This car is a blast. It puts a huge smile on my face every single time I drive it. The power delivery is smooth and effortless and the engine makes a satisfying growl. The DSG is fantastic. The ride strikes a great compromise between sportiness and comfort.
This car does everything. I can drive aggressively and have a fantastic time. I can haul 5 people, or 4 comfortably. I can haul a ton of stuff. I get great gas mileage.
The interior of this car is far more refined than any of its competitors. The materials look and feel upscale. It's just a nice place to be.
For the money, this car is darn near unbeatable. It is equally good as a daily driver and a weekend toy.
DSG- smooth automatic when you're stuck in traffic, or pretend to be a race car driver on a good road
Engine- great noise, wide powerband, instant results when you put your foot down
Plaid seats- they look awesome (the seats themselves are awesome to sit in as well)
the steering wheel is a gift from the gods
18" Detroit alloys- they look great
Quiet, refined cabin
There are no compromises necessary with this car. You can haul people and stuff, safely and economically and comfortably, it's easy to park and reasonable to insure, and it is legitimately fun to drive. I can't think of any other car (certainly not one in the same price range) that does all these things so well.
The GTI needs at least 40 more HP to stay competitive against cars like the Focus ST and Mazdaspeed 3, both of which offer more power for less money. Since this can be accomplished with a simple ECU reflash, I don't see why it would be that hard.
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