Further update: the jack broke today.
This car is really a piece of crap - like all other people, we are fooled by its nice appearance and high quality interior materials, but truthfully the car is probably on par with a Chevy Cavalier, but costs several thousands more...
I have this car for 14 months I don't want it anymore.
I would never recommend this car to anyone. I just had my transmission replaced! I have trouble with the car starting as well.
UPDATE BY ORIGINAL POSTER APRIL 27TH, 2006.
The car has 32,000 km on it now.
The following new problems manifested themselves..
- creaking sound from front when driving over bumps and turning (sounds like at 20 year old car) - told it was the "bushings"
- More rattles from doors - give up on this one, and will not even bother to state this to the dealer.
- Rear light cluster on the left side did not work (found out by chance). I tried jiggling the wires and that helped, but I am a bit apprehensive because I will never know if suddenly gives out again and I'll be driving with one rear light only.
Rear windshield nozzle would be activated when cleaning activating the front washers. Repaired under warranty.
I am thankful however that I've had no major problems - transmission, engine, etc. failures. The only issues I had a minor perceptive "quality" issues, some quite trivial and some which all cars have, and nothing major has gone wrong.
Additional problems that have cropped up (numbered) :
The car has 38,000km on the odometer. Car owned now for 1 year, 10 months. One driver (me), car is "babyed" (regular oil changes, service done according to schedule, kept spotless, garaged year round, not abused)
14 - Alternator replaced (battery charge light warning)
15 - Squeaky front axle - bushings replaced.
Both under warranty.
I had a similar problem with the drivers door squeak. My problem was that the hinge was bad. I had taken it to the dealer 4 times. They said it didn't do it for them. On the forth time I had the dealer manager go, we didn't make it out of the lot and he heard it klunk.
Update by original poster:
Had the car for 4 years, end-of-lease, returned car with 56,000km: there was no way I would keep this car, since the warranty expires with the lease.
Overall, would I buy a VW again? NO - I don't care what VW does, I will NEVER buy or lease a VW again.
During the first two years, many things malfunctioned or broke for no reason. Note I am single and no one plays around with the car or messes things up. This was one well-pampered, generally low-mileage car that was cared for and serviced according to schedule, with the oil changed more often than recommended. Many of the things that malfunctioned can be attributed to poor quality of materials used, since some things would break for no reason (e.g. passenger door lock broke during the first year even though nobody opened that door ever). Other things that broke were just due to poor build; VW of Mexico assembly is downright shoddy (akin to third world production).
After the first two years, many of the poor quality items that broke were replaced, and the car had less things falling off and breaking during the third and esp the fourth year.
Dealer was not stellar. Low to average rating, not very friendly. I am happy I do not need to go there anymore. Buying experience was bad (they limited my lease to 80,000km over 4 years even though the car had over 50km on delivery - they should have given my 80,050km). Returning the car, the fellow was not very friendly either.
I would never buy a car from that dealer again.
One thing though I will give VW credit for: the sheet metal on this car was very ding resistant. There was rarely any damage from the idiot drivers who open their doors and ding your car. I wonder if VW still builds it's cars like that.
The other thing I will give VW credit for is the nice materials used for the most part in the interior, which were better than some items on a car three times it's price.
The car is no longer with me. I pity the unsuspecting person who buys it and has to deal with the expense of buying VW parts.
I feel your pain, had many VWs that 'looked' and 'felt' nice, but fell apart. Solid powertrains, but every else sucks. I had the creaking suspension problem too, electrical problems, failed windows, check engine lights, bad cruise control... All in less than 3 years. I expected this car would be great quality wise, but it only has quality where it shows, not always where it actually counts.
Got myself a Ford Focus for $10,000 less than my Golf was, and have not had a single problem, rattle or £200 visit to the stealership since then. 90,000KM later.