My GTI has been an excellent combination of luxury, performance and prestige with quality that shames almost all modern hatches, including the Mk5 Golf.
I bought it in 2008 and it had only traveled about 60,000 kms - it was literally the best one I could find. The car has been babied and it loves me back!
You've got to keep an eye on the timing belt and water pump, but apart from that these are reliable little gadgets with plenty of grip and go.
If you don't believe me, just look at all the fan sites and forums full of MK4 GTI owners. This comes in handy if anything goes wrong with the car too, as there are plenty of people who know how to sort the car out.
Performance-wise it's no WRX, but then again that's part of the appeal. In Australia the GTI is bought by people who want something a bit stealthy and different, but still quick. Put it this way, you won't get car-jacked (unlike a WRX), and if someone tried you could scoot away without drama.
If you need it to go faster, you can chip it for $1500 or so and have 150kw (200+hp) There's plenty more tuning options available if you want to go even faster.
Some will say it's not as focused as a GTI6 or EVO, but I disagree. This is a machine that has been finely tuned, not as a track weapon for The Stig to thrash about in, but a comfortable, livable everyday car that's a bit different from the norm.
The rRecaro cloth seats are supportive and massively adjustable. The digital climate control was a treat.
0-100 and lap times are important if you're 15 or live in a fantasy world. This is a car that's as impressive driving to the shops at 50km/h as it is on a winding mountain pass.
The ride and handling balance is superb, if a little on the soft side - not such a bad thing on Australia's terrible roads.
I love my GTI. Literally everyone that's seen it can't believe the condition it's in and its quality in general.
But like my line at the start says, it's worth being patient and waiting to find the right gal before sealing the deal.
After that you've got to service it (the car, boys, settle down) regularly and be attentive to troubles so that the relationship doesn't end in disaster.
The 2001 GTI scores 8/10 for me.
+ Excellent quality, comfort, image
- Parts expensive, could be quicker