Launched in 1976, the Golf GTI was the pioneer of hot hatches, sporty 5-door cars that could fit your entire family but still manage to hit the corners and bring a smile to your face. Now it finds itself in a fairly crowded market, with one of it’s greatest rivals coming from it’s home country of Germany courtesy Mercedes with the A250. Let’s see if it squares up to my daily drive!
Looks: The refreshed 2016 A-class looks just as good – it’s front-fascia resembling the C-class even more giving the car a much more upmarket look compared to the GTI. I also love the car’s side profile with it’s contrasting creases – it definitely has to be the best one for a hatchback out there. The sports rims are a winner too, making the car looking like a perfect mix of athleticism and class. Winner: Mercedes A250
Interiors: If carbon-fiber (even faux one) and racy AC vents are your thing, then you’ll love the A250. I also loved the ‘floating tablet’ infotainment system in the Merc. One thing I did not love as much, though, was the awkward column shifter gear – they only belong in fat American SUVs from the 90s. The GTI’s cabin is on the exact same level in terms of quality, fit and finish but the racing enthusiast in me picks the A250 over the GTI. Winner: Mercedes A250
Drive: The Mercedes A250’s exhaust note sounds eager when you press the ignition, but that eagerness doesn’t really come through when you hit the corners – don’t get me wrong, the A250 is a fast and agile car, but a combination of turbo lag and front-wheel-drive issues make it a lot less thrilling than the GTI (which, too, has a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel-drive). In the case of pure driving pleasure, the OG hot hatch (GTI) still reigns supreme. Winner: Volkswagen Golf GTI
Pricing: The GTI starts at AED 119,379 while the A250 starts at around 148,289 so you obviously pay a premium for the better looks and the more comfortable cabin
Verdict: The A250 has an upper hand in terms of looks and interior but gets pounded by the GTI when taken out on a track day. Personally, I would still take my GTI over the A250 but if you’re more of a shower than the A250 should be right down your lane.
^Special thanks to Mercedes Benz Middle East and Sabina Kanwal for the A250