I have not driven a car that gives you so much for the price. It's fantastic the way the motor and transmission work together. The DSG is the best auto-manual there is. The car feels very refined and stays relatively quiet on the road. The seats are awesome and I love the steering wheel. Loaded with features that are usually offered on luxury cars. Turbo lag is there low in the RPM range, but after driving a couple of weeks it is easy to get used to. The 4-door version has all the room I need. Carries 4 people comfortably, and my kid's car seat fits great. Have had no reliability issues. All around this is one of the best cars money can buy. Could not be happier with my purchase.
I'm coming up on my 3 yr ann. with my GTI and have only very few / minor complaints (see below) to go with my many miles of spirited driving. Even though torque steer is non-existent, I've decided I just don't like FWD cars - the balance is just not there, especially at turn-in. Luckily for VW (and me!), from what I've read, my wants / needs are all met with the 2012 GTI-R / Golf-R / R20.
This is a car that can truly do it all. I was looking for a car that could fulfill my demands for having a fun, performance oriented vehicle that could simultaneously deliver respectable gas mileage, have four doors, a great warranty and not break the bank, including full coverage insurance. Oh, did I mention my non-manual transmission driving wife had to be able to drive it too? Under these strict stipulations, the GTI is absolutely sublime. I bought mine for $20.5K and spend $100 a month on full coverage insurance. I regularly get over 30 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in town. Because of its sleeper status, I can drive it like I sat on a wasp, and a cop would be none the wiser.
4dr Hatchback w/Prod. End 05/08 (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
This car has phenomenal performance, but man does it have things go wrong with it. A few things you should know of you buy this car. You're going to replace the coil packs on this car every 30-40K miles and when the first one goes, replace them all. In fact, carry a spare in your car at all times along with a code reader. When you get a misfire, read the code, find out which cylinder it is and replace it yourself. Here is a list of all the things I've had to replace since I bought the car with 21K miles on it (it has 54K now): 4 coil packs, 4 spark plugs, 1 thermostat, 1 vacuum pump, 1 intake line, 1 headlight bulb and both headlight auto-leveling motors. I haven't even had to replace the brakes yet... Think about that. All in, I've spent about $4,000 in repairs on this car. No one should go through this many repairs for a car that has less than 55K miles. In the last 9 months I've spent half of those dollars on repairs for parts that just brake. I love this car, but if/when I get another, I'm leasing it. I'll never buy a Volkswagen again. A real shame too, because the fun factor is a 10. Reliability factor is a 3.
I don't know who wrote the Edmunds review of the 2008 GTI but they are badly mistaken in describing the Honda Civic Si and- good gracious- the Mini Cooper S as better driving cars than the GTI. I test drove both those cars on multiple occasions along with a number of others and the GTI was by far the best vehicle in every category. The Mini Cooper in particular was disappointing- noisy, tinny sounding and rough riding. The Si has nowhere near the smooth acceleration and shifting of the GTI. It's by far the 'King of the hot hatches.'
I have had the car for over 4 years now and my only significant repair was replacing the pcv valve. Pretty impressive.