Did you ever envision a world where a Volkswagen would directly compete with Mercedes-Benz? Directly compete might be a stretch here, because there are some notable discrepancies between these two hot hatchbacks. The first is price, as the AMG A45 S is way more expensive than the Golf R. It’s also considerably more powerful, but is enough to justify paying nearly £20,000 extra in the UK?
That’s what the crew at Carwow decided to find out in their latest drag race video. As always, we’ll start by presenting the facts as they compare on paper. The Golf R pumps out 315 horsepower (235 kilowatts) from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Of course, the Mercedes-AMG A45 S also runs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot, but it’s a bit more lively at 416 hp (310 kW). Both hatchbacks turn all four wheels and shift gears with dual-clutch transmissions, though Mercedes offers eight speeds versus seven in the VW.
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With a 100-hp (75-kW) advantage, the muscular AMG seems like the sure bet in this challenge, but don’t jump to conclusions just yet. It carries over 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of extra mass versus the Golf R, and more cogs in the gearbox don’t always translate to superior acceleration. The ratios and how they match with the engine’s powerband are more important than simply having extra speeds.
As per usual, multiple races are held both from a dig and a roll, with the roll races stretching out to a mile for some proper high-speed runs. And as per usual, we see both cars claim victories in the series of races. Does this mean the Golf R actually hangs with the A45 S in contests of speed?
It does … provided the driver in the Merc isn’t spot-on with things such as launching or shifting. Yes, we know it’s not exactly tough to launch an all-wheel-drive car, especially one with launch control. And shifting the A45 S in sport mode can be tricky if you fail to pull the paddle before it bounces off the limiter. But hey, it happens in the video so take it as you will.
When things are equal, the Merc steadily pulls away as the stats would suggest. On the longer roll race, the A45 S really pulls away, but still, in a lower-speed environment or at a drag strip, the VW isn’t an easy win. The million-dollar question (or rather, the £20,000 question) is whether the added performance and panache of the Mercedes is a justified expense for hot hatch shoppers.
And for that, we leave the discussion to you, Motor1.com readers.