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Red Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2013-2018 vs Yellow Volkswagen Golf 2013-2020

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: used car comparison

Which is best, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2013-2018) or the Volkswagen Golf (2013-2020)? Our guide can help you decide.

Phill Tromans Cazoo

By Phill Tromans

Published: 28th February 2024

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the Volkswagen Golf are two of the most popular mid-size hatchbacks around, but which might be best for you? Here, we’ll compare the two and give you the pros and cons of each.

We’re looking at the previous-generation versions of both cars – the Mercedes-Benz A-Class sold new between 2013 and 2018, and the Volkswagen Golf sold new between 2013 and 2020.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: size

Both the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the Volkswagen Golf are mid-size hatchbacks, comparable in size to cars such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

The size differences are small – the Mercedes is less than 2cm longer at 430cm, while both are 202cm wide, including the side mirrors. The Mercedes sits lower at 143cm compared to 145cm for the Volkswagen.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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Volkswagen Golf

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: interior and tech

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has an interior that shares many features with the brand’s larger and more expensive models. Some of the plastic parts don’t feel quite as high-quality, but overall it has a premium look and feel.

Cars made from 2015 feel newer, with updated interior tech. While all have a tablet-like screen on top of the dashboard, these later models also have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and most have larger screens than before.

Compared with the Mercedes interior, the Volkswagen looks a bit functional but it feels just as solid and well-made.

Indeed, the Golf feels more premium than rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra and, while it’s not showy, it feels classy overall. The infotainment system looks good and is very easy to use, and all versions made after the Golf’s 2017 upgrade support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Volkswagen Golf

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: practicality

The Volkswagen Golf gives you more passenger space than you get with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Both cars are perfectly spacious for adults in the front, but things are tighter in the back of the Mercedes than in the VW. Children will be fine in the back of the A-Class, but taller adults are likely to feel a bit cramped because legroom is rather limited. The Golf is more practical, with ample back-seat space for two grown-ups.

Storage is good on both cars, with cupholders, deep door pockets and even storage bins under the front centre armrest. A-Classes with a manual gearbox get extra space between the front seats, because the gear selector is mounted on the steering column.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Volkswagen Golf

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: boot space

If you’re after maximum boot space, the Volkswagen Golf is the car to go for. Most versions of the Golf have 380 litres of space in the boot, compared with 341 litres in the A-Class.

That said, the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE models, and the electric e-Golf, have less boot space because of their batteries,  dropping the capacity to 272 litres. If you need even more boot space, you could look at a Golf Estate model, which gives you 605 litres.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Volkswagen Golf

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: which is best to drive?

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a good all-rounder that strikes a balance between comfort and sportiness in the way it drives. Its compact size makes it easy to park, too.

The Volkswagen Golf gives you a more responsive feel, though, along with a smoother ride and the choice of some especially smooth and quiet engines.

Both cars are available as performance models, which are more entertaining to drive. The Golf has several versions of the GTI and the all-wheel-drive R model, while the A-Class is available in very powerful Mercedes-AMG versions.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Volkswagen Golf

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: which costs less to own?

As a premium car from a premium brand, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class will probably cost you more to buy than an equivalent Volkswagen Golf, although the difference may not be as much as you’d imagine.

Both cars are fuel-efficient: according to official figures the A-Class will give you more than 60mpg if you go for a diesel model, while the most-efficient petrol model will give you up to 52mpg.

The Golf has more than just diesel and petrol models, with a plug-in hybrid option called the Golf GTE and the pure-electric e-Golf, which promises up to 186 miles on a single battery charge. Petrol Golfs will deliver up to 50mpg, depending on the engine, while diesels can manage as much as 74mpg.

It’s worth noting that service, maintenance and repair on the A-Class is likely to be  more expensive than on the Golf, a reflection of its premium status.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Volkswagen Golf

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: safety and reliability

Volkswagen has a solid reputation for reliability, with independent ranking results usually placing it mid-pack among other manufacturers. Mercedes tends to fare less well, and often sits relatively low in the rankings. Both cars are now out of their factory warranties, which lasted three years from new.

Both cars were tested by the independent safety organisation Euro NCAP in 2012. While each scored the maximum five stars. standards and testing criteria have advanced since then. Still, each is packed with what were the latest safety features for the time, and later models include more modern safety tech such as automatic emergency braking.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: dimensions

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Length: 4,299mm

Width: 2,022mm (including door mirrors)

Height: 1,433mm

Boot space: 341 litres

Volkswagen Golf

Length: 4,285mm

Width: 2,027mm (including door mirrors)

Height: 1,452mm

Boot space: 272-380 litres

Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Volkswagen Golf: verdict

Winner: Volkswagen Golf

The Mercedes A-Class is a capable, comfortable hatchback that lets you own a Mercedes for much less than you’d have to pay for larger models. It’s very nice inside, drives well and, at used prices, gives you good value.

However, the Volkswagen Golf is a tremendous all-rounder. It feels better to drive, offers more choices when it comes to power and is more practical. It’s also cheaper to buy and run, and while it doesn’t match the premium quality of the Mercedes interior, it’s not far behind. If you’re set on the A-Class, we won’t hesitate to recommend it,  but we think the Golf is the better car overall.

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