I love this car. My older brother gave it to me for my 16th birthday. It already had 88,000 miles on it but it still runs really well. The only thing it really needed was a new throttle body and some wheel bearings. I love the interior and it gets great gas mileage (between 29 and 33 mpg).
I purchased a GTI in 99' and it gave me nothing but problems. The car is fun to drive(needs stiffer suspension) and does have many features not available on similar priced cars; however, reliability is horrible and the cost of maintenance will make you want to kill yourself! The majority of the car is made in Brazil not Germany (shoddy workmanship)and the engine is expensive to maintain ($400+ for a tune-up and $40+ for an oil change). I spent over $6000 in two years, thank god for the extended warranty. (there's a reason Volks extended their warranty)
I've owned my '98 GTI VR6 for one year now and have loved it! When purchased it had just hit 100,000 miles but was well maintained. I have since put 40,000 more on it without the first bit of trouble. I did however have a minor accident a couple months after buying it causing me to replace some suspension components. I chose to upgrade with Bilstein struts and lowering springs. I also added an intake and chip. Even with the mods & 17" wheels I still get around 25 mpg city / hwy. I would suggest this car to any sport enthusiast. However bear in mind it is not the quietest car inside or out. So if you dont mind the occasional squeak GO FOR IT!
The VR6 makes this car so much fun to drive. The engine has a large, wonderful range of torque. It is very responsive both in the throttle and handling. The light weight makes it a joy to whip around. The fuel economy has been fabulous. I get 27-28 MPG consistently with mostly highway driving. The biggest complaint I have is in reliability. I have replaced the AC, generator (2), clutch spring, radio antenna, crankshaft position sensor, and fog lights (3). Also, the power windows stick from time to time and it burns oil. When it runs, it is a lot of fun and I am having a hard time letting it go.
This is the funnest car I have ever driven, fuel economy, looks, all round great car. I have not had any problems with her nor do I expect to! If you are looking for a fun inexpensive car that will last for a long time look no further. VW's are the best.