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Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG vs. Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport 7G-DCT

by CAR magazine on 25/11/2013

Comments: 5

At A Glance

Make MERCEDES A-Class VW Golf 7
Retail Price R481 888,00 R422 800,00
kw 155 162
Torque 350 350
Top Speed 240 244

AS unlikely as this comparison test may have seemed just a few years ago, the fact that before you is a photograph of a seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI lined up against a Mercedes-Benz A-Class bears testament to two truths. Firstly, Volkswagen has successfully evolved its Golf to a point where it is genuinely making a nuisance of itself in a segment previously considered too premium for Wolfsburg’s compact hatch range. And, secondly, that Mercedes-Benz, in changing the focus (and shape) of its A-Class offering to compete in this aforementioned premium segment, soon realised the sales potential that a well-sorted, sports-orientated hatch has. Coincidentally, proof of this potential can be found with the GTI badge.

Since the fourth-generation example was launched in 2000, GTI versions have accounted for an average of 50 per cent of all Golfs sold in South Africa. This despite VW’s (often-criticised) policy that states the styling updates between each generation must remain evolutionary rather than contemporary.

That said, it quickly becomes apparent that within this lineage, the new GTI is distinctive enough to be noticed in a crowd. Be it the LED daytime running lights, standard 18-inch Austin alloy wheels or the red pinstripe running across the front grille (and now into the headlamp clusters), the seventh-generation GTI manages to turn the heads of people in the know.

The fact that the A250 turns even more heads suggests there is a place for a bold, game-changing design in this largely conservative segment. Until the flagship A45 AMG (see page 116) arrives later this year, this A250 aptly manages its role as the sportiest model in the range. It also uses red detailing on its fenders and brake callipers to flaunt its pedigree, while striking a pose on 18-inch alloy wheels and suspension that is 15 mm lower than those of standard models. Bi-xenon headlamps are standard, as is a model-specific studded grille.

If the A250’s exterior styling doesn’t draw a clear enough battle line, there are racier garnishes inside the cabin.

While both cars feature well-bolstered, superbly comfortable leather seats and matching hide-wrapped (multifunction) steering wheels, it’s the A250 that feels the sportiest of the two. A lower-slung driver’s seat, red seatbelts, a carbon-look facia, brushed pedals, red air-vent surrounds and the obligatory red instrument needles highlight a cockpit that envelops its occupants and signals plenty of intent. By contrast, the GTI’s cabin feels more airy and less concerned about making a statement. While there is red highlighting, it is reserved for the stitching, door lighting and instrument needles.

As pointed out in previous reviews of the new A-Class range, its standard infotainment screen, though large and clear, lacks the refinement and ease-of-use of some of its rivals’ examples. To this end, the Golf’s touchscreen offers more convenience and arguably looks less aftermarket than Mercedes-Benz’s dash-mounted unit. Volkswagen also offers dual-zone climate control as standard fitment on the GTI, while the A250 includes a manually operated air-conditioning system as standard.

It says a lot about how far VW has brought its best-selling people’s car that the upmarket feel of materials and general build quality of a Golf’s cabin have surpassed those of the historically more premium Mercedes-Benz. While we noted some cruising-speed wind noise in both cars, it’s the GTIs interior that certainly makes a more premium impression.

Both cars make use of turbocharged 2,0-litre engines mated with dual-clutch transmissions. The re-engineering of Volkswagen’s tried and trusty EA888 unit has included a new cylinder head that incorporates a water-cooled exhaust-gas recirculation system, while in this application it produces 162 kW of power (exactly double that of the legendary Mk1 GTI). More significant, though, is the fact that the seventh-generation GTI now produces 350 N.m of torque available from 1 500 r/min, 70 N.m more than the previous example.

Where the A250 matches the Golf for available torque, it is available even lower down in the rev range (from 1 200 r/min). Its direct-injection motor produces 155 kW of power channelled exclusively via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Continue to page 2…

Prices And Specs

Make MERCEDES A-Class VW Golf 7
Model A250 Sport 5-dr MY13 AT Golf 7 2.0 TSI GTI 5-dr DSG
Retail Price R481 888,00 R422 800,00
kw 155 162
Torque 350 350
0-100km 6.6 6.5
Top Speed 240 244
Fuel Type Petrol Petrol
Fuel Consumption 8.4 8.1
Tyre Size Front 235/40 R18 225/40 R18
Tyre Size Rear 235/40 R18 225/40 R18
Rear Tyre Size Width 235 225
Rear Tyre Size Profile 40 40
Rear Tyre Rim Size 18 18
Spare Tyre Size 235/40 R18 Space saver
Tyre Pressure Monitor Yes Yes
Wheelbase 2699 2631

Safety And Features

Air Conditioner Manual Automatic
Audio System CD Shuttle USB CD Frontloader USB
Rev Counter Yes Yes
Gearbox Electronic Electronic
ABS Brakes Yes Yes
Power Steering Yes Yes
Seats 5 5
Steering Wheel Heated No No
Speakers 6 8
Colour Coded Bumpers Body Colour Body Colour
Leather Trim Full Full
Alarm Yes Yes
Anti Skid Control Yes Yes
Electronic Defferential No Yes
Gears 7 6
Height 1430 1442
Onboard Computer Yes Yes
Immobiliser Yes Yes
Split Rear Seats Yes Yes
Brake Assist Yes Yes
Electric Seats - -
Cup Holders Yes Yes
Electric Mirrors Yes Yes
Electric Windows Front Rear Front Rear
Airbag DPS DPS
Doors 5 5
Airbag Driver Yes Yes
Airbag Passenger Yes Yes
Navigation System Optional Optional
Park Assistance Optional Optional
Side Impact Protection Bars Yes Yes
Sunroof Optional Optional
Fog Lamps Front No Yes
Fog Lamps Rear Yes Yes
Headlight Type Bi-Xenon Halogen
Towbar No Optional
Payload - -
Bull Bar - -

  • Miguel

    I Pick the Mercedes by far! Best in everything!

    • Benny

      You are right Mesedes is the best

  • Frodo

    Check the scoreboard: Golf 84, A Class 77. A clear win for Wolfsburg. And as the Car testers concluded: “Owners of rival products are likely to concur with what two testers had to say in their notes on the GTI: it’s annoyingly good.”

  • Frodo

    Golf just became the first ever foreign car to take the Japanese car of the year title. How can you argue against that? World, Europe and now Japan. Must be the favorite for the SA Coty as well

  • mlondozie

    Decided to bite the bullet and get a black full spec GTi. It will be the first time I am going into VW territory. Makes the focus seem like an old generation corsa!!! The Mercedes has a cheap tablet stuck with chewing gum on the dashboard and entry to the boot is simply ridiculous! Was not a fan of the Golf… but after the test drive am converted!!!