We love this car.
As empty-nesters, in 2012 we decided it was time to trade in the Gr. Caravan, & get something smaller. However, my wife said that whatever we got had to have "zip" (hooray). I quickly boiled the list down to a Mazdaspeed3 & a GTI. We had a bad experience with a Protege, so my wife didn't want another Mazda. Unlike other hatchbacks, the GTI's roof didn't slope down at the back & reduce the height of the back window (& interior space); my wife liked that. Also, I'm 6' - 2"; the GTI has lots of headroom, even with the sunroof.
Our GTI is black with the DSG tranny & all av. factory options; I would've preferred grey with plaid seats, but we couldn't find a grey one, leather seats came as part of one of the options package (which has since been corrected) and the price of this one was just too good to pass up.
German engineering really is not to be discounted, & the interior fit & finish is faultless. This car also has the best steering wheel this side of an Audi R8 (if it were only heated, it'd be perfect). The seats look great, and feel better than that. One other seemingly small thing that I really like is the digital display of the cruise setting.
About 6 months before we got the GTI, the lease ended on our '08 BMW 535i; in my view, the GTI has similar interior room, almost the same hp/pound rating of the Bimmer, and is far more fun to drive; the fun/gallon figure is pretty impressive. The Bimmer was arguably a mistake, but it did introduce me to the wonders of German engineering, it did scratch a long-suffering itch, and what's a mid-life crisis without a mid-life crisis car? We might be a bit unique, though, in that a GTI is not exactly what a retired couple are usually seen driving, but it sure is a hoot to drive, and is a lot more practical than a Mustang convertible .... or a Camry. The only gripe is that it is a bit noisy at speed, but sometimes you gotta make allowances. I can easily see us keeping this car for quite a few more years.