I am now on my third VW. Two golfs and a passat. I only had the passat 7 months and it was so poor and cost me so much that I sold it. only for the guy to call me two weeks later to tell me the turbo diesel engine had blown up!
On the flip side of this both golfs have been amazing. the second being my car at the moment. A 97P 16v gti. I use the car for work and have traveled 32,000 miles in 9 months without anything, and I mean anything breaking. The engine hasn't missed a beat and I will probably own it for years to come. I think buying any car is a lottery, old or new, but if you stick with German or Japenese your chances in that lottery seem a lot better to me. The proof is in the pudding, when was the last Peugeout owner you met that hasn't had an electrical problem that week! (that was meant tongue in cheek, but you know what I mean)
VW really lost the plot with these GTIs. 115bhp and a GTI badge is utterly laughable. It's just a city runabout. MAF sensor problems are well known with these cars. "If only everything in life was realiable as a VW?" Don't make me laugh!
The MAF sensor problem is allegedly due to VW's system which is meant to 'burn off' deposits from the sensor after the engine has been switched off.
A good idea in theory, but in practice it makes the sensor very brittle as it cools down. At approximately the same time, you are likely to be shutting the door, thus, the shock sent through the car breaks the sensor.
To avoid this happening, it may be worth shutting it more gently or waiting perhaps 30 second ~ 1 minute longer.
PS. French isn't as bad as people think.