The stick broke free from the clutch at 345,000 miles.
The radio started only playing at full-blast volume at 352,000 miles.
One back door handle no longer works from the outside, at 340,000 miles.
The inside driver door handle snapped off at 340,000 miles.
I owned a VW Rabbit diesel for 10 years prior to my Golf. I put on 109,000 miles before it was totalled when a girl pulled out into me. I loved the Rabbit so much that I wouldn't settle for anything less than a diesel VW.
Why? Well, I'm cheap. The Golf gets about 45 miles per gallon, rarely breaks down, and we have a wonderful local VW mechanic.
We bought this car from a bargain shop that throws together title-less VWs that have been in all sorts of accidents. We bought our other VW from the same place, so we assumed that the car would require some extra help to get it running properly. We spent $1000 in repair bills getting it up to speed and very little has gone wrong with it in 3 years and 41,000 miles.
I've read that this car only has 52 horsepower, like the diesel Rabbit that I had. However, the Golf has more power and runs cleaner. Also, the Golf is a bit larger--the kids can actually fit in the back seat. I think that the diesel Golf is a big step up from the diesel Rabbit.
The diesel Golf isn't the speediest car on the block and I wouldn't recommend it for people who drive up and down steep hills frequently. Instead, I'd go for a TDI. But, it's perfect for people who live in the Midwest. I live in central Pennsylvania, where it's mostly rolling hills, with occasional steep hills. I can tolerate, but I think I'm a bit more tolerant of the lack of power than most people would be...