9th Jul 2008, 09:29

I originally wrote the review above. The car has now covered 132000 miles and drives very well. I had it remapped over 3 years ago (Revo) and it transformed it! Still loads of power and very refined to drive. Very little work has been needed other than routine discs and pads etc.

My wife's 306 Hdi handles far better, the Golf going round corners more like a side board!

Given the mileage and continuing tidiness I think I'll hang onto the Golf for some time yet. It is withstanding the mileage far better than my old 306 D turbo did.

9th Mar 2010, 10:28

We have two mk4 Golfs in our household, both Wolfsburg ("WVW" VIN) cars. The contrast in quality and reliability is unbelievable, which leads me to believe the cars vary dramatically. On the admittedly limited evidence of two cars, it strikes me these cars are chucked together with a prayer, and it's pot luck how well the bits landed on your particular car.

We have a 2002 GT TDI 130 PD diesel, which is coming up on 98k. The interior rattles like an ancient Citroen, and bits of it are starting to look dog-eared (usual flaking gear lever gaiter, door handle trim, marked plastics etc), but other than that, it has, and continues to match or exceed every expectation I ever had of a VW product. I've changed rear brake pads and a CV gaiter, but other than that it's been servicing and tyres only. Fill it up with diesel, top up the screenwash periodically, and it just keeps going between services without so much as a murmur.

The other one is a 1999 1.8T GTI petrol, which has done 130k, and is properly falling to bits. The driver's door has dropped, the interior is a cacophony of buzzes and creaks, the coating is flaking off the interior door handles and the gear lever gaiter, and in the last year its needed new rear springs (corroded and snapped - common fault), a new clutch / dual mass flywheel (the latter started to break up - a common fault), a new rear brake caliper, a new air-con compressor, new exhaust bracket, two new engine mounts, and new anti roll bar bushes. The display has also packed up on the radio, the heater blower rumbles and vibrates so badly it sounds like a low flying aircraft is buzzing the car, the interior light sometimes flickers on and off, the sunroof has started leaking, the cupholder exploded out of the dash in a shower of flying springs and plastic bits, and the gearbox will no longer engage second cleanly until the oil has warmed through. This is a one owner, FVWSH car which is not driven hard.

OK, at 130,000 miles, it's hardly in its first flush of youth, but that is not big mileage by modern standards, and certainly shouldn't present any problems for any half decently built modern car which has been serviced religiously and not driven hard. Thanks in part to VW's long standing "quality" based marketing, and their long standing premium prices, it's a very serious disappointment.

The only saving grace is the 1.8T engine which seems to get smoother and stronger with mileage, and really does go well in the Golf bodyshell. It feels far quicker than the figures indicate, does over 40 mpg on the motorway, and sounds fantastic to boot. Perhaps I should rip it out and install it in a home far more worthy of it. An Elise perhaps....

A fundamental requirement of good quality manufacturing is consistency, and in my experience, VWs are as inconsistent as anything coming out of Leyland in the 70's. I cannot believe our two cars were even built in the same country, never mind the same factory. Both have seen similar usage, both are serviced to schedule, and both are driven with mechanical sympathy. Although I agree the mk4 Golf is a very attractive car with an expensive looking interior, I have to say you are no better guaranteed reliability or quality than with anything else. Get a good one and you're laughing. Get a bad one and you'll feel very short changed.

And don't go within a mile of VW dealers, whatever you end up with. All completely and irredeemably dreadful with lousy attitudes, and eye watering prices.

When I replace the GTI, it won't be with another VW, and good as the GT TDI has been, I don't think I want to risk entering the pot luck draw of VW quality again. Never in my 20 years of car ownership has marketing and reputation promised so much, and the product delivered so little in comparison. Sometimes, anyway.