I've owned this car for 7 years. It is, on the whole, a very good car that suffered from periods of erratic reliability. The pluses are that it gets superb mileage. 50 mpg is not a joke, and 45-50 in stop and go commuting traffic around the metro area is really stellar. The car has been very comfortable. The car is also very practical as a hauler. Cargo capacity is great. Supremely reliable diesel engine. The minuses. Questionable reliability in some areas -- the power windows, steering rack (twice!) and the car frequently illuminates the warning lights for extremely minor problems (quite an annoyance). A great commuter car with a few blemishes.
Diesel fuel economy. Bulletproof engine. Comfortable ride and good utility.
More power (90hp was below average in 2000, and the new  ones are supposed to have 140 or so). Better quality control or reliability of ancillary parts.
Only problem was with the windows and
VW fixed those free. Inside space is
amazing, mpg 50 always. Handling is
super even in snow but low ground
clearance. Don't try to sleep in it.
Turns into mini wagon with ease. Even
better performance after a new set of
upgraded tires at 45K. Most people
don't realize it's a diesel unless I
stay in one spot too long and the
stink catches up with me. Gas station
attendants argue that I am at the
50 mpg, tight handling, good looking,
excellent interior fit and finish,
adaptable cup holders surprise
I may be getting too old for it,
thinking of more power for loaded
condition with a/c on going uphill
freeway onramp (it wasn't a pretty
picture). Also a quieter interior at
freeway speed. Nobody complains
because the economy is so unreal.
When the car is running well, it is a
joy to own and drive. When it is not,
service is difficult to get and has been
often poorly executed and very
expensive. VW has tried, at every
opportunity, and there have been
several, to avoid honoring the warranty.
Dealer service has been similarly
Nimble, comfortable and VERY thrifty in
terms of fuel efficiency.
Improve factory and dealer
responsiveness. Tell the truth about
problems. Factory and dealers need to
accept responsibility for their problems.