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)
† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.