The 4 door 1.8T Golf is a great sleeper. It's fun to drive and hauls a lot of stuff. It's one of the best cars I have owned. It has had no major problems in over 60,000 miles of service. If you can find one, buy it. The 4-door 1.8T was only made between late 2000 and early 2001.
I think the VW Golf is the best compact model in its class. Maybe the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are better than the Golf at a few points like fuel economy and build quality, but the Golf is much better in driving, gearing and performance.
The Volkswagen Golf is average overall, with a below average electrical system and well designed, but a poorly built engine. Given the multitude of small (window motor, sunroof malfunctions) and not very small (side airbag misfire, engine sensors malfunction, 80,000 mile timing belt wear-off) defects, you are better served by getting a Lexus or a Mazda.
This is my third Volkswagen and I love the little things you get with a VW. these nice touches include the spring loaded grab handles, soft to the touch dash boards, turn signal side indicators, sunroofs with a dial, 8 speaker sound systems, upscale dash lighting, heated seats, cool key, etc etc..
Cabin space is well thought out. Monsoon stereo, handling, tight fittings, quiet at highway speeds - no rattling.
My two previous VW's had head light bulbs burn out. Update the front end and a little more horsepower in the 2.0 litre.
My wife lovesthe VW Golf, which is good because I just sort of like it. It's the perfect size for her and she loves the way it drives, but I wish that we had gotten the turbo. Some things seem very weak, even fragile, like the door handles and cup holders. The important things though are solid, like the steering and brakes.
Monsoon sound system is great.
I hate the stupid door locks. The back doors and hatch lock automatically when you close them, then you have to dig out the keys or schlep all the way back to the front door to hit the button. I also wish that I could disable the auto-lock at 10 mph.