Drove this brand new vehicle off the lot and found that the transmission made a loud grind every time I attempted to shift into fifth gear. A new transmission was shipped overnight and replaced at no cost.
At 11,000 miles, the vehicle developed a shake at highway speeds that the dealership cannot seem to resolve (multiple attempts at balancing the wheels, correcting alignment, etc.). A third trip to the dealership is in the works for this problem.
Despite getting off on the wrong foot with my GTI, I love this car. Every company has the occasional miss; I'm lucky to have discovered mine at 134 miles instead of 134,000.
The interior just screams quality compared to other vehicles in this class. The switchgear is great, the cloth seats are comfortable and offer great side-bolstering for aggressive driving, and it's all very quiet at any speed - very unlike any other hatchback I've owned. There's a tremendous amount of room. VW emphasized rear-seat legroom over a large trunk area, and I've easily carried 4 adults in the car without any complaint; in fact, there's often a lot of surprise at how much space is available. I'm told it's equal in rear passenger space to a Tahoe, and it feels like it.
The exterior is aggressive but understated. It gets attention constantly without looking tacky.
With respect to performance, it's a remarkably quick car. The turbo comes on low, around 2,000 RPM, and as a result you can put the pedal down in almost any gear and get a satisfying surge of power. There's no need to dance on the clutch, just instant response. When you want to drive on the edge and have a little fun, it's ready to go. VW underrates the actual output of the 2.0T, and it responds well to modifications. It's cheap and easy to push the car north of 250 HP.
I average 31 MPG and have gotten as high as 34.4 MPG sustained in long highway trip (well in excess of what the EPA rates this car, oddly enough).
The transmission feels great, clutch pickup is excellent, it shifts easily and securely, and the powertrain in general is well-balanced. There is no torque steer.
Suspension can feel a little rough on bumpy highways but I've never found myself wishing for a softer car. Cornering is great, grip is tenacious for the price tag, and the car stays predictable once you're out of friction. It's also surprisingly capable of getting around in snow when needed.
I'd strongly recommend this car; the Focus ST may be quicker at the same price and the BRZ/FRS may offer some more fun on a track, but neither vehicle has the all-around excellence of the GTI as a daily driver. Spend $600 tuning it and you get all the speed of its competitors with the benefit of an awesome interior and classier looks.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th August, 2013