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Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG vs. Volkswagen Golf GTI

Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

Key specs: £37,850. 355 bhp and 332 lb /ft.

Looking at the stats, it's unfair to compare the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG against the Volkswagen Golf GTI. With 355 bhp and 332 lb /ft coming from the Merc's 2-litre turbocharged engine, the A45 AMG would destroy the Golf GTI in a straight line and it would even show a clean pair of heels to the outgoing Golf R.

With prices for both cars expected to be only separated by £12,000, though, they are closer competitors than you may think for the buyer with enough disposable income. So which is best?

Well if outright grunt is what you're after, there's no question the A45 AMG betters the golf in every possible scenario.

Inside, the cabin is of a higher quality too. The carbon fiber dash and leathers make for a stunning contrast, and the seating position in the A-class - never mind the A45 AMG - is top rate.

Mercedes claims  that the A45 AMG will achieve 34mpg on a combined cycle and 161g/km of CO2 with stop start technology. The car will reach 62mph in 4.6sec while top speed is limited to 155mph. That's very impressive if I may say so, especially for a car that exudes so much class.

On the move the A45 AMG will benefit from the standard A-class sound cushioning. This means that at motorway speeds you won't be able to hear a thing. The refinement of the A-class is so good that step in to a VW, Audi or BMW competitor, you feel like you're riding in a tractor.

But is that what you want from a hot hatch? Probably not. After all, the sounds, grunts and squeal of tyres are what hot hatches are all about. Whilst the A45 AMG is a deadly fast car, it won't feel all that involving when it comes to the track.

Still that doesn't matter to company car drivers, who are likely to get good deals on the new AMG. The extra horsepower and torque of the A45 AMG make sure that at motorway speeds the car will cruise past a Golf GTI like it's standing still. The GTI will catch up eventually, though, given both cars are limited to 155 mph.

Big brakes, an advanced ESP system and 18-inch alloy wheels on 235/40 rubber make sure the A45 holds its own when things get tricky. Not that you'll have fun doing it. Imagine wearing ear buds, wrapping yourself in bubble wrap and riding a bike fast down a hill. You just experienced the A45 AMG. Oh and it cost you £37,000. Can you hear that? That's the sound of a Golf GTI driver laughing all the way to the bank.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Key specs: £25,285. 217 bhp and 258 lb /ft.

A lot of horsepower. Front wheel drive. Solid build quality and enough boot space to do the weekly shop. Is that the formula VW has used to produce two prior Golf GTI's that blew the competition away?

With owner reviews scattered across the net it appears so. The beautiful thing to the Golf GTI is its multi-purpose appeal. It'll tango with bigger cars, it'll get your kids to school safe and sound, and it will even hold your golf clubs.

The new MK7 Golf GTI which goes on sale in June follows this formula but makes everything bigger. The standard car, for example, comes with a 217bhp 2.0-litre twin charged engine delivering 258 lb /ft, which is much more than the outgoing model. This makes the new GTI the most powerful Golf GTI ever, and it even shares the same torque level as the Golf and Scirocco R.

Design wise it is impossible to mistake the MK7 Golf for anything but a Golf. VW has always seen fit to design every new generation of Golf with the thought process evolution not revolution, and for some buyers, that may be a down side.

Not that the new GTI is a boring car to look at. The now familiar red stripe along the front bumper tells the poor car you nearly rear ended not to mess with you, and the LED lighting is a touch of class.

Inside the cabin boasts amazing quality too. The tartan red seats set the interior alive and the red stitching on the steering wheel compliments it. Leather is also available for buyers who demand superior comfort.

Out on the road the GTI comes alive. It is perfectly balanced, the DSG gear box is wonderful and the car develops speed with impressive clout.

It's a good car the MK7 Golf GTI. It's fast enough, it's comfortable enough, and in terms of depreciation and reliability you can do much worse than a VW. In 2013, it's not a real contender for king of speed status out on the roads versus the A45 AMG, but you'll have way more fun. Trust me.

The judge

Without a doubt the A45 AMG looks better than the Golf GTI. It's faster too. But with the A45 AMG costing so much more than the GTI my money is on the VW. It looks good enough, it goes well enough, and it'll retain its value well enough. Opt for the winter pack, too, that way you can heat up your bum this winter.

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