Volkswagen Golf 7 named Car of the Year, challenges the Mercedes A-Class

Over the years, the Golf has established itself in the minds of the general public as the benchmark agreement, both in terms of build quality and reliability. Rightly or wrongly, she now has an enviable aura, which puts her above her direct competitors, be they French, German, Japanese or Italian.

On the contrary, Mercedes-Benz is new in this segment. The new A-Class has nothing to do with the hitherto known pickup truck. The traditional sedan, now seeking to take on the Audi A3 and BMW 1 series … However, thanks to its solid reputation, the Volkswagen Golf can attract this emerging star.

Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI (2013). Photo © LQA – N. Meunier

If the coat of arms of the Mercedes A180 CDI is prestigious, then its heart is not something noble. The first outgrowth of the association between Daimler and Renault-Nissan, it takes over the 1.5 dCi four-cylinder diesel engine that Diamond has introduced in all models in its range or nearly many years ago. Note however that with the dual-clutch box, the A 180 CDI retains the Mercedes 1.8 four-cylinder, derived from the OM651 block. German engineers did not have time to adapt the French engine to the automatic transmission.

In use, this block does its job happily. Soft and efficient enough, however, it’s not as discreet as Mercedes-Benz would like it to say. It will therefore be necessary to count on an average of 5.7 l / 100 km on the road, which is exactly what we observed with the B180 CDI equipped with a Mercedes engine, an 80 kg heavier model. Renault’s block seems to be somewhat less efficient in terms of internal friction: the A180 CDI did not have the unusual tendency to maintain the momentum that we observed in the B-segment. Nevertheless, the consumption is very acceptable, with 5.8 l / 100 km registered on the highway and 7.1 l / 100 km city.

Volkswagen Golf 7 1.6 TDI 105 HP (2013)
Volkswagen Golf 7 1.6 TDI 105 hp (2013). Photo © LQA – N. Meunier

At this point, our competitors are tagging themselves in panties. A little more greedy on the highway (5.9 l / 100 km), the Volkswagen Golf TDI 105 proved more economical than the Mercedes on the road (5.6 l / 100 km) and in the city (6.8 l / 100 km). The automatic start system, which contributes to this sobriety, is too long to relax so as not to bother you in the city. From this point of view, Class A is no better off. Less flexible than the 1.5 Renault, 1.6 TDI 105 Volkswagen has been significantly improved: no more unbearable vacuum at low revs! If there is still a little idleness (and therefore noise during acceleration at low revs), then this block is now very frequent. It must be said that with the transition to the seventh generation of Golf, it has completely changed, even if its technical data sheet looks identical. This is a member of the new EA288 family of engines, adapted to the modular MQB platform.

This modular platform allows the Volkswagen Group to offer different rear axles in its Golf cars. So this comparison was an opportunity for us to master for the first time a model equipped with a “basic” rear axle with a deformable cross member, which will account for the majority of sales in France (it is about less powerful engines). Good news: This less complex ground connection doesn’t have much effect on road behavior in compact Wolfsburg. Admittedly, the bumps tend to make the rear jump and pump the car off-road, in the absence of controlled damping (a typical Volkswagen disease). But paradoxically, with a rear that is less firmly on the ground, this golf basic has a more neutral temperament, less sloppy and therefore less boring.

Volkswagen Golf 7 1.6 TDI 105 HP (2013)
The interior of the Golf is distinguished by the quality of assembly. Photo © LQA – C. Pinet

Nearby, the A-Class feels less rugged, with a quicker backdrop to pick up on soft ground. The main grievance concerns the steering assistance, which it frankly missed: It has an unfortunate tendency to stiffen when steering at a constant angle, or when the front tires reach their grip limit. If the golf is more informative, it’s also not perfect, with a response time a bit over-sensitive, especially for small straight-line corrections. The damping solution can also be improved. Stronger than the B-Class Because it’s more sporty, the A-Class doesn’t offer the same comfort. In addition, the Mercedes imposes much more aerodynamic noise and spin than a Golf.

Premium and half and a half

With a star on the hood, the A-Class is expected to have an impeccable finish. The dashboard is certainly attractive, with its very round aluminum air vents and its foam plastic front. The fact remains that some details indicate, such as the doors that resonate when closed. BAlthough golf is tougher, it has a better finish, both indoors and out. The accuracy of the assemblies, the accuracy of sheet metal, the adjustments of the joints … The most elegant model is not the one we believe in: the “people’s car” managed to outpace the Mercedes pawn on its floor.

Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI (2013)
Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI (2013). Photo © LQA – N. Meunier

The confrontation turns out to be a disaster for Mercedes when one pays attention to the practical aspects. It measures 4.29 meters in length, has a clearance of 4 centimeters to the golf course, but nevertheless offers more spaciousness in the rear seats and a less spacious trunk: 341 liters compared to 380 liters. In addition, the Volkswagen rear seat is better designed and undoubtedly more comfortable.

If there’s one area where the Mercedes-Benz A-Class doesn’t forget its high-end profession, it’s pricing. At €26,400 on the basic intuitive end, the A 180 CDI finds the Golf TDI 105 Confortline against it, less expensive (€25,670) and better equipped: cruise control, parking radar and dual-zone air conditioning are part of the crew in the series . Inferior to golf in many points, Class A can only justify this difference by the prestige of its coat of arms but not by its intrinsic qualities.

Volkswagen Golf 7 1.6 TDI 105 hp and Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI (2013)
Volkswagen Golf 7 1.6 TDI 105 hp and Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI (2013). Photo © LQA – C. Pinet
in summary
Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI
the most seduction style
The interior is fun
the least Unpleasant guidance
calculate housing
Volkswagen Golf TDI 105
the most Consumption contained
Lick the end
Generous habitability
the least Hollow engine at low revs
” comfort 3/5
» Prices / Equipment 3/5
” performance 3/5
” consumption 4/5
“Carbon Dioxide 4/5
” comfort 4/5
» Prices / Equipment 4/5
” performance 3/5
” consumption 4/5
“Carbon Dioxide 4/5

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