Last week I rented a 2002 Voklswagen Beetle while the Jeep was getting some work done. (My Chrysler Service Contract covered the maintenance and also $30 of the $35 VW rental.)

I was impressed by the amount of room in the Beetle. I even had some people in the back seat. Excellent utilization of passenger space. On the other hand, I thought there was a lot of wasted space on the dash. It seems there could be some use put to that expansive bit of plastic.

Speaking of plastic, I was surprised to see the body-colour moulding on the tops of the doors. Traditionally (i.e., in the olden days before the 1980s) these were metal stampings. I was a little disappointed to find that they were plastic, but I understand the ecomomics and weight saving of using non-metal materials. I did find them attractive.

Accelleration was good (certainly better than old-style Beetles I’ve riden in), but would have been better with a standard transmission. (Heh. Just try to rent a car with anything but an automatic! :frowning: ) Handling was also excellent. Not as good as my old Porsche 911SC, but much better than my Cherokee.

Before I bought the Cherokee I considered a VW Jetta. I’ve always liked its cavernous trunk. But when I started noticing Jettas on the road, it seemed they didn’t age very well. They just seemed a bit “run down”. This is probably a function of the way the owners treat them (which begs the question, “Do people who buy Jettas take poorer care of their cars than people who buy other marques?”). I’ve owned two German cars: A 1977 1/2 Porsche 924 and a 1979 Porsche 911SC. Even though most people hate the supposed-to-be-VW-but-might-have-been-an-Audi-but-became-a-Porsche 924, I rather liked it. It was much more “solid” than my MGBs. It handled better and was faster. The 911 was just an absolute blast! But as I’ve said in other threads, I needed more space. I miss that car sometimes. The thing I noticed about both Porsches was that they tended to have expensive problems as they aged. Little things would go wrong, especially with switches and levers. Other German cars I’ve ridden in, Mercedes and BMWs, also seemed to develop problems with their interior controls. My personal experiences with various problems, plus the run-down Jettas I saw on the road made me choose another vehicle.

This thread (26 pages as I write this :eek: ) mentions some maintenance issues that were escalated to the filing of a lawsuit against the customer by the dealer. It got me wondering about the durability of the VW line. So…

Post-air-cooled Volkswagen drivers, what are your impressions of the Volkswagen product? If I were to buy a new Beetle, what kind of problems should I expect. Do you think quality is high, low, or somewhere in between? I firmly believe that Honda and Toyota make higher-quality vehicles that are more durable. Is my belief correct? Would you recommend a Volkswagen to your friends or family? Over a Toyota or Honda? If so, why? If you have problems with your VW, do you blame the design? Maintenance? Something else? Do you need to make apollogies for the design/maintenance issues? (e.g., “Well, you have to understand that German engineering is…” or “I’m sure these things happen to all cars…”)

I drive a 1989 VW Cabriolet, 240,000 miles on it, no major problems, no real minor ones, although as we speak it is in the shop getting a gasket replaced. It runs like a watch. I’ve owned 3 other VWs in my life and had similar experiences with all of them. Japanese cars? G’won, kid, geddoutta here, you’re bothering me. :wink:

I owned a 1985 Jetta - which was made during what many consider to be VW’s worst quality period - and put 273,000 miles on it before selling it to a co-worker (still had the original tranny & clutch, BTW), whose kid probably put another 30,000 on it before it was put out to pasture. If you believe what Consumer Reports says, my car way outlived its life expectancy, so I either had an anomaly or was just more sensitive to its quirks/needs than most, I dunno. But, yeah, it was great fun to see that “you have such a little car - where did all that trunk come from?” expression on people’s faces.

VW’s quality reputation has definitely gotten much better within the last 5 years or so - so much so that now even CR, which seems to worhip at the altar of the Accord and Camry, acknowledge the Jetta as being good cars.

I drive an Audi now, so I’m still happy enough to stay within the VW family - BTW, you should try the Beetle with the 1.8L turbo engine. Vroom!

I haven’t driven a new generation Beetle. Haven’t even ridden in one either, for that matter, but the consensus amongst people I know who have is that they are good cars, but overpriced, ie. the same money will get you a better Japanese car, but by the Beetle if you like the badge and styling. Actually, this is the same reason I prefer Toyotas over Hondas. Call me boring and suburban, but I want reliability, dammit! Styling comes second.

The Beetle certainly looks good though.

Er,… that’s “buy” not “by”.

Feh. You already worked that out.

As I’ve said before, I learned to drive a standard trasmission in my dad’s 8-year-old diesel Rabbit. He bought the '79 off the showroom floor after his used Fiat died nearby. My parents drive pretty much everywhere they go, between them and my sister driving all her friends around, when the Rabbit was sold in '88 it had travelled over 750,000 miles. To my knowledge, the car had no major mechanical problems until a tour bus hit the front left fender while Dad was at work. All sorts of things started going wrong after that. I’m sure that if it wasn’t for that bus, Dad wouldn’t have had made a bad situation worse by pulling out the entire dash in an attempt to fix a bad indicator circuit. I probably would have ended up getting a job so I could pay my own insurance just to be able to drive the Rabbit for as long as it lasted.

We had a 1986 Jetta Diesel - loved that car!!! But we weren’t as diligent about preventive maintenance as we should have been, and we got rid of it at 157K miles.

We have a 2001 Diesel Beetle - EXCELLENT vehicle. Actually, it’s going to be our daughter’s car when she goes to college in 2 years. Meanwhile, we’re all driving it. I’m inclined to get another when we send her off in this one. I don’t like sitting in the back seat because I always manage to bonk my head, but apart from that, I love the car. And I hate cars…

When my van dies, I’ve thinking I want a Jetta wagon. I’d get one now, but I’m enjoying the no-car-payment-for-a-while…

I drive a 2000 Beetle. Absolutely no problems whatsoever. My only complaint is that it is difficult to change the oil. I’m unsure of the details, but it requires the removal of another piece of the engine to access the oil filter. So, I’ve had to take it to the dealer to get this done. And they only do it every 5000 miles, so if you’re in the every-3000 mile club, there might be a problem. I had a two year warranty and that covered the oil changing, so that’s a plus, but it is such an ordeal to have to have someone else do simple maintenance.

Also, the way things are constructed in the engine, it is hard to do other rudimentary service. I got a new battery and it took them about 2 hours to figure out how to get the old one out and the new one in. This was at one of those battery/brakes/tires places, not the dealer.

But kids love it.

I love, love, love my 1995 VW Golf. I bought it used almost 3 years ago (it’ll me mine in May!), and am the second owner.

I’ve had a few problems with it, but none of them major until recently. I had a run-in with the lock cylinder on my driver’s side door a year ago; the cylinder snapped off and I couldn’t open the driver’s side door, but it had automatic locks so I’d just open the passenger side then get in the driver’s side. This summer, the driver’s side did the same thing, effectively locking me out of my car, and after doing some digging online, I found this is a not-too-uncommon problem with VW’s.

Just this past week, I had to bring it in to have the radiator replaced, as there was a leak in it. It’s also got a problem with the transmission whereby it doesn’t shift very well; it likes to be in overdrive, and struggles in any other gear (it’s a 5 speed automatic), but that’s something they can easily fix, once I get the money.

Oh, another problem I had with it–there was an electrical problem of some sort, and they had to take the steering column apart to fix it. The car would just die while driving. Scary stuff. I’d have to “reboot” it–throw it into neutral, restart it, then throw it into drive and keep going.

Ok, so looking back, it’s had a few problems. But it’s not a new car, and compared to cars that friends have had that were newer, my problems are definitely not excessive. Keep in mind, this car has driven cross-country twice this year, once in the dead of winter and snow, once in 112 degree summer heat cross the desert. Other than routine maintenance (which I really slacked on this past year) such as oil changes every 3-ish months, I haven’t done too much to keep it running. It’s got 115,000+ miles on it.

My parents just leased a 2002 Jetta, and I lust after that. I don’t like the interior–the lights are a demonic red and blue, and it’s kinda cold looking. But it handles well and has a great suspension, which my car kinda lacks.

So I guess what it boils down to is that I have an irrational love for my car, cuz it’s the first thing that I ever bought for me when I graduated college, thus, making me “an adult”. ;)It’s mine, it fits me, and it gets me where I need to go reliably. My biggest complaint is that I can’t fit my coffee cups in the cupholder cuz they’re right under the instrument panel!

Had a VW Golf GTI once. Ran great, a blast to drive, best factory seats ever – Recaro – roomy interior belied exterior. Problems? None whatsover until it was stolen roughly thirty days after purchase :frowning:

And so endeth my VW experience. Better luck with yours.

I have a 2000 VW Jetta and I love it. It’s diesel and gets excellent gas mileage. It’s a 4 cylinder turbo and it zips. We’ve had it for almost two years and it’s been a great car. With the proper servicing at a place other than Jim Ellis and an occasional washing, it should last a long time.


oooooo an excuse to go on and on and on about my car. I drive a 2000 Golf 1.8T black 4 door. You cant find a faster car for 19grand. You drove an auto 2.0L I’m sure. The 1.8T coupled with the 5 spd makes my car a true sleeper. It’s as fast to 60 as my 87 Mazda Rx7 TurboII, nowhere near as fast above that though. I dust the little “ricer” cars almost always. There is a BUTT ton of room in the golfs. The back seats can be a little cramped but its that way on most small cars. The standard feature list looks like it came off the sticker of a Lexus. AC,power locks and windows, traction control, heated side mirrors, side air bags, 8 speaker stereo cassette(mines yanked for an Aiwa Mp3/cd player but the speakers aint bad) and more I’m sure. The problem the guy with the lawsuit had were small problems, his dealer just screwed him (jim elis in atlanta). I’ve had nothing major wrong with mine in the year I’ve had it. I drove most all of the small cars before I got the Golf, civics, protege(good cars as well), sentra(utter BLAH and they used to be cool) and NONE of them for the price could come close to the VW in power. The civics and corrollas(sp?) maybe a little better in the durability department, I for one dont know. If you want a car that looks normal but is quick, you can’t go wrong with a Jetta/Golf/Beattle (there all the same car underneath). The 1.8T motor was codesigned by Audi and VW and you will find it base A4’s and TT’s. It’s a small turbo so lag is basically nonexistant. It feels like a small 6cyl. With decent gas milage, I get mid to high 20’s around town and I drive like a mainiac. Mid 30’s on the highway. The cops dont notice you like they would in an eclipse or celica. Of course my friends do make fun of my car sometimes but I love hatchbacks. Test drive a 1.8T with a 5spd and you WILL be impressed. Ok, I’ve said to much. If you have any questions, ask away or email.

I bought a used mid-80’s Vanagon.

I’m still emotionally scarred by the experience…

Interestingly, my best fiend has a mid-'80s Vanagon. He loves it. I like riding in it, but I did notice some things about it: The moulding on the slidindg door stuck out a little making it a bit of an operation openning the door. Some of the interior controls don’t work (what is it with every used German car I’ve been in?). The side-view mirrors sort of flop around. Last summer the a/c control was somehow turned on. The a/c doesn’t work, and who needs in in northern Washington anyway? The engine would let out ungodly squeels periodically and I suggested to my fiend that he might try some belt dressing or better yet, get new belts. We didn’t know the a/c had been turned on, but he did notice a fan sound coming from up front. After a few days he figured out that the never-used knob was on. He switched it off and the Vanagon was quiet again. (Not that it matters, but the a/c still isn’t fixed.)

For some reason, inoperative interior controls bug me. The sliding door was a pain, until he took the problem moulding off. Aside from those, the mirrors, and the a/c, the Vanagon seems to work very well. It’s certainly better than the 1972 VW Van he had (the sliding door would fall off, it had no power, and it had engine problems) and the view out of the windscreen always amazes me when my friend is maneuvering in tight quarters. Although the finish has faded and the interior is a bit run down (but only a bit), I really dig his Vanagon.

Anyone drive a Eurovan? How are they?

The 1.9 diesel turbo is brobably the best automotive diesel out there; the emissions, response, and lack of diesel chatter places the engine on par with that of a naturally aspirated gas engine of similar displacement.

The 1.8 20 valve turbo in the GTI absolutely SMOKES the other cars out there!

I used to have a 1982 Diesel Jetta which went on and on and on until 1987 when I decided that I needed a “better” car… Driving a non-turbo diesel up and down the hills of San Fran was NOT fun.

Bought a Honda CRV and contrary to what I had always heard about how great Hondas are, I thought the quality was really poor… Lousy seats, lousy mileage, lots of little problems, and things that weren’t thought out well when it was designed… Parts broke and fell off inside within months, the rail holding the seat to the floor broke, and it supposedly had a center armrest that might have worked if you were 3’ 6"…

So about a month ago I bought a Turbo Diesel New Beetle… This car ROCKS!

Would have bought a manual if they had had one available at the dealership, but got an automatic… Great mileage (about 34/44), fun to drive, lots of great stuff you wouldn’t expect on a car for under $20,000… The handling on this thing is what you’d expect from a much more expensive car.

And I’m also amazed at the acceleration… If I’m on the freeway and need to pass, I can get to 90 smoothly, quickly and the engine isn’t barely trying yet… (OK, so I know I shouldn’t be going 90, but I wanted to try it out…)


Oops… Make that 1997 when I got rid of the Jetta…


I learned to drive in the 70’s on a beetle, and owned three of them. Never driven any recent VW products but totally rebuilt two air-cooled VW engines over the years. John Muir’s “How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive” was and is THE definitive manual for air-cooled VW’s.
Last Super Beetle I owned had been rewired by some dolt with zip cord, which melted against the crankcase and caused a fire. Burned up the engine before I could get out the extinguisher. I shoulda known better.