I bought my GTI new and it was my first car. I have loved it!!! It's been very reliable and fun to drive, as well as economical on gas, a great value. I have had no problems with the car and it has over 40,000 mi on it now. I am happy to have had this as my first car! I hope to keep it until it finally dies one day.
Engine, DSG gearbox, brakes and suspension.
Make the lumbar support for the seats better, but other than that it is very nicely built.
I bought this car new.
It now has 110,000 miles on it (more highway than city) and it's been 100% reliant.
All I've ever done is maintenance, oil changes, tires around 60K, brakes around 70K, a taillight.
I had the a/c compressor just go out (around 95,000) and I just got the timing chain redone for piece of mind.
The biggest pain really has been changing the air filter.
I have the manual and wow, it is still fun to drive 6 years later.
I've never been able to go into an automated car wash though because the design on that rear wiper is awful. It has a cheap plastic housing that is open and anything will bust it off and if that happens, when you hit the rear wiper spray you will spray a car about 30 feet behind you.
I have been pleasantly surprised by this car. bought it new so I could get a warrranty as I was not sure of VW quality. I now have close to 70k on it, and haven't had any problems. It's a blast to drive and gets good mileage (25 - 30+, depending on the type of driving I do). The manual transmission is fun to shift; I have tried several others since having this car, and they all seem cheap and clunky to me now. Definitely one of my all-time favorite cars.
Acceleration, design, front seats, reliability, functionality, mileage.
Of course, more power would always be nice. My main gripe is how the car obsessive-compulsively locks itself any chance it gets. You can't exit the car and open the hatch without having to use your fob.
Bought my 2007 4-door GTI as a CPO in 2009 with 35k miles. Have put about 20k miles on it in approx 2 years. Haven't had any issues with the car since owning it other than expected maintenance, also not with higher-than-normal tire-wear (even with an occasionally heavy right foot...).
Car has leather, sat-nav, sunroof, DSG, sport steering wheel with controls, factory 18" wheels. Even now, the car's very nimble, snug seats and the direct steering feedback make it exceptionally great fun to drive! The folding rear seats make it roomier than expected (hello Ikea). The DSG shifts super-fast when accelerating, but displays lag during kick-down.Bad: old nav is slow, road noise, occasional rattle.
DSG in manual allows you to "lock" the current gear even under high revs, enabling quick acceleration out of corners and other fun things; other systems "intelligently" (read: "annoyingly") shift sooner or later. Heated sport seats are an ideal balance of snug and comfy. Driving is fun and go-kart like: steering is very responsive, accelerating is great fun, especially after spending $1000 on aftermarket ECU tuning by APR: 212 --> 252HP; 224 --> 303 lb-ft TQ; the torque makes the difference! Four doors and split-folding rear seats make the car very practical. Topping ti off, the price of this car easily makes it the best all-rounder in it's class.
Though only a few years old, the nav's software (or is it the hardware?) makes the system annoyingly slow and out-of-date in a Windows 95 kind of way: by today's standards, it works, but doesn't work very well. The front seats' back rests recline with the aid of a cumbersome adjuster wheel each; hope you have strong wrists. The occasional interior rattle from the hand-brake release knob and and the AC vents are annoying, but not worth repairing... making it not the least bit less of a nuisance.
In the end, these flaws don't make the GTI less of a great car. With a growing family, I am looking for something bigger now, but find it difficult to part from this fantastic little car.
Bought the car used in 2010. Selling it as soon as possible. I can't afford to keep sending it to the mechanic/fixing small things on the car. I've had two tail lights burn out, both the xenon headlights go out ($80 a piece), AC compressor, electrical problems, and now it seems the coil packs need to be replaced. It's a great car, and fun to drive, but I've had to drop it off almost every other month to get work done on it. Which wouldn't be as big a deal if the parts cost less than an arm+leg.
Ride, handling, speed (when it works).
Part quality. I've spent nearly the price of the car on the shop.