I bought my Golf new in May '97. Kept it simple by NOT having power door locks, air conditioning or auto trans. I now have 203,125 miles on the odometer, and everything is working great. I have had some minor trim problems years ago, but resolved by non-vw bodyshop. I've had the front and rear brakes done once each (wear and tear) and I'm now on my second complete muffler replacement. I have not experienced any of the wiper/door lock failures, though locks freeze up easy. driving is manageable in snow but not great. I'm still on the same clutch. I regularly have VW maintenance @ 5000mi to take care of it and performs better on 91 octane gas. Is is fun? Got caught doing 113mi/hr in a 50 zone.
Passing ability in 2nd and 3rd gear. fuel economy, moon roof, optional premium sound system.
moon roof leaks a bit (shows some slight roof material stains), if your trim is falling off get a bodyshop to permanently stick it on - not VW. In cold climates keep lock de-icer handy. Suggestion for all German Car Makers (VW, BMW, AUDI): offer the 2.0L AWD Diesel models readily available in Germany