I own an 07 Mazdaspeed 3 and a 2007 VW GTI. The speed wins hands down for spirited driving on a back country road but suffers in town. A very short 1st gear and stiff suspension makes for a taxing drive in stop and go traffic. I take the GTI for around town driving and leave the Speed for the weekends. Oh and I average 15mpg city and 28-30mpg freeway. That's even when I skip gears and drive very lightly. The GTI on the other hand returns on average 20-25mpg city.
Motor and handling.
taller 1st gear for city driving. Work on the torque steer. Gas mileage.