I was torn between a Golf and the Ford Focus. Ultimately, the interior detail and materials sold me on the Golf. It looks like an Audi on the inside (especially at night!). My cloth seats are comfortable and ergonomically correct. I can fit 4 adults in the car without it feeling cramped. Currently getting approx 315 miles per tank. It's really a quality vehicle. The only downside is that my service light has come twice in the past year that I've owned it. The computer on the vehicle needed an update. Although the updates are free at VW, its time consuming and annoying. Service guy told me its like owning an iphone and there's no warning when you might get the light.
I've owned this car for just a couple weeks, but I can already tell this is the great car I hoped it would be. It doesn't come with the most features, it doesn't get the best gas mileage, and it doesn't have the most back seat room. But if you want a car that makes you say "Ahhhhhh" every time you get in and can't spend $35k, get a Golf. Think of it like the iPhone of the car world: the best designed, most well executed, solid-feeling car you can buy for the money. Drive this, then drive something else - you'll be frustrated.
The engine is smooth and surprisingly powerful. The transmission is good, but regular mode is a bit economy minded - Sport mode is where I leave it most of the time.
Information display, 8-way adjustable front seats, adjustable center arm rest, auto up/down windows all around, Rolex-like gauges, cooled glove box, the best steering in any car (ever), transmission sport mode: all the little things you buy a Volkswagen for.
The seat bolsters are great while cornering, but they are a bit over-bolstered for highway cruising.
One feature I wish it had is auto headlights.
The manual-shift mode in the transmission is a little to nanny-ish (won't hold the redline, etc.). Could use a bit more interior storage.
The performance of the standard wheels and tires is underwhelming, so I highly recommend upgrading to a set of 17 inch wheels. I drove both and it makes a world of difference, so I did and have not regretted it.
The ride is still great on the highway.
I spent six months researching cars before subscribing to Consumer's. They had listed the Golf as the number 1 hatchback. I had looked at one before, but someone had told me they heard from a friend that they weren't really good cars, so I stopped considering them. But I decided to get a quote to see what I could buy one for.
I was really impressed with the price quote (less than invoice) so I went to test drive. It drove like a dream and had everything I was looking for in a car. I even got 1.84% for five years.
In the end it was a no-brainer: great car for a great price. I've only had it five weeks, but I love it so far.
A lot of power for a small car. Handles well. Interior is better quality than other cars I looked at in that price range. Good stereo with Sirius.
I got the 4 door hatchback with the base 2.5 engine. Like most VWs this is a driver's car. It's still built in Germany. Great feel on the road, very comfortable seats and a sophisticated feeling suspension. Very little road/wind noise. I have been getting around 27 mpg with mostly hwy driving. This powertrain has enough pep for my needs while still using regular gas. There's lots of room with the seats folded down. VW still has great lease rates if you can negotiate.
Automatic trans with "S" mode stays in gears longer which is great in heavy traffic where you have to accelerate quickly, or going downhill to save brakes.
Feels very solid, comfortable and quiet.
No leather option available for my trim.
Rear seat leg room cramped for adults.