The car is a driver's car, a fun car to drive. The ride is somewhat dependent upon the type of tires that are on the GTI from the manufacturer. We have Hankook all season tires which are a harder rubber compound and a nosier tire so the ride is a bit nosy and you feel the bumps a bit more. But that's to be expected with a performance car and this car DOES perform. The interior looks like that of a luxury car and is much more than one can expect for a car in class. Fit and finish is excellent and the quality of the leather and other materials is excellent and rather plush as well. It looks like VW has finally turned the corner after "diesel gate" and brought a quality and impressive car to the market. If this is things to come for VW, I believe they'll be back in front as a premier auto manufacturer.2
I was skeptical about buying a VW - I had set on one of the following: Mazda 3, Honda Civic, or a Ford Focus. Since I was out shopping anyway, I decided to check out the GTI; it was love at first acceleration. This car is awesome - you can select Eco mode, drive it responsibly, and get 39mpg; or you can select Sport mode, let the turbo do its thing, and have a lot of fun. I like small cars; this one fits the bill while taking 4 adults around very comfortably. The interior is nice, instruments are well positioned, the seats are snug and firm (as you would expect from a sport car), and the driving position commanding. I got the standard speakers, and I'm happy with them. The dual clutch transmission is something out of this world - it switches gears quickly and seamlessly. All in all, this is a fine specimen of German engineering at its best.
The main reasons I went with this trim over the SE was to gain Adaptive Cruise control and to keep the Fender stereo, which is only available on the Autobahn in 2018. The implementation of Android Auto is probably my favorite feature of this car - I don't even use the built-in navigation or satellite radio. The adaptive cruise and other driving aids are well done, with the exception of Lane keeping assist, which, if left to its own devices, wanders from side-to-side in the lane like a drunk driver. Other nice to haves include adaptive dampers, automatic climate control, a more comfortable 12-way adjustable driver's seat, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and self-parking. (I was skeptical about the utility of that last one, but it works well and assures I don't get "curb rash" when parallel parking.) Gripes are few: From prior experience with my 2015 model, I know that I'll have to replace the standard Bridgestone Potenza RE97s at around 20,000 miles, as they start to have crappy wet traction at that point. Also, there were a couple of build issues, including a sunroof rattle and a minor trim piece that fell off, which are being addressed by the dealer. Overall, I'm very happy with the decision to go with the Autobahn over the SE and would recommend it to anyone who can afford the additional coin.
Bought the vehicle 3 weeks ago. The main reason for the choice is to have a smaller sized car with "peppy / sporty" driving characteristics for the city. The GTI is a fun little car and with the hatchback design still easy to use for storing some bulky items (55" TV in box fit perfect). Particular for city (San Fran) parking it is perfect. I like the acceleration and sportiness. The suspension is on the stiff side and potholes are for sure felt thru the body. Overall very good visibility and easy to get in and out too. 4 people fit nicely into the car. If anyone looks for a sporty compact vehicle I recommend the Golf GTI