Overall I am extremely happy with this purchase, and the engine in particular has exceeded my expectations.
I drove it brand-new (TDI) from Montreal to Chicago, with mostly highway driving and got a total _average_ of 49 + miles per gallon (4.7 litres / 100km), with peak segments getting 57 mpg.
This was mostly at ~70 mph, and without cruise control. I took a little detour for curves and hills while on the trip and yes, the torque and the suspension is impressive. My only quibbles are the interior: my elderly (extremely skinny) dad said that after an hour of sitting the seats were uncomfortable for him, easily solved with a thick extra cushion. However, see my suggested improvements below.
The hill-hold assist is very useful while I'm learning the clutch (this is my first manual); the amount of storage space is breathtakingly good - I fit two 6.5 foot posts in the back (diagonally), and my mountain bike; the seat for me was very comfortable over multiple 9-hour drives.
The 'door pockets' hold a lot of CDs.
The gear shift is perfectly weighted and smooth and the dials and readouts are very logical and readable.
The interior is very pretty but it's a hot useless mess to use. First the main media panel shows only the time when off, and the dealer says no customization is possible for the big screen in the middle there.
More important, there's extremely little place to put stuff, all the cubbies are spread into wierd non-sensical compartments; only two cupholders which require twisting your arm to use; and the sun-shades are both too small and recessed, i.e. hard to pull out.
It would be great if the front seat could fold flat to provide more storage. I would like a dedicated change bin as well, and think VW could steal a lot from its competitors. This is a car made to drive, not to ride in.