I have owned a number of GTIs, but have to say this is probably the best one ever. The sport is a stand alone model that includes the performance pack, Nogaro alloys (Only on Sport model), bi-xenon/LED lighting, keyless entry/ignition, over the base S model. Plus, Apple play is a great feature negating the need for navigation. For me, and I am sure other enthusiasts agree that this is the perfect model - why? The new MQB platform GTI is a an incredibly well-developed car that drives and handles superbly. The Sport has all the essentials needed without the superfluous toys added in the SE and Autobahn models - this is the enthusiasts GTI. The addition of the Performance packs adds some extra horsepower, but the real bonus of the package is the mechanical limited slip differential which takes cornering on a front-drive car to a new level, and the stopping power of the R brake package. The beauty of the GTI has always been the fact that it is such a versatile and well-behaved car when you want it to be, but when you want to push it to it limits it is in an even happier mode. I love the fact that this car is so capable in so many areas - it may well be the perfect car!
The car is only a month old for me but I absolutely love driving it. I commute 100 miles a day and this car makes it much less of a chore. Acceleration on the highway is amazing and the nimble handling makes it a blast to drive around town. The only knock that I would give it is that I am struggling to get close to the advertised MPG. That might be attributed to a heavy foot though. :-)
The Sport trim offers you the best value in your GTI I feel. It is almost like the Autobahn compared to the SE, just spend the $1500 or so more, you won't regret it. I got a great deal on my GTI Sport. I will get the negatives out of the way now since the list is still really short after 1 month of ownership. There are no fog lamps on this trim level. This was quite troublsome the other night in a white-out snow. THe road holding wasn't the issue, visibility was, and fog lamps would've been really nice to have. You get the lighting package, however, which gives you the lovely and aggressive looking xenon headlights and LED DRL lights. Ties the front together nicely, every GTI should have these. The adaptive lighting when turning at slower speeds is also much better than in was on my 2012 Golf TDI. Quicker to respond, quicker to turn off, and better at throwing the light. Second negative, rides a bit harsh I feel for normal driving, the last generation of GTI was a bit more comfy in a straight line or during casual driving, however, it also didn't turn like the Mk7. This car's new MQB platform from Audi is a MAJOR improvement in the Golf/GTI lineup, and handling is bliss in a corner when you throw it around a bit. Sharp, direct, and almost like an extension of your arms when you hold at 3 & 9'o clocks. Also, you could teach someone with getting comfortable with a manual transmission, or at least the principles of it. Super easy clutch, almost too easy, I plan to do some aftermarket work in there anyways but for the masses, it is decent. I have had one defect so far, a piece of cloth that forms the backing of the rear armrest fell off, and the armrest is back-ordered, minor detail. Can't even see it unless you look in from the rear. I am not concerned with it right now. The positives go on and on and on. But, I will let you find out for yourself!
My Autobahn: leather/heat/power seat, DCC, Nav, and ACC/Blind Spot/Cross Traffic safety features. Got an amazing year-end deal that I could not pass, so I will return my VW TDI earlier than plan. 1k miles total so far in 2 weeks. During past GTI test drives I always thought the ride was a bit stiff, so I decided to get the Autobahn with DCC. That way, I can turn the suspension to a softer mode ("comfort") when needed. Funny, after 2 weeks, I now prefer "sport" mode over regular "normal" or "comfort" mode. The GTI MK7 engine is very smooth as it happily rev up to its red line. Combined with its lightweight, the GTI can quickly and easily pass other cars at highway speed. You can get speeding ticket(s) if you are not careful with this car as it goes from 60 to 80 mph in no time. It makes me wonder what APR stage 1 or 2 mod will turn this car into ? As a manual trans driver in the past, I found the DSG pretty amazing on any street at any speed. I don't understand all of GTI DSG complaints out there. Nobody can shift the transmission as fast and smooth, aggressive when needed, than this smartly engineered DSG. The DSG in my 2013 TDI is good, this one is GREAT. As advertised, GTI returns 29 mpg combined. I am very happy with its safety features, they are excellent and work as designed. The bad news ? quality control is poor for a $36k list car. Back window does not roll up/down, driver door ambient light does not work, back seat bench still have wrapping plastic protrude out from its bottom, and worse, the infotainment system with Nav broke (known issue) after three days - new unit is in ordered. Even though CR predicts below reliability, I'd expected better quality control after almost 2 year of Golf/GTI production in Mexico, very disappointed. My GTI issues are being fixed under warranty. I gave VW GTI 5 stars mostly due to its interior luxury feel (very close to Audi, BMW or Mercedes level), its Ultimate Driving Machine characteristics, and its steep year-end discount. Aside from the quality control annoyances, I have my grin every day driving this GTI.