Trim around door pulls and window switches peeled away.
Large metal spring fell off front seats.
Radio volume knob has lost some shape (seems to have melted a bit).
Fabric on rear door panel coming loose.
Paint faded on roof.
My 2002 Jetta has been mechanically flawless. The first 3 years of ownership I was very conscious about having regular service done on the vehicle. However, other than oil changes, I haven't had any services done in the last 2 years. Despite that, I have had no mechanical issues with the car.
I purchased the car in 2004 and the transmission has always made "winding" sound at certain speeds, but I have had no problems with it.
Although, VW interiors have an upscale look and feel, they need to improve the materials used on the door pulls and radio. I have noticed that even on the current generation Jetta, the black peels off of the radio preset buttons.
I have considered other vehicles, like Mazda 3s and Civic Si, but their interiors have a noticeably downmarket feel to the VW. On the VW, the colors and textures are richer in appearance; the feel of things like the door panels and sun visors are a class ahead of other compact cars. To me the difference is a $22-24k Civic or Mazda 3 still has the interior of a $16k car. The Jetta is a poor man's BMW or Merc. Having driven a German car for the last 6 years, I don't think I could go back to a Japanese brand.