This is a car that can truly do it all. I was looking for a car that could fulfill my demands for having a fun, performance oriented vehicle that could simultaneously deliver respectable gas mileage, have four doors, a great warranty and not break the bank, including full coverage insurance. Oh, did I mention my non-manual transmission driving wife had to be able to drive it too? Under these strict stipulations, the GTI is absolutely sublime. I bought mine for $20.5K and spend $100 a month on full coverage insurance. I regularly get over 30 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in town. Because of its sleeper status, I can drive it like I sat on a wasp, and a cop would be none the wiser.
Usable and broad torque band, eager and frisky chassis, a platform that is as rigid as a safe, interior fit and finish that are consistent with its German heritage, interior materials that have no business being in a sub $30k vehicle, steering wheel and dead pedal ergonomics are divine, balance.
The car is so great at everything it does, it makes you smile like a goon every time you get in it. May require a plastic surgeon to remove said perma-smile from face. Also, since this car is so over-achieving for its price, I doubt I'll be able to buy a better car until I can spend $40k on one.