In short, I'm looking at a few cars, all pretty similar: 2016 Civic EX-T, 2016 Forte5 SX Turbo, 2016 Golf/GTI - basically, all small(ish) cars with turbo engines. I guess the Civic isn't small anymore.

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The GTI is a stretch - a 5-door base model is several thousand dollars more than the current trims I'm looking at for the Civic and Forte5 SX. However, the Golf is in the right price range and the power is in line with what the other two cars offer. Keep in mind everything I'm looking at is in Canadian dollars, with our generous tax (13%) applied.

Back to my main issue: how is the regular Golf hatchback? The mid-level and fully-loaded trims are in the right price range, but I feel like I could never really enjoy it because I'm losing out on the GTI experience. Even if I could get a base GTI, I'd still feel like I'm losing out without the performance pack.

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This being a car forum, I’d imagine I’ll get several opinions about how I should consider other cars, used cars, Miatas, brown diesel wagons, etc. but I’m really not interested. I did look at many other options but for one reason or another it comes down to these choices.

If you guys have experience with the new Civic EX-T or the Forte5 SX, I'd like to hear it. I'll be test driving these cars either today or tomorrow, but my biggest question is the difference between the Golf, GTI, and GTI performance pack - I don't want a base GTI if the performance pack makes that big of a difference, but I can live with the power deficit if the regular Golf is still an engaging drive.