My dad's first car was a 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI that he still drives and it still runs great, so I knew exactly what I wanted when I was looking for my first car (GTI was my first choice, but a little pricey :/). First time manual driver, but the car is so forgiving and so fun once I figured it out. I test drove the Fit, Fiesta, Sonata, Focus, Nissan Versa, and Fusion. No other car in this price range even came close. You just can't beat the styling and drive of a German car. Has tons of room for the rear seats, drives solidly and quietly at 80+ on the highway, and also is really maneuverable in city traffic. I'm getting about 33 mpg driving on highways about 70% of the time.
Heated seats, Bluetooth, lane change signals, manual transmission (the manuals on comparable cars weren't great), styling of the car both inside and out, and lots of room for such a small-looking car. It's a car that I know I'll have for a long long time and it'll still look great 20 years from now.
Gas mileage is a little on the low side for comparable vehicles. One bigger cupholder in the front would be nice, since I have to reach around to put my coffee in the rear center cupholder. The option of alloy wheels on the 2.5L would be nice.