2003 Volkswagen Golf S 1.6 petrol 4 from Australia and New Zealand


Disastrous. I don't know how they sleep at night


From the two I had.

Car One:

Constant faults with the drive-by-wire throttle system. Dealer had no idea what was wrong with it so they claimed to have replaced:

Throttle body (lubricated once-this lasted about 20km, replaced three times)

Pedal box (twice)

ECU (twice)

Engine bay wiring.

This fault, where the car went in to limp home mode, resulted in a massive loss of power, uncontrollable revving of the motor and on more than one occasion the car accelerating flat out without any input from the driver. It happened NINE times to the first Golf I had, in less than 8000km. The service department of the only dealer in Canberra admitted lying about repairs they claimed to have done, then de facto accused me of making the whole thing up despite a multitude of fault codes in the computer. I have better things to do than make up stories about my car.

Eventually they bought the first one back from me with 8500 km on it and I paid a premium to get another (new) Golf, as I really liked the original car apart from the problem they just couldn't fix.

The new Golf:

Clunked in the front end. Dealer said it was the steering rack, and ordered a new one.

Dealer broke exhaust studs fitting the rack and had none in stock, but returned the car to me anyway, saying "you won't notice" and said new studs were on order. While it wasn't excessively loud it sounded like an old wreck so I took it home and sat it in the garage till the new studs came in.

When I drove the car away I noticed the steering wheel was off centre and the car pulled to the left.

There was also a fierce vibration coming through the floor at 90-100km/h.

When the studs came in I mentioned the new faults and they undertook to repair them.

This time they fixed the wheel alignment, but said the steering wheel couldn't be aligned any better because the column has coarse splines and only limited adjustment. This is not a good design.

They also fixed the exhaust and vibration, but this time they broke a bracket on the steering rack. They said they'd order another and I'd have to bring the car in again.

Then the car started baulking when trying to select third gear. I never even bothered to take it to the dealer for this, I just sold the car to the first person to make me an offer. The second car only had 5800km on it.

Both cars had a multitude of dashboard rattles and squeaks, which shouldn't happen in any new car let alone one advertised as being well built. One of their ads even focuses on the impossibility of a Golf developing a rattle.

Even when it was working "properly" the throttle in both cars never felt right and made it impossible to heel-and-toe by ignoring the driver's smaller inputs.

General Comments:

I bought my Golf as a present for myself, I worked hard for the money and I chose a VW because they are supposed to be well engineered and built. All the other (older) VWs we have had in the family have been excellent.

The new VWs are NOT good cars. They look great and feel solid to drive, but they are very poorly designed and built and the dealers have NO IDEA how to fix them when things go wrong.

Mine is not an isolated case. I have heard of Beetles with the same throttle problems I had, a Bora with an imploding engine and a Passat with a dodgy transmission. This from a company which claims to build excellent quality cars. Also look at the other surveys on this site and see that VW are using their reputation and excellent earlier models to sell an inferior product at an inflated price to unsuspecting motorists.

Do not, under any circumstances, buy one of these overpriced, unreliable junkers. They look great in the showroom, but the reality of owning one is an unrelenting nightmare.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 3rd October, 2003

12th Feb 2005, 02:57

I agree with you 100%

I also have a golf just 3years old and the problems gave me nightmares, I will be happy the day I got rid of it.

23rd Feb 2005, 18:44

I owned a VW GL 1999 for 3 years. I bought the car in 2000 when the car had only done 15,000Km. Owning a VW Golf was a childhood dream, so after graduating from university in 99 I decided to treat myself. A treat it was NOT, this vehicle was an absolute nightmare. I had to take the car into the VW workshop for a host of issues at least once a month. I used to dread getting in the vehicle as I was certain I would be confronted with yet another issue. Here is a list of problems I had to deal with while owning the car (15,000 - 60,000) :

- Squealing noise from the front suspension (after 4 visits to VW I gave up, they could not figure out the problem)

- Squeaky noise in the dash and central console (VW could not fix this either)

- Reverse light mechanism failed (Cost me $300 to fix)

- Driver side power-window mechanism failure (Cost me $450 to fix)

- Passenger side power-window mechanism failure (Cost me another $450 to fix)

- Noisy left rear wheel bearing at 30,000Km (Cost $400 to fix)

- Noisy right rear wheel bearing at 40,000Km (Cost another $400 to fix)

- Defective boot handle mechanism (VW tried fixing this four times, I finally gave up)

- AC condensation found its way into the passenger foot bay (I had to empty out a pond of water on a Christmas road trip to Melbourne)

- The red instrument illumination on certain parts started flicking intermittently (Cost $300 to fix)

- Central locking failed to lock the driver side door (VW claimed to have fixed this! I would lock the car only to come back to an unlocked passenger door, aliens!?)

- Rear ash tray mechanism failed (didn't bother fixing it as no one ever used it)

- Unidentifiable noise in the rear left door (VW claimed to have fixed this, but the noise persisted after the alleged fix)

And a host of other issues I cannot recall at the moment. I will never go near a VW again. I finally gave up on ever driving a trouble-free VW and decided to trade it in for an Alfa Romeo 147 Selespeed in November 2003. When friends found out I was going for an Alfa they laughed at me!! I was seriously warned about Alfas. Nevertheless, I went through with the purchase and I tell you what, I have not had one single problem. The car has only been in for one scheduled service since purchase date. I can finally get behind the wheel knowing I will get to B! Not only that, I can constantly enjoy the charming sound of the Alfa Twin Spark engine as opposed to the Golf's sawing machine!

Moral of the story: Never ever buy a Golf!

2003 Volkswagen Golf Match 1.9 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


Should be a serious consideration for the sub £15,000 bracket


One of the numberplate lights on the rear of the car has recently stopped working.

General Comments:

This car is very nice, but the wind noise is slightly greater than my previous car (Fiat Brava), the stereo is too low down and is occasionally awkward to get to behind the gearstick and because of its height, can be awkward to use whilst driving.

Apart from that, this car looks great and is generally good value for money and is very relaxing to drive!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd September, 2003