Good little car, decent power for its age and I can get 32mpg on highway road trips. You must know how to repair vehicles or you will spend lots of money for someone else too. Parts are not that expensive if you get them from a reputable online vendor and are usually pretty easy to fix just time consuming. Interior is designed well and has held up alright throughout the years. Handles OK for having a beam rear end. The vr6 is a stout engine but you will spend some money on timing chain parts and coolant pieces depending on age. Manual transmission and original clutch still feel good at 175k. Plenty of room in the hatch but backseats are pretty cramped for any long drives, haul my kayak on the roof frequently. Rust proofing is very good with the exception of the front fenders, these usually rust out on northern mkiv cars. Besides rock chips on front and some minor scratches from scuffs/bumps the paint still shines up nice. If you've got a decent toolset and mechanical knowledge you could easily drive one of these 250k+.
I bought my MKIV almost a year ago, and cannot sell it to any offer. Between its peppy engine and reliability, I love it. The 1.8t has been nothing but good news, but be warned..Know how to drive and maintain these cars or you will have issues. I put 40k on it in the past year for work and school, going 100+ on most highway journeys, bringing it to 236k. Besides the belt changes done by the previous owner, it's needed very little work. No oil leaks or power loss, or tranny problems yet. The trannys usually cant pass 150k but I guess im lucky. A con is the materials used in the interior. Headliner falling, door panel upholstery falling off, and finish fade. Numerous modifications available
Driver's seat adjustability, numerous features, dash ilumination colors, asr, two sets of fog lights (get a euro switch and you'll find out the second set), flip-out key, heated mirrors, cup holder design I guess, and monsoon sound system
CEL ligh never turns off, all four of my struts failed (wanted coil overs
anyways, restrictive airflow for turbo, TIMING BELT issues prominant in many, many models, any where there was glue.. it gave up holding, front cab storage space
I have wanted an MKIV since they came out. I bought a 2000 in 2012 and was in a total collision 3 weeks later. The other girl went to the hospital I walked away without a scratch. As a former mechanic and mobile electronic technician I can tell you the build quality on this car is amazing. It is extremely safe. The only drawback to the car can be the cost of parts. This is one place where is does not pay to cut corners. There are a huge number of aftermarket companies out there that make replacement parts but when they charge $35 for a part that VW charges $350 there is a reason. With this car you basically get an AUDI in a VW wrapper. Most of the parts are interchangeable.
Definitely the powertrain on the car. The car is very peppy and handles wonderfully however you can still get 30 mpg with careful driving. It is also very safe. While it may not have many of the safety features that a new car does, the performance of the car will keep you out of a lot of accidents (If you know how to properly drive). If you are in an accident it is extremely safe. Most cars have the outer door skin and then an interior door panel. The VW has a metal panel between the outside and inside panel. VERY SAFE.
There are some items that VW should have recalled and never did. For example the coil pack on this car is prone to failure. VW never issued a recall and to get a decent replacement product it is going to set you back $350+ just in parts. Also the car electronics are temperature sensitive. I have noticed that my trip computer does not like to work when it is extremely cold and then when it gets really warm the LED display becomes hard to read. Also there are some minor things such as the gear for the sunroof is prone to stripping (which makes closing it even manually impossible). the electric window regulator is a nightmare and an expensive fix because it is overly complicated.
Honestly I can say owning the VW GTI VR6 was nothing short of a nightmare.
I had purchased the top of the line 2001 in 2011 GLX with less then 140,000 kilometers and was the third owner. Over the span of one year it coast me half its value in repairs for parts that are literally prone to failure. Volkswagen knows this but makes no attempt to fix it, simply Google coil-pack failures for the mk4.
As a car it is fun to drive its fun. However its heavy slow and antiquated. The whole VR6 thing is overrated till you hit the highway and the bulk of my driving was city so its a pig on gas, changing the oil is at least a 100 dollar job if you do it right and go full synthetic.
Ill start with the positives the car is fun looks good and is made from quality materials. Mine was even assembled in Germany so the whole Mexican/Brazil assembly argument is moot.
Cargo space is phenomenal this thing hauls a massive amount of stuff. I was also T-boned by a Jeep and the first thing I said upon looking at the damage was strong car, in other words it is safe.
I am sorry if something isnt reliable it is not a good car it is a piece of crap, if it cant hold its own for 3-4 months out of the year without going into the shop its waste of space time and your money no matter how you look at it.
Anyone who is telling you VW is reliable is misleading Google Toyota or Honda in the bulk of reviews from legit to average consumers these companies gain top marks for reliability. Volkswagen doesnt have the same reputation.
If you have the money to spare and are not a 20 something college student paying his own way in life and dont mind sinking some serious cash to spruce up this car then this cars for you.