1996 Volkswagen Golf CL 1.9 diesel
A great car. Too bad the odometer resets at 300,000 KM!
Fitted a new exhaust at 197,000 KM.
Rear shocks needed replacement at 225,000 KM.
Glow plug relay died at 225,000 KM. Replaced it with a used one, which is still working fine.
I bought this little gem from my grandfather-in-law, who got it new in 1996. It came with full service history and has been looked after very well, which is obvious at a glance. The body work is in excellent condition and the engine does not use a single drop of oil. The gearbox has no play and shifts very smoothly. Very occasionally I get this grinding sensation (and sound) as I shift from first to second. I don't know what it is but it happens very rarely, so I don't mind for the time being.
The car feels solid and sturdy. It sticks to the road and its soft suspension makes for a comfortable ride. The MKIII Golf is significantly heavier than the MKII, but the 1.9 diesel engine is powerful enough for me to keep up with traffic. Then again, I've got a rather easy-going driving style and opinions about performance may vary. On highways I cruise at about 2,300 RPM in fifth gear, which means at a speed of 95 KM/H. Anyhow, the car feels like it will run forever, which makes it more than adequate for long journeys.
Another beautiful thing about this car is how little fuel it needs. On average, one tank of diesel gets me as far as 1,000 kilometres. When my girlfriend and I went on a trip to Paris, one tank lasted for 1,140 KM!
When winter knocks on the door and the roads are covered in fresh snow, the fun is not over at all. The FWD Golf handles amazingly well on snowy roads and even hills won't stop it.
The layout of the dashboard is simple and the controls are intuitive. The Golf's roomy interior offers great comfort and, if you put the back seats down, plenty of space for luggage or furniture. Looking at the interior, the only complaint I can actually think of is that the seats don't offer enough support, which can be annoying if you have been driving for a few hours.
I personally don't like the look of most modern cars. Originally I intended to buy an MKII as I think it's the most beautiful of all Golfs (inside and out), but when my grandfather-in-law offered his immaculate MKIII for sale I couldn't resist.
Although I prefer the MKII from an aesthetic point of view, I still like the MKIII model and to me it's the last 'real' classic Golf. I don't regret buying it at all. The car has never ever left me stranded and always starts first time whatever the weather. It's as reliable as a car can get, and it's cheap to insure, cheap to run, and fun to drive!
It's a shame the MKIII odometers reset to 0 after 299,000 KM, which is only the break-in period if you ask me.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 7th June, 2009