I've had my 2003 Golf GLS for 3 years now. I bought it used with 10,200 miles on it. I've put 65,000 miles on it.
I like how competent it feels no matter the conditions. It's heavy enough to feel safe on the freeway and light enough to get great mileage.
I'm a paint contractor and I haul all my gear in it daily. It holds my Little Giant ladder with just the passenger front seat put down. I've even put 2'x8' wood planks in it and was able to shut the hatch. I call it my "clown car". When we go camping it holds all of our gear with ease...camp kitchen, coolers, coleman stove, sterilite tub, etc. My wife's 2010 Honda Insight can hold about half as much...really!
In short...I love this car!
I've got 221,000 miles on my TDI and it's running like it's got a quarter of the mileage on it. It's a great commuter and the gas mileage is what sells the car. It is a little under powered but for 45 mpg's the sacrifice is well worth it. The looks are good but not everyones cup of tea (I've upgraded a few things here and there and it is quite the little head turner). The interior is much nicer than most American or Japanese cars but it is pretty basic for a German car. The build quality is typical German excellence, rock solid. The drive is nice, great for the highway but not the most fun car to take on twisty roads.
My advice, upgrade a few things and this car will be golden forever.
I bought this car brand new in 2002. At first, everything was great. Good gas mileage. Sporty little car. Great for zipping around town and did well on road trips. However, it started having all sorts of problems after about 18-24 months, beginning with the "small" and annoying (head lights constantly burning out, display lights inexplicably going off and coming on, airbags needed replacement without ever having been used or the car being in an accident). Then, around 65,000 miles, the check engine light was constantly on. Then, the transmission blew and it needed a new timing belt, air sensor, alternator & more. It has cost me thousands to repair and has become a money pit.
Holds an amazing amount of stuff. Good gas mileage. Comfortable to drive.
Convenience features: better cup holder; option for leather interior; option for 6-disc CD changer, satellite radio & MP3 jack. Performance, reliability & mechanical: drastically improve the quality of mechanical parts & function. A car that has been used gently shouldn't be dying at 60,000+ miles.
I bought this car new and have mostly used this for city driving. I haul a lot of stuff. I'm a paint contractor and I do work in decorative concrete. I can fit my little giant ladders inside the vehicle, and other ladders on my roof rack. It handles a lot of sacks of concrete, with no adverse effects on braking, handling. I can get 8' 2x4s in there also. I've gotten 4 sheets of 3/4 ply on the roof and still an easy drive. Its surprising just how much this can haul. This is a fantastic Urban car. The best, imho. Enough power to hit the highways in the burbs. Short enough to parallel park in tight spots. Amble space for groceries. And great mpg for city.
1.size vs cargo space. there's a lot of bang for your buck here. 2. length. i can park this puppy anywhere. 3. fold down seats. 4. the spare tire is a real tire, not a temp. 4. foldable side mirrors. a must for city parking.
I would rubberize the storage area and back of the fold down seats. The leather stick shift cover should be redesigned to have less abrasion. I'd actually prefer it to be a little bit boxier the cupholder for the 2003 version is a bit pathetic. It's fixed in newer models.
I bought a 2003 vw golf GL 2.0L with only 35,000 miles on it. I love this car. Its not a sports car by all means, but even with just the 2.0L it goes like a bat outta hell. I was iffy on buying another VW because my sister has a 02' jetta 1.8t and to my knowledge of people whom have owned that engine. They hate it, always in & out the shop (mostly transmission problems and just everything goes wrong in it). Hints why I bought a 2.0L. LOVE IT There's always been VW in my family, dad had an old beetle, and a square back.
I love the Lights inside the car. The seats are really comfortable for me. Love love the candy white paint.
I would suggest more power. But it does need a bigger gas tank. Only has a 12.5gallon tank. Saves you money at the pump but would be nicer with a 16gallon for more mileage.