This is a sporty-looking little car - looks more GTi than 55bhp supermini with its standard Hockenheim alloy wheels, twin headlights and front spoiler - though the lustre on the bright red paint is beginning to fade on the doors and roof (nothing a little T-Cut won't fix) and there are a few minor surface rust patches.
The car is deceptively fast for only 55 bhp and 70 lb/ft of torque, easily keeping up with most cars up to about 50 mph when its performance trails off (80-90 mph cruising is relatively easy though) ; probably a lot to do with its short intermediate gearing and light weight (only three quarters of a ton, or 750 kgs). I was expecting the car, being German to be torpid, but the car revs willingly up to its 6200 rpm red line.
The only problem I have with the handling is the steering - I read somewhere that the geometry of the steering goes erratic when you turn a corner or brake - which I genuinely believe - it's always vague around sharp corners and when braking hard, it's no great shakes in a straight line either. Other than that the handling is pretty good, if soft and bouncy. It's fun anyway...
The interior is typical '80s VW; practically all black, gloomy and spartan. The only concessions to luxury (I use the term loosely) are a sunroof, a rev counter, four stereo speakers plus a "loudspeaker" in the middle of the dash, and (shock horror!) a folding rear seat - which is useless if you need to carry more than two people because it isn't split-folding. Headroom and legroom is poor for taller drivers, but then again I usually scrape my knees and head on large family car's roofs and steering wheels too.
Running costs are great - insurance is very cheap for me (being 18 years old and a new driver with Pass Plus), it's only £50 a month. According to the VW statistics in the manual the 45kw engine is supposed to get up to 50 mpg (which I've never ever seen), but I generally average 35 mpg since the poor thing gets thrashed ruthlessly.
All in all a great first car, and a superb alternative to the usual boring Nova or Fiesta option which faces the first-time buyer.