Bought a pristine K2 with heated seats for $4k-ish. Great daily driver. Good on gas, just enough pep, simple to work on yourself. Airbags, so relatively safe. No better $4k beater out there. 5 way heated seats a bonus in winter. Nice cold A/C.
This car is the only car in a house with 2 adults, a large dog, and a baby and we are hardly ever lacking for space. The best thing about this car is the versatility of changing from a 4-passenger car to a small utility hauler. Cupholders are terrible. Reliability has been good except for a number of small problems that keep popping up (horn and A/C switches stopped working, turn signal sticks, trim falls off, etc.). Still burns no oil at 75,000 miles. Great car that handles great but acts much bigger than it is.
I bought this car several months ago with about 68,000 miles, and I've put a couple thousand more miles on it. So far my only maintenance has been scheduled items like replacing the timing belt and new tires.
Cons: Rear CD-changer won't release at 20k, automatic trans that won't shift up on a warm day at 30k, Door trim falling off at 35k, rattle in dash at 50k, oil leak at 55k with fumes into pass compartment. Pros: Performance, mpg, interior room especially for cargo hauling, the wonderful mechanically adjustable drivers seat, ride and looks (except for the headlight bezels, which looked outdated even in 98).
I love my car for various reasons. The interior design is nice with a very sturdy black fabric with red stiching. The stick has a sporty look. Much nicer than the usually boring interior design for the Golf. Also resisted my 6 year old spilling food in the car for years. It's easy to park in the city yet I've been able to move beds and bookshelves. My main complaint has been the molding on the side doors: a couple of years ago they started falling off and ultimately I had to spend hundreds of dollars to replace them (also made the mistake to throw them away when they could have been glued back on). Turned out to be an expensive feature. Tires seem to fail too.