I purchased my GTI in 2004 with 22,000 miles on it. It is now at 41,000 miles. Issues: sunroof rails changed, new ECU programming, driver side passenger seat heat system replaced, airbag light went on - changed resistor in driver seat, arm rest latch snapped, and coils changed, coolant latch changed. Small issues that are annoying, but overall car is super fast and consistent: red line it all the time, mechanically super sound. These are small gremlins that once resolved give you no more headaches, Fortunately I got all of the issues described taken care of in first two months of ownership. Now I just do scheduled maintenance and fill up with gas and GO. For a beater car, this is not dissappointing at all, and did I say it is SO FAST.
The invisible hand pushing your chest in when the turbo kicks in. It is exhilirating, more fun than my friend's Z350 and bimmer 330. It has great trunk space (IKEA shopping is a breeze), is solid (I rear ended a cab and the bumper is still in one piece). My car has been abused and holds up well. It is surprising EXCELLENT in snow driving.
It has weak paint (bird poop scars) that is easy to scratch. For the price point and for my use the car rocks.