I've owned my VW Passat since new, eleven years, and 253,800 miles. That should be enough said. If it wasn't fun to drive, I wouldn't have kept it that long. I kept good care of it, and it didn't let me down until it got to be 10 years old. On the road, I would get a consistent 35 MPG, and only occasionally down to 27 MPG in the city.
If the timing belt snaps say goodbye to your valves / cylinder head. My Passat had chronic mechanical problems. It seems like there is a repair needed every month. The transmision operation is not smooth and sluggish to shift. It rides like a horse drawn wagon. Repairs and parts are expensive. The engine will not start when the it is hot unless you use high octane fuel only - the dealership seems inept at finding solutions to problems. They have you replace sensor after sensor at great expense and still problems persist.
I drove VW cars (with good results) for 10 years prior to buying a new 1992 Passat. This car had more problems than every other car I have ever owned -- combined! One expensive repair after another. Premature failure of: power windows, sunroof, fuel pump, battery, clutch, exhaust, and head gasket. All except the sunroof was out-of-warranty (at Pentagon prices, of course). Every month it was another ($500) trip to the dealer. This car barely outlived the loan. Eventually I realized that I was paying for a new car without actually driving one, so I traded in the Passat for a non-VW car.
Bought the car for $800 = lots of margin for repair costs. 190K mi when bought 194K miles now. Avg 39mpg, hi 42, low 23 (teaching son to drive std). Total expenses to date (purchase, tax, title, tags, fuel and repairs): $1925. Some body rust showing. Heater core went - replacement is MAJOR undertaking. Some electrical glitches (smack the dash in the right place to make things work). Sunroof issues. Headliner fabric came loose (removed it & painted the liner with textured flocking). Picked up car in sub-freezing temperatures in January, drove nonstop from eastern PA to north central IL, averaged 525 miles to 16 gallon fill-up @85mph. Would drive this car anywhere for the next 100K mi or so.
A 1992 is not a reliable car. I felt in love with the car due to its handling, excellent!. But it made a big dent on my wallet. Oil leaks, serious problems with the cooling system, the heating system, the dash board malfunction, the air conditioning system collapsed, the powered windows went Kaput!. Do not even considered to get this model. I still wander Why I had kept it this long? Not reliable at all, very expensive parts, not every mechanic knows how to work on it. Get a good manual and special tools to change parts, or take it to the VW dealer to get it fix.