I bought my R32 brand new in 2004 after test driving much more expensive cars.
I have owned my car 8 years.
I have pampered it (garaged in the winter, park it like it is a Ferrari, etc) and it looks brand new (kudos to VW for the Tornado Red paint holding up like it is showroom condition 8 years later).
I have not had one problem with it -- most trouble free car I have owned (compared to more expensive cars I have owned from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Audi, Acura).
And, more than any car (Lexus SC400 comes in a close second, and Toyota MR2 a distant third), this BY FAR is the most fun car I have owned.
Hard to describe, but 8 years later, I am more elated than day bought.
handling, cornering, gestalt ability to feel one with the road, go-kart like sensibility, 6 speed manual, speakers if you replace the head unit, etc
and i can fit a family of 5 in it!
I purchased the vehicle at a great price because it had a lot of miles on it, I have been driving it ever since i bought it and wouldn't trade it for the world. I work at a dealership and I've driven my share of cars, this one takes the cake as the most fun car I have ever driven. Period. Everything about it screams amazing, the look, the styling, the epic exhaust sound, the amazing handling, the peppy speed, the smooth six speed gearbox, and last but surely not the end or least, the epic brakes. All around this car is a great buy, coming with numerous interior features that barely come standard on your common exensive BMW. Like I said, wouldn't trade it for anything.
The exhaust is probably the most memorable part about this vehicle, it has such a sweet harmony as you're passing most of the vehicles on the road, and to control all that power, an amazing all wheel drive system (4motion), and some serious brakes to wrap it all together.
I bought some aftermarket sway bars for the vehicle and it made a world of difference, slightly challenging to install but kept the car level with the ground around any turn, elimanting any tailslide at all. Also put some coilovers on the vehicle to lower it and give it an even more aggresive look.
At 60+ I'm probably not the usual R32 driver but it's been my daily ride for nearly 6 years. I drive it hard and love it. Reliability has been good other than for major transmission repairs at 35,000 and 65,000 miles along with clutch replacements at the same time. I don't think I drive THAT hard, but maybe I push it harder than the average driver. I've heard that AWD vehicles a hard on their drive trains because their wheels can't slip to release strain. Other than that issue a wheel bearing at 70,000 and an instrument cluster replacement under warranty have been the only other major repairs. I've yet to replace the brakes (maybe that's why I have worn out the clutches!)
Precise transmission shifter; the wonderful Koenig seats (although they get a bit tight on a drive of more than a few hours); ability to blow away most other cars on the road; passing in 4th gear on a 2-lane road.
HID headlights would have been great. I added an Audi TT spare tire (even though it will only fit on the rear).
This has been a fun car to drive for 103,000 miles so far. With snow on the ground and winter tires, it is an absolute blast. Reliability has been good, needing just a wheel bearing and fuel pump so far. Of all the cars I have owned, this is by far the most all around fun to drive.
It is a wonderful total package. Seats, engine, 6 spd, steering, 4 wheel independent susp, all wheel drive...it's all great.
Everybody always wants more power....but overall, the car is perfect as it is. The only thing I wish it had were the HID headlights.
My current Deep Blue Pearl 2004 R32, is actually my SECOND. In between, I drove a 2005 Audi S4 with a 344hp V-8 under it's hood. I missed my 250hp (yes it DID HAVE 250 stock) uber-hatch. What can a person POSSIBLY FIND to complain about with this car, except perhaps the limited rear-seat legroom? It's faster (w simple tuning) than the Audi, has an Audi engine, Audi AWD, will stop faster than 99.9% of ALL CARS, will handle until YOU QUIT and comes with nearly all the luxury features the S4 did ( & some extra), plus it's the only VW to be built by Porsche in Slovakia. 5,000 autobahn-intended machines imported at American journalists behest for the U.S. ONLY. FAST, FUN, PRACTICAL... GERMAN.
I wouldn't complain if came with 300 ponies in original form They shouldn't have removed stock German spec Xenon headlamps before importing. U.S. also added speed governor at 132, to car produced for autobahn. Removal = better mileage and 170 mph top speed. Other than THAT? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!