I bought my 2007 GTI as a CPO with about 60k on the odometer and now have about 185k. Having never owned a vehicle with a turbocharged engine I was pleased with the acceleration to say the least. Interior and trim is heads above domestic vehicles and their cheap plastic interior pieces. Bi-xenon headlamps are stellar for night driving. Manual transmission shifts smooth. I just changed the gear oil about a month ago. Seems that my switch to Motul oil may have made the shifts a little harder. I may go back to the OEM gear oil.
The car has been a gem for the most part. Only maintenance I have really done is oil, brakes, tires, timing belt (bought as a kit with water pump, pulleys and tensioner) and thermostat. Cost of parts isn't that bad either in the grand scheme of things. I will say that if you can do your own work you will be fine. VW dealerships aren't known for being cheap by any standard. I paid over $400 bucks for a simple service visit which basically consisted of an oil change and air filters (of course their multi-point inspection *rolling eyes*). Whatever it was it wasn't worth $400 bucks. I resigned myself to doing all my own maintenance and repairs after that visit. Luckily VW is supported by owners forums on the web that can basically walk you through most repairs and help diagnose problems.
I will say that despite the ridiculous repair costs at the dealership, their customer service is fantastic. For example, VW has a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty on their vehicles. I had some rust appearing on the rear hatch and decided to take it in and see if they would honor their warranty. They took pictures, sent them to VW and was informed that it may take a few weeks to get an answer. Sure enough, they honored the repair and gave me a 2015 Golf for a loaner. Not bad, not bad at all. You surely would never get an American manufacturer to warranty a rust claim on a 8-9 year old car.
In conclusion, it's been a great car for what it is. Fun, fast, handles well, great gas mileage, reliable and four doors. I'll be hard pressed to buy another domestic car after this.
I have to say, coming from a Lexus to this car, I mentally prepared myself for a host of problems and maintenance issues after hearing horror stories of people owning Volkswagens and Audis. But to my surprise, this has been the most reliable car I've ever owned. Change the oil, and the car is like brand-new again. I think that folks have issues VW's because unlike Japanese cars, you really should stick to the maintenance schedules otherwise I can imagine you have a lot of problems. This engine for example, eats oil so you really shouldn't go over the recommended oil change intervals. Having owned this car for almost 8 years now I can say that I've only had a few things go wrong with it, there was an issue VW fixed under and extended warranty for a particular part. The 90K service was the only thing I ever paid for it, but that was the only major maintenance I have ever done on this car so far. It was about $2K for that services. $2K in maintenance over almost 8 years is not bad at all...
This really is the perfect everyday car for young people or retirees without kids or for kids who have left the nest. The best thing about this car is that it is quick and responsive. The clutch travel is short and the torque means you have instant responses to input which means you can get out of tight situations in traffic, pass with ease, squeeze through cars and obstacles, take tight turns with stability and confidence, and you have enough space to carry pretty much anything in the trunk and more if you fold the seats down. The ride is rigid for sure, but refined in the same way. It's very comfortable at highway speeds, but the car seems to get a bit more frazzled as you approach the top speed the more and more you go above 115 mph or so. What I love most about this car however is that it thinks about practical things about the driver of the car and has little nuances I've never seen in American cars or Japanese luxury cars. It, for example, will automatically engage the rear window wiper when your front wipers are on and you go into reverse. This is so you can see behind you (very thoughtful). It also allows you to lock the car with the remote before closing the door so you can get your groceries out and close the door without worry about engaging the lock button with your hands full. Besides that it's got a great stereo and great xenon lights. It's such an awesome and well thought out car!
The weaknesses of this car largely have to do with it's size. Because it's light, small, and quick, it's not terribly great at being a car for all seasons and not my ideal car for the long road trip (especially if you have 1 or more passengers). The cabin space can feel cramped after a while and with me being 6'1" I can't ever get the seat low enough without seeming to stare through the top part of the windshield. Large puddles have a way or really slowing this car down and it's not that great on snow. The major weakness of this car though I would have to say is the air conditioning. On really really hot days, 90+ degree heat with 90+% humidity in the D.C. area, it never seemed to get nearly as cool as you would want it. I guess it never gets that hot in Germany... who knows? But on days like that I always wish the air conditioner was better. The heating however is immaculate, with the window open on days of 50 degrees or less, it radiates heat automatically so you never feel cold.
Having kids soon with more storage needs I kind of wish this car would start having problems, so I can have an excuse to get a larger car, but so far, it hasn't happened. It's really a great car, a masterpiece!
I bought my GTI new and it was my first car. I have loved it!!! It's been very reliable and fun to drive, as well as economical on gas, a great value. I have had no problems with the car and it has over 40,000 mi on it now. I am happy to have had this as my first car! I hope to keep it until it finally dies one day.
Engine, DSG gearbox, brakes and suspension.
Make the lumbar support for the seats better, but other than that it is very nicely built.
I bought this car new. It now has 110,000 miles on it (more highway than city) and it's been 100% reliant. All I've ever done is maintenance, oil changes, tires around 60K, brakes around 70K, a taillight. I had the a/c compressor just go out (around 95,000) and I just got the timing chain redone for piece of mind. The biggest pain really has been changing the air filter.
I have the manual and wow, it is still fun to drive 6 years later.
I've never been able to go into an automated car wash though because the design on that rear wiper is awful. It has a cheap plastic housing that is open and anything will bust it off and if that happens, when you hit the rear wiper spray you will spray a car about 30 feet behind you.