This car is excellent. It is for drivers who want to be involved with their driving. It can be driven comfortably by people who do not want to be involved. It works well as a family car, as I often drive with my wife and infant daughter. It has excellent storage and excellent fuel economy for its class. Its interior is by far best-in-class and is comparable to a premium car's.
I compared the car with a neighbor's BMW 3, and found the cars fairly comparably equipped. Both had leather seats and satellite radio. The BMW had 230 hp, where the GTI had 200. The GTI had Xenon headlamps and 18" wheels where the BMW had halogens and 17" wheels. The BMW had a slightly larger interior, with less head room and far less cargo capacity. I preferred the BMW's exterior, but I liked the GTI's interior better. The GTI has a better warranty and a similar depreciation forecast as the BMW.
To note, the BMW cost about $37,000, where the GTI cost about $28,000.
To speak about it in terms of its performance -- there are plenty of faster cars, even a couple in its segment. However, I have never found an instance where I felt it was underpowered. In fact, quite the opposite. The relatively flat power-curve of the motor means that at low RPMs, the motor still produces a sizeable chunk of the peak power. In layman's terms, this characteristic makes the car easier to drive, with less shifting.
My wife often tells me she is far more confident than before on the highway. She says the extra power and high-speed stability make her feel very secure.
Speaking of power, the car is certainly more powerful than its sticker of 200hp. Judging by unscientific tests performed by the after-market community, the car has closer to 230. Additionally, while on the topic of the after-market, a very simple engine-controller reprogramming (which costs about $500 and takes about five minutes to complete) will increase power to about 270hp.
So, all in all, if you enjoy driving cars, but want to use your car for things other than driving also, this one is an excellent value. It is luxurious and sporty to a very high degree, and maintains a very reasonable price when both are taken into consideration.