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 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.
My Gti was the perfect car for me. I am a college student and I am more than likely always in a rush. The Gti has a great responsive clutch and the ability to grip the road better than most bmw's along side with the performance the maintenance was extremely high than most its competitives but I rarely had to take it to the shop. I drove the car from California to Georgia with no problems or issues the ride was comfortable and enjoyableI've had it for two years and the quality was good compared to others of that same year. I had little problems with the electronics like the iPod connector and the windows.
Xenon lights, Super responsive clutch, and great handling.
Better iPod hookup and power seats. Heavy muffler sound similar to the Honda Si or Nissan Z
I leased this car over 48months... it was my first new car! When I left the dealership I had a smile ear to ear. It was 2 months later that the problems started to pop up. At first it was a problem with the drivers seat. A couple of weeks later the check engine light came on (took two years for this to be fixed). In the 46 months I've had this car, it's been in the shop 82 times for a total of 133days. That is over 10% downtime. I wish I had bought this car so I could have gotten out of it earlier. I have promised VW customer service that I will never drive a VW, Audi or Porsche because of my experiences with this piece of crap GTI.
My GTI has been with me for two years and 17K miles, and the experience has been positive. This is the original "hot hatch", the benchmark for this class. If you're looking for outright performance, go for a Mazdaspeed 3. But if you're seeking European character and sophistication, the choice is clear. The GTI goes about its business in a most German way. Feels solid as a bank vault when you get in and shut the door. On the interstate, it's unflappable and deceptively fast, so invest in a good radar detector. This model has ceased production, as the sixth-generation is already out and headed to the US in the fall of 2010. There should be many pre-owned examples to choose from.
Engine sounds great under full throttle. GTI built in Germany, not Mexico as previous model. Xenon headlamps standard. High quality exterior paint finish. Beefy steering wheel you want to caress. Full-size spare tire. Elegant enough for the country club valet, if the occasion were to arise.
Some interior rattles audible on bumpy roads. My previous Hyundai Elantra had a superior stereo. 200hp is adequate, but the competition has surpassed that figure. Sirius available only in package with moonroof. Options could bloat the price to nearly $30K. Curb weight of 3200lb sometimes felt.