Nice car, when it works.
Not really a true GTI, more a soft-ish comfy luxury hatch with a bit of get up and go. Turbo engine is nice - not particularly powerful, but torquey where it counts. Car feels quicker than it is as a result.
Handling is OK, but nothing special. A bit soggy and with steering that feels like it isn't really connected to anything. Interior is pleasant to look at and on first glance seems expensive and nicely finished. There is no doubt that the Golf has more apparent "class" than any of its rivals.
However apparent this "class" is though, the car underneath it is really quite a poor effort. Mine's just had way too many problems to be remotely excusable in this day and age. I chopped in a Mondeo ST24 when I bought this car which suffered one minor fault in three years and 60,000 miles (engine pinking - fixed first time in 20 mins with a software upgrade). The Golf's first two months were good, but since then it's been one thing after another. The Mondeo was a better built and much better supported car - I can't believe it either. And VW's arrogant, expensive and incompetent dealers make Ford's merely indifferent ones look like saints.
I'm selling it before the warranty runs out next month. At least I'll benefit from the one undisputed benefit of the VW badge - residual values. On the evidence of this car, I can't see how these residuals are justified, or how they can continue for much longer.
Massively overrated car and brand, and I won't be buying another, no matter how much gloss and polish they put on the interiors, or how much "snob value" is attached to the badge.