Since this was my first car, I am a little biased toward the Jetta. I will try to base my review on my feelings during the early years of ownership when I was in college. The car was FUN - GREAT TO DRIVE. I had the 5sp manual. It had great torque for a 1.8L engine. Fuel economy averaged 24mpg/29mpg. I drove my car hard from day one like a young mad man. I bought it with ~97k miles and donated it with ~183k miles on Dec 2005. I was sad to let her go. The engine was bulletproof. I was hard on wear and tear parts such as brakes and suspension because I drove hard. Considering the hard life up to 150k miles the car was reliable. Previous owner took car of all of the early bugs.
Large trunk to overload the car. Great engine. Manual 5 speed. Reverse was next to 1st gear. The A/C was great (cold). German engineering. Dashboard design for a 1990. I learned a lot about cars on this car.
I had no cruise control. Find a good mechanic that can take care of you and the car. 2 door little car is a bad idea. Stick with 4 doors if it is not a vette. Thermostat switch went out so radiator valve was always wide open making for a cool heater when driving, but warm when idle.