Was in market for a bit 'more' than a Civic or Corolla (last car I owned). The Golf seems more solid, quiet, smooth, I mean it's very smooth, no engine vibration. Seats are firm, handling is good, but, if you really push it, you will want the GTI - which I considered, but wanted the TDI (for the mileage). I am getting 44.1 mpg (so far), city/highway. Had minor problem with oil leak - dealer said bad O-ring on intercooler. Had to wait 2 days for part, but dealer set me up with (free) loaner. Not all bad I guess. This car is FUN to drive. Hit the radio, open the sunroof, and Drive! It simply has a much better driving feel when compared to similar cars, and the 6 speed manual is VERY smooth!!
6 speed manual transmission, tires, bluetooth, radio, MP3 cable (this allows you to control your iPod with the controls on the car so you don't have to dig for your iPod when driving), clean/simple instrumentation, torque, leather- wrapped and smaller size steering wheel, very quiet interior.
Other interior colors (other than black), a detent position (to denote closed) on the sunroof dial, have either bigger or brighter ink on the icons used to label the vent positions as the dial kind of hides the icons when viewed from driver seat.