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)