Reverend Dave's Rally Report #2:
One of the surprises of the day was the fact that the VW GTI really lived up to the all the hype. It really is fast. It really can handle a track day in stock form. And it thoroughly squashed the Civic Si just like my comrades at mph said a few months back.
One ever present comment I've heard about the GTI is how heavy it is(3300 lbs), like it's this hugely negative characteristic. But on the track it was nimble and planted. Two traits I preferred to the Si scaring the crap out of me around the corners with the rubber threatening to lift off the surface at any time. I also took the DSG equipped GTI with the paddle shifters and LOVED it. While it wasn't like the M5, the GTI's paddle reaction time was hardly noticeable and you could downshift hard without any nanny monitors taking over. Niiiiiiiice.
At high speeds the GTI still sounds like it's moving at normal highway rates. The Civic Si let's you know when you hit triple digits by screaming wildly while wind noise suddenly becomes pronounced. The GTI doesn't take notice of 100 mph, it just takes it and asks "What do you say to 120?"
The tartan cloth seats are not my cup of tea, and overall I thought the interior wasn't up to par with the Jetta. But for a fast, fun car that's relatively affordable and looks good in black, I have to give my approval.
Japanese Drift Champ Takes On The VW GTI's DSG [internal]
Jalopnik Reviews, 2006 Volkswagen Golf GTI, Part 3 [internal]