I don't know who wrote the Edmunds review of the 2008 GTI but they are badly mistaken in describing the Honda Civic Si and- good gracious- the Mini Cooper S as better driving cars than the GTI. I test drove both those cars on multiple occasions along with a number of others and the GTI was by far the best vehicle in every category. The Mini Cooper in particular was disappointing- noisy, tinny sounding and rough riding. The Si has nowhere near the smooth acceleration and shifting of the GTI. It's by far the 'King of the hot hatches.'
Leased it two years ago this month. Now has almost 25K on it. The only problem so far was a fuel sending unit which kept indicating car was out of fuel. Dealer fixed it and no further problems. Car drives great, I average 27-28 MPG in a commute that is equal parts highway and city driving. I have owned MANY MANY VWs over the years, and some have been very problematic. Not this one. I plan to buy it at the end of the lease due to its reliability, economy and performance. Once it's mine I will chip it and replace the OEM wheels & tires to improve the performance ever more.
I purchased my 2008 GTI rather than a Mustang. I wanted a sporty, fast car. My decision was made primarily due to increasing gas prices. This wasn't solved since the car runs best using premium fuel anyway. While the car was extremely fun to drive, the ride is stiff but should be expected. Maintenance costs are high as are costs for replacement items such as tires. At 10k miles it needed a 4 wheel alignment. I always drove the car easy, no curb hopping. Sold car at 22k miles due to notification from VW USA of possible problems with the DSG transmissions. Buy the car if you have money to burn on upkeep and maintenance. I went back to Toyotas, no more headaches.
Handling, acceleration, stereo system
Overall mechanical quality needs to show improvement
After 8 months I am still enjoying this car. It responds to all my driving moods. Whether I want to poke along and enjoy the scenery or zip down a winding road, the GTI is a ready companion. Gas mileage has improved to 27 mpg (per the computer display). I alternate between regular and premium gas and have not noticed a reduction in performance. I have had no mechanical issues and the car runs great.
heated seats, great looks, performance/practicality balance.
This is my first VW I have ever owned and I couldn't be more happy with it. The plaid seats look very cool in person but in picture I thought they looked pretty ugly. Horrible gas mileage when using the paddle shifters as all you want to do is drive like a maniac :). I average 24 mpg when I keep it in drive. The sunglasses holder up near the sunroof controls kept popping open during the summer if I had glasses in it. After a while I couldn't keep it closed even if I took the glasses out. Finally after weeks of twisting things in different directions it stays up. Back seats are roomy according to my coworkers but you have to pull up the front seats for there legs.
Sound of engine when I accelerate. Engine is very responsive. Instant acceleration when wanting to pass someone on the highway. Love having the sunroof open as it makes driving around at night that much more fun. Interior is very Nice compared to the 06 civic I use to have.
Ipod adapter in center console armrest leaves little room for anything else. I do like the convenience of it being there instead of the glove box though. Gas mileage - I have never gotten above 24 mph even when it has mostly been highway miles. Fix sunglasses holder.