1997 Volkswagen GTI from North America


An unreliable, sporty lemon


I had to repair the clutch right around 78,000 miles.

The parking brake sleeve broke around the same time.

The parking brake does not work well in the winter. When temperatures drop below freezing the parking brake locks onto the disks. I took this to the dealer and he told me it would be cheaper to just leave it in gear and not use the parking brake.

The air conditioner leaks water onto the passenger side foot wells. Therefore, I rarely use it.

One fog light needed to be replaced around 85,000 miles. Ever since then, it will occasionally turn off in cold weather.

The cabin is very loud on the highways. A number of friends have noticed and tried to roll the window up fully, thinking it was partially open.

The door moldings have partially peeled off on both sides of the car. I have seen this problem on other GTIs on the road. It seems to be a poor adhesion problem.

One of the lights on the instrument panel has burned out and will apparently cost a few hundred dollars to replace because the dashboard must be removed.

The clutch boot has recently torn.

I had a muffler issue right around 90,000. This necessitated a new muffler. I had a previous muffler put on right around 60,000 miles.

Currently, I am having issues with the rear shocks. The dealer told me the struts need to be replaced, but cannot determine why the car squeaks very loudly when engaging a right turn.

General Comments:

It has a very good heater and handles really well on turns.

It has very sporty seats.

You can't beat the optional custom Thule roof rack.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 6th October, 2003

21st Apr 2004, 17:14

I have the same car and have not seen any of those problems. It does live in an above freezing environment and only has 70K miles. It should be due for a clutch soon.

3rd Aug 2004, 14:24

My air conditioner was leaking into the passenger foot area as well. It was merely clogged, now I use it all the time.

12th Dec 2005, 22:29

I had same problems. I would add that the hatchback door started to rust when it was 2 years old. I had it fixed and the guy at repair shop told me that all GTIs made in Mexico have this problem. It started to rust in different places later on so I just fixed it myself. I bought it brand new and have never been in accident. My friend who was looking to buy GTI confirmed that when he saw GTIs most of them had rust on the hatchback door.

12th Mar 2007, 23:36

I have 97 gti and couple of mu friends too. the only problem why your hatchback and others is rusted because it wasn't rust proof. I spend every year $100 for the rust proof, maybe it seams a lot, but when you look it now, after 10 years my car has no rust at all.

1997 Volkswagen GTI VR6 2.8 from North America


Great engine in need of better suspension


Nothing big.

Rock hit and broke fog lite.

Rock hit and broke A/C condenser.

General Comments:

Excellent engine however cay is in bad need of better suspension. Previously owned 92 GTI 16V, and my 97 GTI VR6 is better in every way except extra weight. Do invest in ANY lowering and firming suspension and car will be a delight to drive. I also have 16" BBS wheels which seem to strike a nice balance between performance and streetability over potholes.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th December, 2002

25th May 2003, 05:14

Visit the forums on www.vwvortex.com.

For a little more kick, you would probably want to look at a chip. Garret (GIAC) produces a good one for the VR6.

I recently purchased a 97 Golf VR6. Only major issue was, when purchased, an inner CV boot needed fixing, as it had been torn by something impacting or catching it. Wear had caused (some related part I can't remember the name of) to seize up, requiring a few hours of labour to dislodge and replace, due to the unique nature of the parts.

Apart from that, it's an excellent car. Fuel consumption is typically high when driven aggressively, and its requirement for premium petrol can be a little pricey at times (nothing but Shell Optimax for me).

My only real gripe about the car in general is the price of genuine VW parts, and the lack of aftermarket alternatives for general, non-performance oriented parts (eg. rear wheel bearings being a non-performance part, as opposed to the rotor itself, which can be bought elsewhere).