I had a MKV GTI (The generation prior to this one- MKVI) and I LOVED it. I'm def biased since I'm a big VW/Audi fan, though. I would say it's a fairly reliable car overall. Granted, it was mentioned that VWs are notorious for their electrical bugs (I would get my check engine light if I had the radio on with the engine off and it would disappear the next time I turned it on lol), but it's a really fun daily driver with a lot energy for the low price tag. Flashing the ECU/chipping it as someone else recommended will make it an entirely different experience in a good way- noticeable gains and for a modest price. I was a big fan of the interlagos cloth too, I didn't want leather since I was an "enthusiast"... Just took a ride in the new MKVI for the first time this weekend since a friend got one and the interior remains very clean. It's worth noting that the MKVI and the MKV are essentially mechanically identical. The MKVI is aesthetically refined which was my instant observation upon entering it. Cleaaaaan.
Check out vwvortex.com if you're curious what the whole scene is about. You don't need to become a fan boy but it's resourceful for DIYs and stuff nevertheless. I want to kop the new Golf R when it comes out because I've always wanted a 4 door manual R.
The A3 would be an awesome buy IMO too... I've searched high and low for the elusive S3 to no avail
I like the S Line A3 by default because it has quattro, but any A3 I think is the more responsible, grown up choice if you're looking for a hatch, even if it slightly loses the pocket-rocket, hot-hatch appeal in exchange for that maturity.