The good: Exterior styling, particularly in silver is pretty nice and an improvement over the last gen. Performance is ok for the class, but definitely go with a stick. Interior design generally a step above competition, but there is some definite and annoying cost-cutting. The not-so-good: No covered interior storage outside of the glovebox, junky radio with sat option - touchscreen with Sirius only available on TDI, no armrest - seems small, but gets annoying quickly. I got the base Golf only because I couldn't afford a TDI and there are no Mazda dealers close to me to get a 3. With a few upgrades, it could be a great compact, but the skimping makes it better than avg, but not great.
Exterior styling, decent power for it's class (with the stick), generally well-executed and high-quality interior.
A six-speed manual, a better stereo with sat radio option (even last year's higher-end model would be a huge improvement - I can't swap out due to the lease), including the great armrest/storage space found on the TDI/GTI.