Had my 4-door GTI for 2 months & about 2k miles. What really puts this car over the edge are the little things that make you realize the designers put extra thought into the car: the front doors have three different stops, allowing you to open them at up to a 90 degree angle; the foot-wells are lit at night; the ambient lighting around the center console at night; there is fabric lining the cubbys in the doors and the glovebox; the red stitching throughout the cabin. In many cars, these extra touches aren't there and you don't miss them. But this car was designed for driving pleasure by car people, not by the bean counters. At around $25k, this car is a bargain.
The 2.0L engine is perfectly suited to the car's character. It sounds refined and has a broad torque curve. It's enough power to keep things interesting and have a little fun. You won't win any races with this thing, but it puts you back in your seat a little bit. 30mpg in mixed driving is great.
The suspension is well damped and really fun to drive on the street at 7/10s. It corners flat and doesn't do anything weird in transitions.
The plaid seats are a hit with anyone who sees them for the first time.
Hatchback utility is always a plus.
Locking gas cap is a nice security feature.
Interior makes you feel like you are in a more expensive car.
Tons of head room.
I developed the wastegate rattle (rattle between 2-3k rpm) and will go in to the dealer to see if I can get it fixed. Would be nice if they would fix this from the factory.
An option for a true mechanical limited slip differential would be nice. Serious driving (on track or autocross) will overwhelm the e-diff.
I wish I could completely turn off the stability control.
The MPG calculator in the computer is about 10% optimistic.