I have to say, coming from a Lexus to this car, I mentally prepared myself for a host of problems and maintenance issues after hearing horror stories of people owning Volkswagens and Audis. But to my surprise, this has been the most reliable car I've ever owned. Change the oil, and the car is like brand-new again. I think that folks have issues VW's because unlike Japanese cars, you really should stick to the maintenance schedules otherwise I can imagine you have a lot of problems. This engine for example, eats oil so you really shouldn't go over the recommended oil change intervals. Having owned this car for almost 8 years now I can say that I've only had a few things go wrong with it, there was an issue VW fixed under and extended warranty for a particular part. The 90K service was the only thing I ever paid for it, but that was the only major maintenance I have ever done on this car so far. It was about $2K for that services. $2K in maintenance over almost 8 years is not bad at all...
This really is the perfect everyday car for young people or retirees without kids or for kids who have left the nest. The best thing about this car is that it is quick and responsive. The clutch travel is short and the torque means you have instant responses to input which means you can get out of tight situations in traffic, pass with ease, squeeze through cars and obstacles, take tight turns with stability and confidence, and you have enough space to carry pretty much anything in the trunk and more if you fold the seats down. The ride is rigid for sure, but refined in the same way. It's very comfortable at highway speeds, but the car seems to get a bit more frazzled as you approach the top speed the more and more you go above 115 mph or so. What I love most about this car however is that it thinks about practical things about the driver of the car and has little nuances I've never seen in American cars or Japanese luxury cars. It, for example, will automatically engage the rear window wiper when your front wipers are on and you go into reverse. This is so you can see behind you (very thoughtful). It also allows you to lock the car with the remote before closing the door so you can get your groceries out and close the door without worry about engaging the lock button with your hands full. Besides that it's got a great stereo and great xenon lights. It's such an awesome and well thought out car!
The weaknesses of this car largely have to do with it's size. Because it's light, small, and quick, it's not terribly great at being a car for all seasons and not my ideal car for the long road trip (especially if you have 1 or more passengers). The cabin space can feel cramped after a while and with me being 6'1" I can't ever get the seat low enough without seeming to stare through the top part of the windshield. Large puddles have a way or really slowing this car down and it's not that great on snow. The major weakness of this car though I would have to say is the air conditioning. On really really hot days, 90+ degree heat with 90+% humidity in the D.C. area, it never seemed to get nearly as cool as you would want it. I guess it never gets that hot in Germany... who knows? But on days like that I always wish the air conditioner was better. The heating however is immaculate, with the window open on days of 50 degrees or less, it radiates heat automatically so you never feel cold.
Having kids soon with more storage needs I kind of wish this car would start having problems, so I can have an excuse to get a larger car, but so far, it hasn't happened. It's really a great car, a masterpiece!
I bought my GTI new and it was my first car. I have loved it!!! It's been very reliable and fun to drive, as well as economical on gas, a great value. I have had no problems with the car and it has over 40,000 mi on it now. I am happy to have had this as my first car! I hope to keep it until it finally dies one day.
Engine, DSG gearbox, brakes and suspension.
Make the lumbar support for the seats better, but other than that it is very nicely built.
I bought this car new.
It now has 110,000 miles on it (more highway than city) and it's been 100% reliant.
All I've ever done is maintenance, oil changes, tires around 60K, brakes around 70K, a taillight.
I had the a/c compressor just go out (around 95,000) and I just got the timing chain redone for piece of mind.
The biggest pain really has been changing the air filter.
I have the manual and wow, it is still fun to drive 6 years later.
I've never been able to go into an automated car wash though because the design on that rear wiper is awful. It has a cheap plastic housing that is open and anything will bust it off and if that happens, when you hit the rear wiper spray you will spray a car about 30 feet behind you.
I have been pleasantly surprised by this car. bought it new so I could get a warrranty as I was not sure of VW quality. I now have close to 70k on it, and haven't had any problems. It's a blast to drive and gets good mileage (25 - 30+, depending on the type of driving I do). The manual transmission is fun to shift; I have tried several others since having this car, and they all seem cheap and clunky to me now. Definitely one of my all-time favorite cars.
Acceleration, design, front seats, reliability, functionality, mileage.
Of course, more power would always be nice. My main gripe is how the car obsessive-compulsively locks itself any chance it gets. You can't exit the car and open the hatch without having to use your fob.
Bought my 2007 4-door GTI as a CPO in 2009 with 35k miles. Have put about 20k miles on it in approx 2 years. Haven't had any issues with the car since owning it other than expected maintenance, also not with higher-than-normal tire-wear (even with an occasionally heavy right foot...).
Car has leather, sat-nav, sunroof, DSG, sport steering wheel with controls, factory 18" wheels. Even now, the car's very nimble, snug seats and the direct steering feedback make it exceptionally great fun to drive! The folding rear seats make it roomier than expected (hello Ikea). The DSG shifts super-fast when accelerating, but displays lag during kick-down.Bad: old nav is slow, road noise, occasional rattle.
DSG in manual allows you to "lock" the current gear even under high revs, enabling quick acceleration out of corners and other fun things; other systems "intelligently" (read: "annoyingly") shift sooner or later. Heated sport seats are an ideal balance of snug and comfy. Driving is fun and go-kart like: steering is very responsive, accelerating is great fun, especially after spending $1000 on aftermarket ECU tuning by APR: 212 --> 252HP; 224 --> 303 lb-ft TQ; the torque makes the difference! Four doors and split-folding rear seats make the car very practical. Topping ti off, the price of this car easily makes it the best all-rounder in it's class.
Though only a few years old, the nav's software (or is it the hardware?) makes the system annoyingly slow and out-of-date in a Windows 95 kind of way: by today's standards, it works, but doesn't work very well. The front seats' back rests recline with the aid of a cumbersome adjuster wheel each; hope you have strong wrists. The occasional interior rattle from the hand-brake release knob and and the AC vents are annoying, but not worth repairing... making it not the least bit less of a nuisance.
In the end, these flaws don't make the GTI less of a great car. With a growing family, I am looking for something bigger now, but find it difficult to part from this fantastic little car.