This little 2.0L hauls. There's nothing better than being able to keep up with the traffic in the fast lane, pull out and instantly whoosh up to speed without having to shift from 6th. It's not the quietest engine at idle a little on the ticky side, but that's high-pressure fuel injection for you. Otherwise this is the most linear, and smoothest turbo-four on the market. More than makes up for the power deficit in it's class with sheer refinement. As for the manual transmission, let's not even go there. Clutch takeup is light, linear if a little vague. The shifter itself is smooth, with positive engagement and an effortless movement. This gearbox rewards fingertip lightness. Rev-matching is almost instinct, as the car is geared perfectly. The shifter position itself is exemplary, with the knob bing positioned right where your hand lays.
Here's where this car really shines. Typical German restraint in the looks department with nothing too fancy or extroverted. Instead, VW decided to spend money where it counts--- quality. The GTI feels like a car double its price, which is unusual in a world where one could pay almost fifty grand to get something sporty, but with a cut-rate interiour. The illumination is perfect, with red on white dials allowing the cabin to exude class. Soft-touch materials are everywhere, and high-quality plastics abound where appropriate. The only scratchy plastics are near your feet or hidden out of sight in the hatch, where you really want something easy to clean and hard-wearing instead. The seats have the trademark tartan pattern and look aweseome, I'm regularly complemented on them and would opt for the cloth over the leather again and again.
I have MS, so comfortable seats are a must. This is the only car that I've been in where I could do a non-stop trip from Michigan to Washington DC in. No fatigue, no stopping for a stretch. It's that good, and VW throws in standard heated seats for the GTI. And they do mean "heated" seats, not "warmed" seats, not "take-the-edge-off" seats. Turn them on full and your bum will be roasting with in a few minutes.
It's a GTI, meaning that handling is it's forte. The steering can be a little artificial feeling, but it's communicative like nothing else. People as me why my steering wheel shakes a little when I go over bumps and it's because the car lets you feel the road. Every divot, every crack. Wonderful stuff.
I've never had any problems whatsoever. Regular oil changes with good-quality products, premium gas, the occasional bottle of techron and she's been good to go for almost 60k now.