I have the 2010 2.5L 3-door gas version and it is excellent. It is very practical, spacious, and fast. I got mine used for 6,500 less with no mechanical defects whatsoever. Even with only 3 doors, there is still plenty of space in the back for passengers.
It does come standard with heated seats, AC, electric door mirrors, electric windows, two 12v charging slots, and an AUX IN port for your music playing device. The radio is very good and weather resistant. Build quality is very good. Nothing feels cheap or out of place.
Even though mine has only 170 horsepower, it can still overtake pretty much anyone and anything on the road. Acceleration is very quick and the noise isn't too loud.
This is my third VW. I traded a 2005 Hyundai Elantra, which was a competent car, but having had a 1969 Beetle and a 1997 Jetta before, I felt called back into the VW fold, so to speak. The only car in the class that comes close to offering the same lively character in driving is the Mazda 3, but it lacks the refinement in ride quality. Having had an 03 Mazda Pr5 and the aforementioned Hyundai in between VWs, it's odd seeing that the revs are so low as I'm driving. The ummph comes in low. I'm seeing 25/26 in the city and 31/32 on the highway. Build quality appears impeccable and the material quality is on par with MB, BMW, and, most obviously, Audis in which I've ridden or driven.
My dad's first car was a 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI that he still drives and it still runs great, so I knew exactly what I wanted when I was looking for my first car (GTI was my first choice, but a little pricey :/). First time manual driver, but the car is so forgiving and so fun once I figured it out. I test drove the Fit, Fiesta, Sonata, Focus, Nissan Versa, and Fusion. No other car in this price range even came close. You just can't beat the styling and drive of a German car. Has tons of room for the rear seats, drives solidly and quietly at 80+ on the highway, and also is really maneuverable in city traffic. I'm getting about 33 mpg driving on highways about 70% of the time.
I absolutely love this car. What a blast to drive, and it's quite practical for carrying passengers and cargo too! Styling is great IMO inside and out, but I wish there were more color options for the interior besides black. Still, the quality of the interior is unmatched in this price range. It feels like I'm driving something much more expensive which brings me to my next point. Yes, this car may have a starting price above other rivals, but it also comes with more standard features. An equivalently featured civic will run you almost as much money. This car is super solid and handles great. Even with it's sporty intentions, the ride is comfortable and compliant. I Love My Golf!