Used 1999 Volkswagen Golf Diesel

1999 Volkswagen Golf
List price range


  • Fun to drive, comfortable ride, hatchback utility, lots of standard features in fourth-generation Golf, generous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.


  • Some controls hard to decipher, CD player should be standard.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

The third- and fourth-generation Golfs are descendants of the wonder car that started the econobox trend in the U.S. more than two decades ago -- the Volkswagen Rabbit. The first Golfs were much like the Rabbit -- stubby and blocky in style, fun to drive, fuel-efficient and inexpensive to buy, but unfortunately, costly to maintain and repair. Introduced in 1993, the third-generation Golf is still chunky in appearance if a bit sleeker than its predecessors. It is fun to drive. It sips fuel, though not as frugally as it should. It is affordable. And Volkswagen has attempted to dispel reliability fears by backing it with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Through the end of the 1990s, we hadn't heard many horror stories about maintenance costs or breakdowns involving third-generation Golfs, and the overall staff consensus is that this would be a rewarding hatchback to own and drive. However, this Golf is now in its sixth year of production, so Volkswagen has seen fit to introduce the completely redesigned fourth-generation Golf halfway through the model year.

Both generations will be sold as 1999 models, but the new version is easily the better choice. Advantages include greater structural rigidity, which yields tighter body panel fits and improved handling characteristics; engine, suspension and brake upgrades; more standard equipment; and a more stylish interior (replete with VW's signature blue and red backlighting at night). Further, the redesigned Golf has a slightly longer and wider body and rides on a longer wheelbase; the result is more interior head- and legroom and another cubic foot of cargo space.

The standard engine for both Golfs is a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four, but a new cross-flow cylinder head in the redesigned hatchback allows drivers to access the engine's horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque lower in the rpm range. You can choose either a manual or automatic, though fuel economy is nothing to write home about with either transmission (24 mpg city/31 mpg highway versus 22/28). Instead, long-distance commuters will want to check out the new Golf's available 1.9-liter turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel four-cylinder, which is rated at 42/49 with a manual and 34/45 with an automatic. Although the TDI is low on horsepower, its 155 lb-ft of torque at just 1,900 rpm will ensure that your Golf has plenty of pep for quick maneuvers. If you want more power with your Golf, just wait until the 2000 model year when VW offers its 150-hp 1.8T engine for the four-door Golf.

Trim levels for the third-generation Golf include the base GL and the well-equipped Wolfsburg; both are sold only as four-doors. The GL comes with keyless entry, an anti-theft alarm, and power windows and locks; options include air conditioning, a stereo with cassette player, ABS, side airbags and a moonroof. The Wolfsburg gives you the A/C and the cassette stereo, along with cruise control, power windows (with one-touch up/down operation), heated power mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and alloy wheels; you can order a CD changer as an option.

Fourth-generation Golf buyers can choose between GL and GLS trim; both engines are available at either level. Right away, you'll note that VW has substantially increased the amount of standard equipment, as even the GL includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side airbags and a telescoping steering wheel, as well as A/C and a stereo. The GLS adds heated power mirrors and cruise, with a moonroof, CD changer and alloy wheels available as options.

Though engineered to provide a comfortable ride, both Golfs are endowed with communicative suspension and steering setups, which makes them more fun in corners than your typical Honda Civic. Besides that, the fourth-generation Golf gives you a lot more style and content than you could ever hope to find in the Civic. What the VW doesn't give you is Honda's reputation for dependability, but we've been impressed by the solid construction of the Golf specimens we've examined recently -- enough so that we feel that most Golfs can provide years of entertaining service.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1999 Volkswagen Golf.

Bubblehead, 4/5/2002
Great economy, great handling, fun to drive!
First Diesel
fowvay, 7/30/2005
This was my first new VW and it has turned out to be one of my best cars. I have had to educate myself about the mechanicals of the vehicle because the dealer network is useless but this has made the ownership experience quite fun. I don't mind getting my hands dirty and the aftermarket segment supports these vehicles beautifully.
Single person's dream
TDiMonkey, 9/3/2005
Overall the 1999 VW golf is a fantastic car. It has the handling of a go-kart, fuel economy like a moped, and acceleration like a puma. The TDI engine is exceptional with its milage and reliability. In burning biodiesel, I expect to reach 300,000 miles without any major issues, if the body lasts that long (salty Maine air, roads).
Love the Car, not the service
Wex, 2/20/2003
I love driving this car and now that I am looking for another car, nothing near the price has as smooth a ride. Great pep for 45 MPH. But, I've had elecitrical problems and maintence issues on the turbo, which were expensive.
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Features & Specs

35 city / 44 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
90 hp @ 3750 rpm
35 city / 44 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
90 hp @ 3750 rpm
See all Used 1999 Volkswagen Golf Diesel features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1999 Volkswagen Golf
Used 1999 Volkswagen Golf Diesel Overview

The Used 1999 Volkswagen Golf Diesel is offered in the following styles: GL TDi 2dr Hatchback (midyear), and GLS TDi 4dr Hatchback (midyear).

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