I am a big fan of the Ford C1 platform. Prior to my C30, I owned an 04 Mazda 3s; I loved it. But as much as I did, it pales in comparison to the C30. It is more comfortable and more solid with a more powerful and responsive engine. Other than the wind noise coming from the side mirrors, the cockpit is quiet-isolating the road noise and allowing the driver to hear that throaty growl when the foot presses to the floor. The automatic transmission is smooth- though I've only used the manual shift feature once. The only problem here is that 227 hp driving front wheels can sometimes make the tires slip- with heavy acceleration like pulling out into traffic. The GTI doesn't have this issue.
The engine is exceptional, as is the balance between the ride and the handling. The R-design is sportier, but I found the ride on the 18' wheels too choppy. I love the simple, industrial design: uncluttered and clean. I think it's called lagam in Swedish: Everything you need and nothing you don't.
Move the power to the back wheels or mount stickier tires to the front. The slippage I mentioned above can be a bit disconcerting.
† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.