2002 Volkswagen Golf GT TDi 130 1.9 turbo diesel 130PS from UK and Ireland


The jury is still out


Intermittent fault with central locking not opening the drivers door.

Several dash warning lights started glowing dimly at night when reverse gear was engaged.

Air leak from turbo pipework caused dire performance for a short while.

General Comments:

Bought this car to replace my 6 year old, 130,000 mile 306 D-Turbo which I'd owned from new and enjoyed right to the end.

Performance superb, although doesn't feel 40 bhp up on the Peugeot. Maybe because the Golf is such a heavy car. Economy is slightly worse than the 306 -averages 44 mpg which although way ahead of a petrol car with similar performance, is down on the Pug's 48 mpg average. But it is a quicker car. That said, the six speed 'box is a gimmick and unnecessary on an engine with this much torque at such low revs.

Interior gorgeous - Recaros, blue dials, quality plastics. The best bit of the car. It's soothing and feels classier than any of its rivals.

Handles tidily although the 306 was a lot more fun. The sports suspension on the GT model does make it a lot better than an ordinary Golf, but it's average at best. Steering is awful - the worst bit of the car.

Reliability is OK, but I expected better from a car of this price, mileage and apparent quality. The 306's first "non service" problem was glowplug failure at 74,000 miles. The Golf's first was an electrical fault in the central locking at 31,000. A bit of a disappointment to be honest with you.

Dealers are pretty dire. Tried three now and all seem to struggle to diagnose problems, and become very offhand if you dare to question their decision to release a car back to you with the fault still present, or even worse, ask for a courtesy car.

A beautiful car to drive, but I am questioning the wisdom of choosing the car when I think of the problems/poor dealers combined with the fact that all its rivals can be had for thousands less.

I'm giving it another six months.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 8th November, 2003

7th Jun 2005, 10:49

Update on review (Jun 2005).

The car was part exchanged six weeks ago for a new Focus Zetec 2.0 TDCi 136.

The Golf's reliability niggles continued right up until it went. In addition to the faults listed above, the following went wrong during 2004 and early 2005:

Water leak in base of windscreen (this was a "dash out" job to fix which then caused several new rattles).

Heater matrix developed a weep causing a "curry" smell inside the car. The dealer fixed the problem first time, but by then the hot coolant had soaked into the carpet and the smell never really went away afterwards.

The (expensive optional) electric sunroof stuck in the open position and required dealer attention.

Two glowplugs died during the snowy weather in February this year, and the car became a pig to start.

Rear washer hose leaked into the headlining and marked it.

Despite quality that can only be described as a joke, the car still held an excellent trade in value, even with 92,000 miles on the clock. However the new Focus is a far superior product in every way as you would expect from a much newer car. Better finished, quicker, nicer inside, much more fun to drive, and much more refined. The only area the Golf matches it is in economy (beats it slightly in fact).

All things considered, I doubt I would seriously contemplate owning a VW product again. The residual values are great, but the initial investment is just way over the top for such an average product. Service and parts costs are little short of criminal too. The major cambelt service cost £535 (the same service on a friend's Lotus Elise at a main agent was nearly £100 less!) and when a stone clumped the headlamp and broke it, I was robbed to the tune of £130 for a replacement. Looking through some sample parts and service prices for the Focus, the saving is between 15% and 40%!

Maybe VW's were the epitome of quality and reliability at one point, but on the evidence of this 2002 VW Golf TDI 130, those days are long gone. However the premium purchase and running costs remain which surely constitutes a seriously poor deal. Unless my experience was thoroughly untypical (other reviews on here suggest not), I can only recommend these cars are best avoided.

2002 Volkswagen Golf GLS 2.0L from North America


A fun-to-drive compact that tries so hard to be a sports car


The Driver's inside door handle has a thin rubber coating on it that peels away after a few months.

A water leak on the passenger side floor was traced back to the drainage tubes for the moon roof. The carpets were replaced after many weeks of haggling the dealer (Princeton, NJ - Don't recommend them).

The car seems to use a lot of oil... dealer says this is normal. There are no leaks, there are no signs of significant burn off either.

General Comments:

All in all I love the car. I just don't like the dealership that conducts the service. The dealer is in Princeton, NJ on route 206. It takes weeks to get an appointment, they almost never have jobs done the same day, and then they try to charge you for a loaner car. It's a bit shady. I must say that when the work does get done, it is done well. The problems seem to be with the management staff and not the actual technicians in the shop.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 14th October, 2003