I've had the GTI for three months now and I can honestly say it's a blast to drive, and with four doors, it's very practical as well. This is my first manual transmission car in 18 years and I'm really enjoying shifting on my own again. The car has plenty of power and very little turbo lag. Build quality is excellent and I've had no issues with reliability. I was tempted to get a BMW 335i, but in Northern Virginia where I live it seems that every other car is a BMW 3 series so the GTI is a nice change and the price is extremely reasonable for what you get.
Form fitting seats combined with a manual transmission makes you really feel in control.
I owned my 2007 VW GTI for about 6 months and it's been in for repairs well over 2 months in total. The information center was defective. It took over a week to replace. Most serious problem could be related to the engine, transmission, turbo - don't yet know the source. The dealer can't identify the problem and VW tech support has been useless. Possibly related to heat, since it occurs most often when the temperature is high. As you step on the gas the car drops out of gear and will not respond. It feels like you are slamming on the brakes, according to my friend who was driving with me during one of these "seizures". This is a very serious safety issue. Car was bought back by the dealer.
It can really move, when it is running properly. A blast to drive.
Find the source of the "seizure" problem and fix it for good. If that were to happen, I would gladly buy another one!
Sure there are better-looking and sportier cars, but none can match the GTIs combination of good looks, great interiors, very sporty driving and great pricing. I have the manual base car, and the list of "stuff" that is standard is amazing: 10-speaker(!) kicker Monsoon audio, Bi-Xenon headlamps, Driver Information Display (with 2 awesome trip computers), auto up/down on all windows, heated power mirrors, lots of user-programmable features, steering wheel controls, sports front seats, power outlet in trunk, great "mood" lighting at night, map lights all around - list just goes on. I love the interior lighting at night. After this car, other non-luxury cars' interiors seem cheap.
Looks, interiors, sportiness, acceleration, fuel efficiency (up to 33-36 mpg sometimes), cockpit lighting at night, superb quality materials all around. Supremely spacious and comfortable for my 6'1" frame, unlike other sporty cars.
The headlight switch should have a position for switching on just the parking lights. Apparently the European models have this 3-position switch (Off, Parking lights, Headlights), so why not bring it across the pond?