I love my GTI. I have one of the first 24V VR6 GTIs as it is a 2002.5 model. I agree that the suspension is a bit soft, but I had the dealer install Eibach springs within two months of owning it and that made a huge difference in the handling. I also installed a rear sway bar which helped a ton with the understeer. The car is rock stable at speeds of 85+ mph. I regularly get 30+ mpg on the highway if i stay under 80 mph. The VR6 rumble is music to my ears. After replacing the stock tires, the road noise went down and traction was less of a problem when getting on it. All the room in the back is great for carrying all sorts of stuff.
The engine, it just goes and the tranny is super smooth. I also like the safety features. I haven't had to use them yet, but six air bags in a car this small is a great idea. Also, the seats are nice
The stock tires are horrible and some better reliability would be nice. I've had the coil packs, sunroof, water pump, and power windows replaced under warranty and I had to pay for a new MAF and brake light switch when it was no longer under warranty. Also, I wish it was lighter.