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Mercedes-Benz A250 Engineered by AMG 4Matic vs. VW Golf GTI

Mercedes-Benz A250 AMG 4Matic

Mercedes-Benz A250 Engineered by AMG 4Matic

If you’re looking to buy a Golf GTI, the motoring press would tell you to look towards the Ford Focus ST and Vauxhall Astra VXR as competitors for your money – both cars are cheaper, and both are faster. But are they competitors, really? When you think about it, a Volkswagen Golf is so far ahead than those two cars on badge appeal, refinement, and residuals that they can’t really touch the appeal of a GTI – it’s all-round abilities make it an impeccable family hot hatch.

For a long time, there have been no German competitors to the Golf GTI. That has now changed. In 2013, Mercedes-Benz launched their new A-Class and with it the A250 Engineered by AMG. This car sits second to top in the A-Class range, behind only the super expensive and ludicrously fast A45 AMG.

The A250 Engineered by AMG is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 208 bhp and 258 lb /ft of torque between 1200 and 4000 rpm. It boasts a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission complete with flappy paddles and combined with its all-wheel-drive, it will sprint from 0 – 62 mph in 6.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 149 mph.

Fast? You bet. Put your foot down in the A250 and it surges forward with all the gusto you’d expect a hot family hatch to. It is actually a lot quicker than you expect, and especially so above 2000 rpm when the engine is safely developing its maximum torque. The engine is extremely flexible and offers good pull in any gear. The only problem is the gearbox; it just isn’t as sharp as it needs to be, and it dumbs down what is a peach of a power plant. The 7-speed auto might keep CO2 emissions below 150 g/km, but it’s so hopelessly slow that to drive the VW alternative feels like a god-send.

And then there’s the ride. It’s harsh. No matter how smooth a road is and no matter how slowly you go over speed bumps the A250 Engineered by AMG shakes from the inside it gets down-right annoying after a while. We have Mercedes to thank for this – the Engineered by AMG has a different suspension set up to the Sport, something which was done to create a firmer ride and a better twisty road experience.

Still, at least this A-Class looks fantastic. It benefits from larger 18-inch alloy wheels, a unique pin-type grill that’s nothing short of stunning and lots of little AMG badges.

The biggest issue with the A-Class A250 Engineered by AMG is not any of the above, though. Simply, it is currently close to £3000 more than a 5-door Golf GTI. When the Volkswagen Golf R is released sometime next year with 296 bhp and more road presence than even an A45, the A250 Engineered by AMG will cost only £1000 less than it. So, when you take into account this cars performance, and what the future beholds, this Mercedes-Benz simply isn’t a good deal.

So it looks great, it goes well, but you’d have to really, really love the A250’s pin-type grill to buy one. 

VW Golf GTI

VW Golf GTI

As you can probably tell from my A250 entry, I much prefer the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The A250 Engineered by AMG turns more heads than the Golf GTI with its striking design, but it doesn’t drive as well, nor is it anywhere near as affordable.

The Mercedes-Benz costs £30,905 on-the-road. A Volkswagen Golf GTI 5-door costs just £26,780. That’s a considerable amount of money. Granted, the A250 has 4Matic all-wheel-drive, which means it’s going to be a useful tool when the snow starts to fall. But other than that, those extra thousands of pounds get you less car.

The new Golf GTI is, like its predecessor, powered by a 2.0 TSI engine. This version of the engine has however been slightly modernised for performance and emissions, and it produces a very respectable 217 bhp and 258 lb /ft of torque – the very same level of torque as the last generation Golf GTD.

In a straight line, both the A250 and Golf GTI are evenly matched on paper, with both sprinting from 0 – 62 mph in 6.5 seconds. In the real-world, however, the GTI has legs on the A250, thanks to the faster gear changes. A dash from 0 – 71 mph puts the GTI around half a car length ahead of the A250.

In everyday driving, the Golf GTI is simply wonderful. The seats are comfortable, the interior is of an exceptional quality, and the level of refinement for a family hatchback is incredible. The A250 and all A-Class benefit from a more striking design than the Golf in terms of interior, but this is off-set by the slightly cheaper materials and the slightly lower quality switchgear.

So, the Golf GTI is faster than the A250, but it is also much nicer to drive around town and on the motorway. The GTI has VAG’s semi-automatic dual-clutch DSG gearbox, which hands down trumps what the A250 has – this gearbox changes down and up when you want it to, and it is almost always in the correct gear. It is also faster and more seamless.

Combine that with the wonderful 2.0 TSI engine, and you have a car that’s fantastic to drive at the limit and comfortable and involving with two children in the back.

At the pumps, the Golf GTI will return a combined fuel consumption of 47.1 miles per gallon versus the A250’s 42.8 miles per gallon. In terms of road tax, the Golf GTI has a CO2 output of 139 g/km which translates to an annual cost of £125. The A250 has a CO2 output of 154 g/m, which means it’ll cost £175 annually. So, not only is the A250 more expensive to buy than a GTI, it’s also more costly to fuel and tax.

Ultimately, the Golf GTI is the best car here today. It’s better to drive and it’s considerably cheaper to buy and own. The A250 might look better but it’s no match for the GTI’s abilities. When the Golf R comes out at just £1000 more than the A250, Mercedes-Benz might want to think hard about where the A250 should go.

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