I bought my 1996 GTI (5 speed)last year (2008)with approx 95k miles on it. I love this car! She won't quit! Had one problem with her where she died on the road: turns out with the ac on full blast (soon after starting) in high heat of South FL, blew the coil circuit. VWs are notorious for electrical problems as they age, but they are usual suspects as with any car: coil/coil circuit (ie...wiring), ignition switch, spark plugs (do not use platinum 4 prongs-they don't last). If you do a little research to pinpoint the usual problems - you'll be able to get her in prime shape inexpensively (VW Depot in FL are the best).
Smoothness of changing gears. Sunroof.
Only thing I would chg are the wacky fabrics used on the seats... but then again, it's part of it's charm :o)
As much fun as my car is to drive, I've had ongoing problems since purchasing it as a 2nd owner initially with 95,000 miles. I have invested $$ to keep the car up to par, but to no avail as minor and major issues keep cropping up. Repairs as well as parts can be expensive so beware if you are financially strapped. It's unfortunate that Volkswagen which wrote the book on quality has now lost that winning formula.
Power and performance
Improve Quality of parts; better reliability; make parts less expensive including labor; longer warranty and better dealership experience.
I needed a good commuter for my new job which requires I commute 100 miles per day round trip. I decided on a 96 GTI 2.0 because MPG is as important as being fun to drive. It turns out I am averaging 30-32 MPG. I was lucky to find an unmodified, well maintained w/ an almost new interior for it's 13 year/123,000 age. I love this little car, I find myself not wanting to drive my 06' SS/SC. The 2.0 engine mated to the 5 speed is wonderful, the car is as tight (structurally) as a new car. I cruise at 70-80 mph without any drama. I more pleased than I expected I would be and parts are cheap. I high recommend 2.0 GTI's for anyone looking good MPGs, excellent hauling space and a fun daily driver!
comfort, build quality, interior space, fun to drive, MPG
I love this car and think it is fun to drive. It looks so cute and gets a lot of comments, even now that it has 100,000 miles on it. Unfortunately, it has taken a lot of money to keep it running. The brakes needed replaced entirely, costing over $1000, at 60,000 miles. The license surround broke the day I bought it. The exhaust needed replaced twice in 4 years. It had a persistant oil pressure problem that couldn't be figured out by numerous shops. Warning lights come on when it gets wet and shops can't seem to fix it. The car nearly caught fire when the electrical system melted, costing about $2000 to fix. The water pump, thermostat, and harmonic balancer just quit. I won't buy another VW.
I bought this car in 2002. I absolutely love VWs, always wanted one.I have had a continuing throttle problem, and transmission proble. Ceiling upholstery is falling. Very recently spent $500 to replace ignition - the key would not turn at all in the ignition, I actully had to have it towed twice to a car repair shop for this problem. Car is very fast for a 4 cylinder. Nice sporty European car - get many looks. I actually love this car. I considered buying a new GTI - but I am now too old for the youthful sports car. The problems that I have with this car have nothing to do with design - but age. FYI - my car only has 82000 miles on a 11 year old car.