I have owned this car since new and took delivery in Feb 09. I have had the computer re-flashed to make more power, and I think this is how the car should have come from the factory. It is a claimed 300 lb/ft and 250 hp. The torque is what is great about this car. Just push the pedal and it goes! No drama, just thrust. I average about 29 MPG overall through mixed driving.
Issues: My brake pads in the front did not engage the rotor fully, replaced bythe dealer and now they're great. Random rattles in the dash and rear seat area.
The transmission occasionally jerks when pulling away from a stop. No reliability issues and these have been very minor for an overall good car
Engine torque, fuel economy, cargo capability
A taller 6th gear would really improve hwy driving. Milage drops off sharply after 70 mph due to the high speed of the engine at cruise speeds. Make the 6th gear taller by about 15% and this would be a perfect car.
My suspension damper rates are somewhat harsh over slow-speed sharp edged bumps. I drove a 2011 GTI and it is much better.
I've owned a lot of cars, but none have captured my heart like my Red GTI, with the six-speed manual. Have had it for 5 months, and put on 9,000 miles, with not a single issue, other than too much fun. I have to keep myself from making up reasons to run errands. Versatile, balanced, beautiful, compact but solid, easy to park, it flies like a mother, and is equally composed when cruising in a 25 mph zone. More fun to drive than my old AUDI A4, comparable to the 3-series we had. I'm not sure I'll ever want to own another car than a GTI.
I thought it was funny what reviewers said about the steering wheel, until I actually drove this car, and then I realized what they were talking about. I love the way it looks--the honeycomb grill, the blade wheels, it's like a shrunken down X3. The clutch and gearbox are remarkably forgiving for a car of such a sporty nature. It's almost impossible to make a bad throw.
Nitpicks: because of the slope of the doors, when it's raining, the windows have to be up, or water gets in. The audio could be a little better, but then again, the overall experience of driving this car is so pleasurable, I can hardly complain. I've been spoiled by my Mark Levinsohn Lexus audio.
First let me say this car is a blast to drive. Economical on gas, although it requires premium. Almost Audi-like quality for a much lower price. The most entertaining car I have ever had. I looked forward to driving it. The hatchback versatility was great. Now the bad: the first battery lasted about a year and gave out in the middle of a road trip. CEL came on another trip for an intake sensor. At 50k miles the intake manifold had to be placed. At 55K the mass airflow sensor went. Dealership had poor service. I got the car back from them and sold it. I don't have time to sit in a VW dealership or be without a car for weeks at a time. Hated to see it go, though.
Awesome drive, hatchback versatility, gas mileage, the sound it makes under acceleration, fat steering wheel felt great, front seat comfort outstanding.
Reliability. I had been warned about VW reliability but took the plunge anyway. Not sure if I just got a bad car or what, but I got the GTI bug out of my system.
I purchased this car and it seems I got unlucky with the buy vs other GTI owners who have never had any issues with the car. It has been one year, and already I have had about 3 major repairs done to the car. The car is great to drive, very fun, but I guess in my case very problematic and have been to the dealer with repairs in the last year over 7 times. From electrical issues, to an intake manifold being cracked from bad mold casting, to air conditioning falling apart and need replacement. However, I do recommend you purchase an extended warranty and VW has completed all repairs, but as far as satisfaction with the car. I am VERY VERY displeased and dissatisfied.
Extremely fun to drive, torque and safe
I suggest, getting an extended warranty and cross your fingers you don't get a bad car from the bunch.