I traded in my 1993 5-speed Golf for a used 2003 VW Golf 2-door hatchback, auto, 2.0L,silver, and WOW what a car. Its handling is great. It is very comfortable to drive. It makes city driving less of a stop and go nuisance as it is with a stick. The smooth transmission just glides all over the city. Its handling on the freeway is like flying an airplane. This car is easy to drive and park.
I like how it has lots of room, a nice interior, is easy to park, and has ZIP around the city.
VW must keep the interior cabin noise to a minimum. On a hard rough road / street with pot holes, be careful.
The '03 VW Golf is a very practical, fun to drive car ideally suited for urban commuter use. It was very reliable up to about 60,000 miles, then problems started to crop up, starting with a glow plug failure. After hitting 100,000 miles, I have spent $4,000 on repairs (injector pump, timing belt, water pump, cooling fan, strut mounts, controlling arms). Where I live, diesel generally costs 10% to 15% more than gas, mileage is probably 30% to 40% better than a gas model.
The good gas mileage, practicality, and road feel.
I have two Veedubs in the family now, and both have been bulletproof. It seems the dependability of VW in general is pretty variable, but if you can score the right car, as we apparently have, they are very trustworthy. I am going to get jumped on for this, but it seems to me the vehicles that come from Germany, i.e., the Touareg, are more problematic than the ones built in Latin America. Anyway back to the TDI - the car amazes me, and most people who ride in it instantly want one. Accordingly, TDIs get snapped up real quickly around here. The power and handling, while not quite sports-car caliber, are simply much better than you'd expect from a car capable of 50 mpg. No more gas-cars for me!
The TDI engine, fit and finish, and Monsoon stereo. The roof rack system is the best I have seen.
The seats attract dirt like crazy and are difficult to keep looking nice. Leather would be nice, but most TDIs aren't that well optioned. The ground clearance is very low. A 4Motion version would be perfect.