The GTI Sport, 6 speed manual, is extremely docile yet responsive in city traffic and a beast on the back roads. Rarely have I driven a car on a daily basis that is as sorted out as this one. I have plenty of space for four adult passengers, great visibility, room for all my stuff, a delightful engine and transmission, strong brakes and solid, timeless styling. I could put down the rear seat, crawl into the back and curl up to sleep through night if I needed to. It is a solid vehicle that drives way above it's class. It's a breeze to park, reliable, and I will say it again, quick in real world conditions. The OEM tires leave something to be desired and I look forward to replacing them in due time for a set that is more tactile. VWs depreciate faster than Toyota and Honda. The only way to offset this is to drive the car for many years---which I plan to do because I do not see anything else on the market or coming to the market at its price range that comes close to the current GTI.
I'm a hot hatch aficionado. Over the years I've owned several, and when the time came to get out of the family hauler I knew I wanted another. I drove everything: Focus ST, Fiesta ST, Focus RS, Civic SI, Civic Type R, WRX, even hot-ish hatches like the new Cruze and Mazda3. For every criteria that I decided a particular car missed, the GTI landed it square in the middle. It's not as engaging as the Fords, or as sharp as the Honda, or as burly as the Subaru, but it's ALMOST as good, and by being so versatile and generally GOOD while not falling on its face in any one area it wins. I haven't had it long enough to comment on reliability, but CR is indicating the 2017 is Above Average, whereas the 2015 and 2016 models were merely average. Fuel economy is fine, averaging 25 MPG in mostly city driving. And the bottom line is I get excited every time I know I'm about to drive somewhere, even if it's just to slog it out in traffic. At some point I'll have the opportunity to let it its thing. I'll say the trick VAQ differential is a game changer - this car handles like no other FWD car I've ever driven. The DSG is also a bit of a revelation. I'm a manual guy, but my wife isn't comfortable driving one, so the DSG is again a great compromise. The kids' booster seats are also easy peasy, and there's still plenty of space for (minor) Costco runs. Just a great car. Full disclosure, I got my 2017 as the '18 cars were coming out, meaning I got crazy incentives - about $8,000 off sticker. I'd have a hard time paying the $33k they wanted, but it's a steal at $25k. Would buy again.
This car could be okay if they offered an AWD option. Sure you could get a "R" but that's over 40K and I just couldn't bring myself to spend 40K on a golf. As it is the GTI is a very frustrating car to drive. The lack of traction ruins the car. I hate owning this car and would not recommend it at all.
I own a truck to drive if there is a lot of snow out. It's fast! If I were to do it over I would probably go with the dsg just because having an automatic is nice. But the manual is amazing too. I paid 26k for mine with discounts and I feel like I got a really great value. I haven't had any mechanical issues but I will update if this changes