VWs from about 2008 on are more reliable than earlier ones. But six to eight years could be iffy for these as well--it's too soon to tell. The 2006s and 2007s were often fairly reliable until they reached that point. Even these are rarely awful. The worst horror stories usually involve a VW that's 2005 or earlier.
On the other hand, a Honda or Toyota seems most necessary for people who plan to keep a car for ten or more years and/or who want the best odds of virtually no repairs. If you won't keep a car this long, and can deal with a (usually minor) repair once every year or two, this isn't as necessary.
So, if you really like VWs, I'd look for a Rabbit / Golf with the non-turbo engine of the most recent model year that fits within your budget.
Few cars you can buy will be worth a lot after eight years, so I'm not sure that should be a major consideration. German cars aren't great here. Hondas and Toyotas hold their value best when 8+ years old.
One outside possibility: the Acura TSX was developed for the European market, so it feels much more solid than a Civic, and it's very fun to drive with a manual. If you can find one of these that's not too old and without too many miles within your budget it could be a good way to go.