This is my first VW. I chose the Jetta because of the optional 1.9L TDI Diesel powerplant. I commute 70 miles daily and I was looking for a way to save some cash. I got what I expected. My previous car drank 89 octane fuel and at best got 26 mpg. I'm not spending any more on diesel fuel and the savings are there. Despite its 90hp rating the Jetta is a kick to drive. The turbocharger delivers when you step on the "gas".
I bought my 02 Jetta new from the dealer and put 263,000 miles on it. The Good: I fell in love with gas mileage..700 miles to a tank. This was my first import car and the handling was awesome. I traveled from Washington to N. California and never broke down. The most comfortable seat I have ever sat in... maybe because I spent all my time in this car, it was custom fit to me. The resale value of this car only took me 24 hours to sell. The Bad: The cost of maintenance on the TDI was enough to drive you mad. $500 every time they had to look at the car. I had some check engine lights come on after 30k, 60k and 90k. Burned through countless o2 sensors.
I love my car. It's powerful, fun, and efficient. It has 230k miles and I still love it. Only had the timing chain replaced and the glow plugs replaced and it's still running strong. About 40 mpg going 80 mph on the highway.
I'm going on 316K miles with this car and averaged over 53 mpg on my last tank of fuel. Yes, there are flaws in the interior design (cup holders in particular) and yes, it's difficult to perform maintenance on it sometimes but how can you find fault with a car that is so reliable? Oil changes every 10K, timing belt every 80K and everything else like brakes, tires, filters, etc., are done simply as req'd. I've had the clutch, water pump and other components each replaced once but this engine is a beast. Maintenance is certainly more expensive when required but fortunately, I have a local (non-dealer) repair shop that specializes on German cars and that helps keep the bill down.