I recently purchased a 2005 GTI 1.8T w/ the 5-speed manual transmission. This is an awesome car. I'm 21 yrs old and this is the best car i've ever owned. I previously had a 2000 VW Jetta, but this doesn't compare at all. I ordered this car with the 17" rims, luxury package, heated seats, 6-disc CD changer..etc. Nice package. I has good pickup, but the turbo needs to spool, but this car seems to love premium gas, because it consumes more than I would have thought...but thats ok, it's worht it. The reverse on VW's have always kind of hard to engage, but it gets better with time. Handling is great, expecially with my 17" rims on it. All in all, its a great kid car to have!
My favorite features are the rims of course, the monsoon sound system, the 3- spoke leather steering wheel, and the usefulness of the hatchback.
The hatchback seems to rattle over bumps, which I don't like. The reverse gear on the manual transmission is hard to engage from time to time, ESP should come standard instead of ASR, electronic climate control wouldn't hurt.