Absolute terrible vehicle. I decided to try moving from reliable Japanese cars I had owned previously, and give Volkswagen a chance, having heard good things about them (in hindsight heard these positives from "non car people"). I thought Germany had a reputation for good solid reliable engineering, and was quite taken in by the figures... 50 MPG in a 130 BHP car with lots of torque... very appealing.
The car is an absolute disaster area, and it's not a case I bought a lemon; every fault it has had, I have researched, and they are all well known common faults, caused by very bad design. Shame on you VW engineers, you are a disgrace to your profession.
The positives about the car... I think the look and image is quite okay, the handling is reasonably "safe", the brakes are strong, and the interior would be a nice place to be, if you could enjoy it and not worry what the next fault is that it will present to you.
Now the negatives...
Clutch and flywheel... I can accept wear and tear on a clutch... but a flywheel? A flywheel is meant to be a solid piece of metal, however VW see it fit to make it a more complex part... and apparently this is to do with the delivery of the massive torque... that is nonsense, surely there are lots of cars new and old, with even more torque, and they don't require such a flimsy flywheel. Poor engineering, designed to fail in order for VW get more of your money.
Window clips... plastic... other manufacturers use metal... the result, open the window, slam your door shut, the clips will break. This then requires an expensive replacement from VW, and the replacements are metal? VW... why not fit metal ones in the first place, the answer is of course poor engineering, and to force your customers to spend more money.
Cooling system, such a delicate engine that you can't even add normal water, it has to be special VW water at a cost comparable with diesel. The effect of not using special water... the system corrodes, the water pump with its plastic impeller breaks due to all the sludge, and the water in the engine boils as it isn't circulating. You will have no idea this is happening as the temperature sensor is situated where the engine is not so hot, so your temp needle looks fine. The first you will know is no heat from the interior heating. You could end up with a head gasket problem, ruined engine, or a blocked heater matrix... which again thanks to the most awesome engineers at VW, is a dashboard out job.
Injector wiring loom... when this fails the car runs as though it's not on all cylinders, which can be mistaken for an injector fault. This is an expensive part, it is basically wiring... and again VW engineers see it fit to put this electrical wiring actually inside the engine (???) where it is hot and oily, and hard to access.
Turbo... this goes into limp mode for fun, and does it under different conditions and loads, sometimes behaving, sometimes not... making it very hard to diagnose. Check this on Google, there is a wealth of information out there about this problem, and a great many causes, most of them quite expensive. Do the same search for any other manufacturer and there is nowhere near the same number of search results; this in itself tells us what a poor job VW have done. Buy a VW TDI, then try and trade it in; pretty much the first question will be does it go into limp mode?
Wipers... linkage seized up, motor burnt out, a common fault. Apparently the design allows water to penetrate, and the linkage is made from a material which corrodes and is prone to seize... again VW engineers, shame on you.
It is such a shame that there are so many faults with this car, as it had the potential to live up to all the hype of reliability.
My suggestion if anyone from VW is reading this... pay Honda some money to send over some proper engineers to test your vehicles, before releasing such shoddy products on an unsuspecting public.