2020 Mercedes C-Class Sedan vs. 2020 Volkswagen GTI

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/02/18

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes C-Class Sedan have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision. The Volkswagen GTI doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The C-Class Sedan’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 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Active Brake Assist optional in the C-Class Sedan as “Superior.” The GTI scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

The C-Class Sedan offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The GTI doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The C-Class Sedan 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 C-Class Sedan’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 GTI doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the C-Class Sedan and the GTI have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, available lane departure 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 Mercedes C-Class Sedan is safer than the Volkswagen GTI:

C-Class

GTI

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

138

454

Neck Injury Risk

24%

33%

Neck Stress

203 lbs.

352 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Stress

147 lbs.

174 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 Mercedes C-Class Sedan is safer than the Volkswagen GTI:

C-Class

GTI

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

13 inches

Spine Acceleration

43 G’s

45 G’s

Hip Force

769 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 IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the C-Class Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 54 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GTI is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

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The C-Class Sedan’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the GTI’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability

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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.

Engine

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The C-Class Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 27 more horsepower (255 vs. 228) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the GTI’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the C 300 Sedan RWD gets better fuel mileage than the GTI Auto (24 city/35 hwy vs. 24 city/32 hwy).

The C-Class Sedan has 4.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the GTI (17.4 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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The Mercedes C-Class Sedan comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the GTI.

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes C-Class Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the GTI.

Brakes and Stopping

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The C-Class Sedan stops much shorter than the GTI:

C-Class

GTI

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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The C-Class Sedan’s optional 255/35R19 rear 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 C-Class Sedan 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 C-Class Sedan 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.

Suspension and Handling

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The C-Class Sedan’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 GTI doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the C-Class Sedan’s wheelbase is 8.2 inches longer than on the GTI (111.8 inches vs. 103.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the C-Class Sedan is .9 inches wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the GTI.

The C-Class Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (53% to 47%) than the GTI’s (60.4% to 39.6%). This gives the C-Class Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The C 300 Sedan handles at .91 G’s, while the GTI pulls only .90 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The C 300 Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the GTI (25.7 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 26.1 seconds @ .69 average G’s).

Chassis

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The front grille of the C-Class Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The GTI doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The C-Class Sedan has .5 inches more front legroom and 1.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the GTI.

Cargo Capacity

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With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the C-Class 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 C-Class Sedan. The GTI doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the C-Class Sedan’s power trunk can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The GTI doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the C-Class Sedan 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 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.

Ergonomics

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The C-Class Sedan 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 C-Class Sedan, the memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat (memory seat optional for the front passenger), steering wheel position and outside mirror angle. The GTI doesn’t offer a memory system.

The C-Class Sedan’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The GTI doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The C-Class Sedan 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 GTI doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The C-Class Sedan’s 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 C-Class Sedan 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.

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 C-Class Sedan’s headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the GTI’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Poor.”

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

A power rear sunshade is optional in the C-Class Sedan to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The GTI doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the C-Class Sedan 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 C-Class Sedan has standard 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 C-Class Sedan 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 C-Class Sedan’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 C-Class Sedan 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 C-Class offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The GTI doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The C-Class Sedan’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, stopping and changing direction automatically. The GTI Autobahn’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.

Model Availability

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/02/18

The Mercedes C-Class comes in coupe, convertible and sedan bodystyles; the Volkswagen GTI isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/02/18

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Mercedes C-Class Sedan and the Volkswagen GTI, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the C-Class Sedan 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.

The Mercedes C-Class outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by 53% during the 2019 model year.

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

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