That "small" price difference isn't really small at all once the real world sets in. You'll get a couple of grand off an R and end up somewhere in the high 30s. Conversely, you'll get way more off a similarly-optioned GTI. A $34k SE can easily end up being $27k. That's a $10k delta. As an example of what non-Rs actually go for down here (and Canadialand may be different), I negotiated a 35th Anniversary Jetta GLI deal yesterday for my cousin. $28,XXX MSRP car for $22.5k, and it took almost no work for that more-than-$6k discount.Given the small difference in price btw a equally loaded GTI and Golf R, it does not make sense to get a GTI unless you dont care for leather and really want a sunroof.
The only two non SUV options for me are C43 or R.