After having my first VW at age 17, I went to a new VW at age 22. The Golf was an affordable first car and now, after three kids, I can't get this car to quit. The engine is true VW form as it goes as long as the electronics will let it. The zippiness is a blast on curvy hills. The time in the shop was plenty (two clutch cables, new transmission, and alarm system malfunction) in the first 3 years and then, nothing but regular maintenance for 7 years. Now the seats and door locks are failing, but it still gets 29 mpg after 11 years, 135,000 miles and moving 3 states. As much as we want a new car, this one could keep the gas bills down for years to come.
Handling and responsive acceleration. Closing the door feels solid and not tin can-like.
Definitely cup holders need work. The one that could fit a large coffee is behind the console and broke after a few years.