Love this car! So much fun! Many great things about it: acceleration, steering, cloth seats, gas mileage, small size, etc. I got the manual but would have been just as happy with the automatic. I own a 2009 & 2015 BMW 335, but I prefer to drive the GTI.
This car is a home-run. Turns like it’s on rails, very well planted on the road. Ride is stiff at times, especially on bad pavement... But it's the price you pay for the sporty suspension. Brakes are great. Safety features are great: forward collision mitigation is on point, as is blind spot monitor. Led lights are slick. Interior is luxurious : 8" touchscreen with Apple Carplay, leather seats, soft touch materials. Cabin noise levels are very low. DSG is bliss. Overall it's a very well finished car... Iteration number 7.5 so they have figured out the value proposition really well. Speedwise : it's got enough power to keep you interested, but it's no wild beast like the Golf R or a WRX STI. I'm very happy with the car and look forward to driving it every day. Got the SE because the Autobahn was not worth it to me. Barebones S with the manual is a sweet value proposition you should absolutely consider too. I drove other cars like the Subaru WRX, but went with the GTI due to better incentives and more civilized ride, plus that DSG. The Mazda3 is a good option too, but the GTI is one level above. If you live in an area with very bad pavement, don't get this car, otherwise you'll enjoy every minute. Love this car, gosh. BRB I went for a drive.
Traded my 2016 GTI S model in to get the 2018 SE version. I loved my 2016 model, had absolutely no problems with it at all. The longer warranty and new safety features on the 2018 model were the primary factors behind my decision to let go of the 2016 version. I really like the new LED headlights and tail lights, the larger brakes and the electronic limited slip differential bring a noticeable improvement over the my previous car. I wish that I had upgraded to the summer tires on both cars rather than stay with the stock versions. However I do like the ride and performance of the Hankooks that came on the 2018 car over the Bridgestones that came on the 2016 version. My 2016 car had the manual transmission which I loved but I went with the DSG transmission on 2018 which really is a better fit for me over the long run. While I'm not unhappy with the mpg I am seeing on the 2018 I got about 3-4 mpg better with the manual than I am getting with the DSG transmission. The low speed performance of the DSG is much better than I experienced with earlier versions on Jetta's that our family owned. I had been wanting a GTI for 25 years+ when I got the 2016 model and have not been disappointed with either car. Love taking it for drives on twisty mountain roads but frankly look forward to commuting to the office in it everyday as well.