No true faults with this car, although keep in mind that I didn't keep it long, so there wasn't much of a chance for anything to fail. Below are listed issues that are closer to observations and/or preferences, not truly faults.
We bought this inexpensive and compact car for me to drive around on errands and to my job. Unfortunately, because circumstances change (our OTHER car because unsafe) we had to trade this car in because nobody else in the house could drive a manual transmission other than me. No matter how hard I tried to teach them, they were never able to get this car out of first gear <g>. If you stall out trying to get into first, you had to take the key out and start the car again, and for learning drivers that's scary, especially if you're out there on the road. For me, this 5-speed was easy to drive and never stalled out, but of course I have a lot of experience with manual transmissions.
There was absolutely nothing *truly* wrong with this car. If you put a gun to my head and demanded that I complain about it, then maybe I'd say that the way that the seats are made, it can be a challenge to get in and out of the 2011 Golf. The seats have 'raised edges' that you have to lift yourself over to sit, or to exit when getting out of the car. It didn't bother me, but some of my passengers, especially those less mobile, complained. When actually seated, you were comfortable.
The only options I got were Bluetooth and monster mats. I really didn't even want Bluetooth (can't stand it personally), but every single new car on my Volkswagen dealers lot had it -- either as an option, or as a standard feature. The 2011 Golf comes with power windows/locks/remote/mirrors all as a standard feature. Also came with A/C as a standard feature.
Once I got the car, I almost immediately wished I had gotten a better stereo than the base single CD player that this car had. But, to get that better stereo, you had to upgrade the entire model, which defeated the purpose of my buying a very cheap compact car, because the price went up dramatically. With this base VW stereo, whenever you'd change radio stations, you'd have to wait a maddening two full seconds for the new station to tune in. Doesn't sound like much perhaps, but it made it impossible to run through the various stations quickly to find something you want to hear. Also, this radio was not compatible with satellite radio either, but the other (upgraded) VW radios were.
The AC and heat worked great. However, when you set the fan to the highest setting, it was loud and would drown out any conversation in the car and also drown out the radio. There was a big difference in the loudness between the highest speed and the next to highest speed. Because of this, whenever there was more than one person in the car, we usually didn't use the highest setting unless it was extremely hot outside.
In general, I had the feeling that this car was very tight and made well. And even though this was Volkswagens base model, it didn't look or feel cheap inside. Keep in mind, the faults that I wrote about above were minor and somewhat petty, but just wanted others to know my findings about this car. Plenty of trunk room (for a compact, that is), and two children can sit comfortably in the back seat. Like with any other small car, I wouldn't recommend adults in the back seat of this car for longer than a 30 minute ride. You know that already before buying.
This car had decent gas mileage. Not terrible, but not as good as you might think it would be for a small car with a small engine and with a 5-speed manual transmission. I think we averaged about 27 MPG with mixed driving. If you drove on the highway for three straight hours, it would be closer to perhaps 31 MPG. So, pretty good, but nothing to write home about for this class of car.
I had a good experience with the dealership when buying this car, and when I took it in for its first oil change (they call you for this, so you don't have to worry about remembering) the service department was also great. They even gave me a free first aid kit after the first oil change. Pretty cool! It restored me back to being happy with Volkswagen. Before this car, we had a 1999 VW Cabrio, which was a total disaster and a money pit. With the Cabrio, we were afraid to leave our city for fear of becoming stranded too far from home.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd January, 2013