is approaching redline. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer an up-shift light.
The AMG CLA’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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer launch control.
For better stopping power the AMG CLA’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Jetta GLI:
AMG CLA 45 opt.
For better traction, the AMG CLA has larger tires than the Jetta GLI (235/35R19 vs. 225/45R18).
The AMG CLA 35’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Jetta GLI’s standard 45 series tires. The AMG CLA’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Jetta GLI’s 45 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the AMG CLA offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Jetta GLI’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 AMG CLA can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
The AMG CLA’s 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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the AMG CLA’s wheelbase is 1.8 inches longer than on the Jetta GLI (107.4 inches vs. 105.6 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the AMG CLA is 2.7 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the rear than on the Jetta GLI.
To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the AMG CLA’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Jetta GLI intrusive beam hinge reduces its useful trunk space.
A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the AMG CLA. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the AMG CLA’s available trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The AMG CLA uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Jetta GLI uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
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.
Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Jetta GLI Autobahn, the AMG CLA 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 AMG CLA 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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
If the windows are left open on the AMG CLA the driver can close them all from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Jetta GLI can’t use the remote to operate the windows.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the AMG CLA detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the AMG CLA offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer cornering lights. The AMG CLA also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.
When the AMG CLA 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 Jetta GLI’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
The AMG CLA’s optional rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Jetta GLI has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The AMG CLA offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Jetta GLI.
Both the AMG CLA and the Jetta GLI offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the AMG CLA has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the AMG CLA offers an optional Active Distance Assist Distronic, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
The AMG CLA’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Jetta GLI’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.
The AMG CLA’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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