Bought this car new in 2002 after 14 great years with a Jetta. I've now had 15 years with it and at 138,000 miles, it's still in pretty good shape despite my carelessness. I have hauled too much landscaping material and broke the springs driving over potholes. Replaced the full set of tires twice but have not replaced the brakes or any other costly items. There is some rust on the body around the wheels - cost of living in a wintery environment and not washing it enough. This car has FWD and has performed well when the snow is less than 5 inches on the road. Fun to drive - lots of pep and handles corners well. Tight turning radius very helpful for u-turns. Good gas mileage. I'm spoiled. This car has more bells/whistles than the Jetta did. It's too smart as it locks itself at 5 mph or within a few minutes of me parking. Bluetooth and navigation systems were invented after I bought this car; no loss to me. It's comfortable for me to drive in the city, as I am short, but cramped for long drives and hard for passengers with long legs/big feet to get in/out. I've been happy with the dealer maintenance but VW is expensive. They have given me some work arounds as VW will now fix your car with non-VW parts if you ask.
I realize we made a bad decision buying this car without having our mechanic look at it. We bought it with 135,000 miles and drove it for a year. It chugged oil with no visible leaks. In the 12 months we replaced the key/ignition $300, both headlights $20 each, transmission $2200, wheel bearing $300, tires $1000, 1 of the alignment control bars $150, dipstick tube $45, and AC compressor $900. It failed emissions after all this and then a lady ran a red light and totalled it for us. Thank you lady. Put the thing out of its misery.
I got a 2002 GLS this month, and I am extremely happy about it. I looked at Mazda Protege 5, Hyundai and Ford Focus. I purchased the car primarily for long weekend trips. Here is why the car is the best choice: 1.Cheapest Insurance rate 2.Good Power 3. Superior features for its price point (none of the competitors have 6 airbags, abs, power everything, immobilizer, anti theft and day time running lights)4.Low depreciation 5.V. Large trunk (larger than Jettas) and you can haul everything when you put the seats down. 6.Increasing popularity (sales increasing)7.Safest car in its class My advise, test drive all the competitors and see for yourself.
I bought this VW for quality German engineering. My mistake. It had chronic (monsoon) radio/cd problems which are expensive to repair. Front door windows fell out but were covered by mfr recall. Transmission went out twice (112,000 and 128,000 miles). It cost $4500 and VW America would not help with either transmission. Even the wheel logos are poorly installed and fall out at $40 each. Cup holders completely block access to stereo while in use. Black velour seats tend to hold lots of lint and dirt. Looking forward to selling this car and buying a Japanese or American car.