Leased S with performance package. Car is solid and great as every day driver. Always has power when you need it. Torque in every gear hard to believe. Very thoughtful touches in entertainment and information available in trip computer. End if my 3 year less, nothing but routine maintenance and a set of wiper blades
TL;DR: Feels properly sporty and responsive, with no compromises. It's a typically perfectly executed German sports car. Punches well above its pay grade and makes neat farting noises. Jeremy Clarkson has one. FULL: I bought my 2016 S new with no options other than the DSG gearbox (shiftable automatic) for $21,999 last year. It was a year-end sale, so you can definitely be pretty spoiled for price as far as the base models go. Some cons: I quickly found that the base headlights weren't great, and upgraded to an aftermarket "lighting package style" headlight kit. It has the same red stripe and U-shaped daytime lights. I went for them mainly so that I could get projector low beams and install a good HID kit. The improvement was day and night, and is a perfect alternative to shelling out the $1000 for the lighting package. Of course, if the parts go wrong, you won't have the dealers to help you out, so be aware that the $500 you save comes with that caveat. The front seats (tartan plaid cloth) are really comfy for short drives, but on two-plus hour drives, my bum starts to ache slightly. The ride is also slightly harsh, but is MUCH more supple than the competition. If you have a choice of tires, I wouldn't go with the Pirelli P7 Cinturato set if you're easily bothered by tire groan. The rear seats would be cramped for three adults, but definitely seat two comfortably. PROS: Lots to say here. By far the best handling I've ever had. It shoves its shoulder into corners like a true 80's sports car, and corners pretty flat. The normal brakes can take some significantly heavy braking, but wouldn't be track-worthy by any means. On normal back road blasts, you really don't get brake fade at all, and usually I take an empty 110 mile route with a mix of corners and short straights. It doesn't really go anywhere so I usually have it to myself. On off-camber corners, you get some loss of grip and understeer, which is especially noticeable without the performance package, but in flat and banked corners, the car uses the brakes to pull the nose closer into the apex, so you do get really amazing grip. Hairpins are an absolute joy, especially with a dash of liftoff oversteer, combined with the immense low-end torque that slingshots you out of the corners. The turbocharger is audible from the interior, especially when you stray over 2500 RPM. The turbo lag is a little noticeable, but is really not a big deal, because you have the power to get through it. Noise peaks at around 3500 RPM, which is also when you start to hear pops and farts from the exhaust. The engine itself is an absolute peach, and combined with the great chassis and fantastic MQB platform makes the GTI a great car for purists and tuners alike. The DSG is sort of a hit or miss, honestly. I love it because I pretty much always take it in manual mode and the shifts are insanely quick, but in auto, it's really clunky at low speeds, which is a common property of dual-clutch gearboxes. You'll get a little lurching and jerking when the gearbox isn't sure whether or not to disengage the clutches, which is why manual mode is usually better for communicating with the car. Also beware that the reliability of DSG's is relatively unproven as of now, so be wary of issues. The exterior styling is a bit reserved compared to its competition, but is much sportier than the Mk. 6 GTI, without being brash or "yobbish." It's a car you can drive up to the valet without judgment and also excite your inner child when you catch a glimpse of its reflection. It's a car that doesn't get old to stare at. The interior is simply fantastic. The clark plaid seats cup you nicely with side bolstering in the back and legs, lumbar support is available, and thigh support is good for taller drivers. The steering wheel feels amazing and looks great. It has buttons on it, but not so many that it's overwhelming. The flat bottom is a great touch, and the size is perfect for fast back road driving and motorway cruising alike. The paddle shifters are well-placed and satisfying to use, but are pretty modest. I prefer to switch gears with the sequential style on the gear shifter itself. It's just that much more satisfying and doesn't move around when the wheel turns. Equipment is pretty simple, but you certainly don't feel like it's missing anything--It doesn't feel cheap. If you slapped a BMW or Audi badge on the wheel, I'd be fooled. I absolutely love the abundance of cubbies. The diver's seat has a small cubby underneath to hide your french fries from a hungry significant other, and many more little hidey holes for clutter as well. There are great styling touches on the doors and sills that tell you that you're in a genuinely sporty car, but you sacrifice nothing in the way of visibility. The infotainment is simple and lacks some bells and whistles, but is easy to master. Basically, to end, when I get home, my face aches from the smiles and G-forces that come with driving this brilliant machine.
This car continues to impress me! I have the SE with the Performance Package and Lighting Package and 6 Speed manual and it was love at first test drive. My only hesitation was buying another VW product-I had three VW's starting with a Jetta GT back in 1996, a '99 New Jetta, and a 2002 Passat, which were ALL problematic. But that was then, and this is now. After putting over 13K HARD miles on the car (a couple of cross-Texas and cross-country jaunts), as well as in constant stop and go traffic here in Houston, I can honestly say I have had ZERO issues. No interior trim pieces breaking off, no squeaks and rattles, and no engine issues. The EPC light did come on once when I started up the car. I shut the car off, then cut it on again, and proceeded to start a 250-mile road trip right after, and the issue never resurfaced. The Apple CarPlay works flawlessly, and there are even cool performance monitors (like measuring G-forces, etc, and a program that tells you how to increase your fuel economy-it even grades you on your progress. And of course, the handling, braking, and engine power are top notch. This car keeps growing on me, and my VW dealership experience (both in Austin and in Houston) have both been top notch, with far better service than I had with my Mercedes or Audi. My only complaint is that the rims are easy to scratch on the curb if you are a terrible at parallel parking like myself LOL.
I've now owned my GTI for 6 months. The car is amazing on several levels and winter is finally gone so I've been able to get it out on some winding roads, where the GTI shines. It corners fairly flat and is easy to place in turns and I can usually hit the apex and power out with plenty of get up snd go. I don't push speed on highways because that really isn't the GTI's reason foe existence. It is a great road car and the more interesting the road, the more fun the GTI becomes. But, it also a great daily driver, the leather seats are comfortable, very supportive, and adjustable to pretty much any frame. It has been one of my top 5 cars and I've owned a Porsche, several BMWs - including a M3, Acuras, Infinitis, and several other 2 seaters. The GTI gives you the driving pleasure of those 2 seaters but also practicality of rear seats and great storage room. I'll be keeping the GTI for a long while.