While this is not the most appealing car it has been incredibly reliable. 15 years old and the only thing I've had to fix since acquiring it 6 years ago was a oil pressure sending unit for $60! My 2001 Jetta was a disaster of a car...constantly breaking down. The VW's of the 1990's are amazingly reliable vehicles.
This was (and still is) my first car that I got in high school. I got it with 68,000 miles in 07 and have put on about 30,000 since then. Even with only 4 cylinders I have no problems getting up to speed on the highway and passing people. The gas mileage is ok around town but between 50-75 it really rocks. The interior was cheaply made, and there are a lot of cheap plastic pieces, but at 15 years old I'm not surprised that most of it is deteriorating. The biggest problem I had was with an intermittent speedometer, but I plan on running this car into the ground. If you can find one, you will not be disappointed.
If you are looking for a fun, comfortable (for 2 people), cool, and somewhat sporty car, a GTI is it. Having a VR6 makes this even more of an enjoyable experience. I am behind my VeeDub 100%! I've had it for about 100,000 miles and plan on having it for another 100,000! Good luck in your car buying!
All I really need to say is drive the car and then you would just get it. Its performance is great, wonderful and they are only getting better. I have an older one but it still runs like new. Saying that it is fun to drive is an understatement with this car. I find unnecessary trips to take now just so I can drive, even with the gas prices. I might not travel far for work and errands, but this car gets GREAT! It gets great gas mileage! It's only a 2.0L which is part of it, but even so I think that it is wonderful on gas. Its build quality is strong and you can't expect anything less from German engineering. I have always loved VW's and now it is crazy love. I would NEVER trade it for anything else! DRIVER FOUND.
I'm 3 years into owning my 97 Golf, having bought it with 24k miles, I can say that its the little things that drive you crazy. Now at 75k+, engine is still a tiger, it's zippy and fun to drive with enough pickup to blow off slow pokes on the highway - still, I'd be hard pressed to ever buy VW again - within a year of buying, seized power locks, dead rear wiper, no intermittant wiper up front. Many obnoxious little repairs and electrical bugs = Serious pain in the butt. Cute and utile, but doesnt hold up well here in the Upstate NY Arctic!
Cute, perky, distinctive, beats a Civic with it's Euro styling and sensibility, but you'd better care more about image than comfort.
Seats are wretched, suprisingly bad in the snow, door locks and wipers are nearly useless, lots of electrical gremlins.