So far, so good with my '03 1.8T manual wagon. I have had other VWs and wanted a small but sporty wagon and I picked this one up certified pre-owned in September 2006 with 34k miles on it. I have had to replace wear and tear items (brakes, etc.) but I have get to have a mechanical problem with it. Sure, it has quirks (sunroof sometimes opens by itself; cupholders are useless but I don't use them anyway; sometimes te rear hatch doesn't like to open). To me, these are minor annoyances that don't impact my love of the car. I plan to run it into the ground since there aren't any fun, small wagons on the market I like (new Jetta too large). So far, so good at 82k miles.
Engine (1.8T)! Good pick-up; I can pass in 5th gear without downshifting; Good clutch and shifter; size of the car; cargo area in the hatch
I loved this car for the first 60,000, then it was just problem after problem. I kept good care of the car but was having continuous issues with the water pump and other minor things. The major problem was the fact that a lot of parts in the engine were made of plastic so instead of replacing just a simple section of a part the whole thing had to be replaced. I averaged about $600 every time the car went in. About 2 years ago I spent over $2,400 at one time!! Recently the car had some more problems that included the fuel pump. I took the car in and the mechanic told me it was not worth fixing. The car had 119,000 miles on it. It did it's job. The sunroof was possessed.
The handling of the car. Fun to drive through winding roads. The color. The laughs we got when the sunroof would open and shut whenever it wanted!!! Freaky!!
The car has been nothing but sensational, smooth, quiet, quick, powerful and very comfortable (even though firmer suspension). The interior quality is amazing, including soft touch materials, premium cloth and overall presentation. The car has a nice balance between fuel economy and sport. You really feel like your in a BMW, very tight. If you want a premium car, with near-luxury appointments - this is the car, believe me. I have had only two minor issues including a passenger-side seat heater stop working and a rear taillight bulb (brake light) went out. I love this car, love its beige and black interior combination that is unbelievable rich looking. Highly recommended.
Can't name it all; power sunroof/moonroof (multi-adjust), blue/red interior lighting (very classy), black/beige interior combination (rich looking), premium cloth seats, sound system (quality sound), powerful engine (180 hp. turbo), ride firm but comfortable, heated seats, solid quality...
Paint scratches easily, front bumper is too low (gets hit on tall curbs if not careful), the beige cloth gets dirty quick, cup holders in front of radio system - need xenon headlights.
I bought my car new in 2003. I have had no problems out of it thus far. I love the get up and go of the turbo. Even though it is turbo, the gas mileage does not suffer. I get at least 30 mpg. It is fun to drive and economical. It is also the third VW that I have owned. It is probably all that I will ever own.