The GTI is a great all-around sporty car. Good power, no turbo lag, good handling, nice interior with lots of room, good fuel economy, and it feels & drives like a more expensive vehicle. It may not have the outright power of a WRX, but the refinement and fun are a great combination for me. It handles great, is quiet going down the road, and I'm getting mileage in the mid-20's around town. It inspires confidence on back roads, and never feels like you are asking it to do something it doesn't want to.
Very fun to drive. Handles amazingly well on windy roads. Braking is good enough. Great engine noise. No turbo lag whatsoever. Has all the power you would ever need in a front wheel drive car. Love the horseshoe wheels, though I got the 17" ones since I parallel park so much (already have some marring). I had a 08 Rabbit before and all the little improvements are completely worth it. I'm nervous about the resale value and long term reliability being a VW, although I like this car so much I can't see parting with it while it still runs. Plan to have it for a long time. Very easy to park in the city being a small 2 door hatch.
Steering wheel w/ volume controls, standard heated plaid seats w/ lumbar support, fancy pedals including fancy dead pedal, 6 speed manual gearbox, horseshoe wheels, ESP, free maintenance for first 36000 miles. Love that VW still sells a hot hatch in the states unlike Ford and Honda. It's best anyway
Factory iPod control is abysmal. The default AUX in works much better, and it's free. Quick recline seats would be nice. Cruise control would be better on the steering wheel. It is somewhat clumsy to have it on the turn signal wand. Wish it still had the headlight washing system.