I love this car, it's just fun. As much as the rust and minor issues annoy me, in the end it puts a smile on my face every time I sit behind the steering wheel. You feel the road as you drive it, and with that you gain a connection with the car, as if it's an extension of yourself. As much as I'd love a brand new clean car, I can't help but think it just wouldn't be as much of a joy to drive. 150,000 miles, 10,000 of which are mine, and many more to come.
I bought mine new back in 1998, expecting to keep it a few years. Almost 14 years later it's still going strong and I still like it. The good things about it are that it's fast, quick, and nimble. The seats are form fitting and keep you from moving around. Repairs have been rare, but fairly expensive when they came. The strangest one was the replacement of the thermostat, which 1 garage couldn't even find, and that the dealer replaced for $450. In general, though, it's been very reliable. The only down side to it is that you feel every bump in the road. That gets annoying after a while.
Better instrument cluster, especially lighting.
It's very dim at night.
I love this car. My older brother gave it to me for my 16th birthday. It already had 88,000 miles on it but it still runs really well. The only thing it really needed was a new throttle body and some wheel bearings. I love the interior and it gets great gas mileage (between 29 and 33 mpg).
The only thing I can think of to improve is the standard battery, it was replaced twice.
I've owned my '98 GTI VR6 for one year now and have loved it! When purchased it had just hit 100,000 miles but was well maintained. I have since put 40,000 more on it without the first bit of trouble. I did however have a minor accident a couple months after buying it causing me to replace some suspension components. I chose to upgrade with Bilstein struts and lowering springs. I also added an intake and chip. Even with the mods & 17" wheels I still get around 25 mpg city / hwy. I would suggest this car to any sport enthusiast. However bear in mind it is not the quietest car inside or out. So if you dont mind the occasional squeak GO FOR IT!
The VR6 engine! Also, I like the lines on these cars they just look clean. They don't look too flashy or "import tuner" but when you blow by the guy in the Mustang heads turn!
I think the car is great but it could always be a little faster or handle a little better. All that can be change for a couple extra thousand dollars though.