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2003 Volkswagen Jetta / Golf / GTI Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Owner Pros and Cons by svanegmond



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Reviewed: 2003 Volkswagen GTI

2dr Hatch turbocharged 180hp 1.8L I4 5-speed manual FWD

Why the 2003 Volkswagen GTI?

Interior styling

VW continues to practice minimalist styling, in constrast to the crazy-making distraction present in Ford and Hyundais. Don't want your iPhone to talk to your car and tweet to your friends? This is your car. Excellent materials throughout.

Reliability & durability

VW'S "enjoy" a certain reputation. Rest assured they are not all like that. Ours has been regularly maintained, and has really only had a small number of unexpected problems: front bearings and clutch went earlier than usual. 150k km, no oth

Audio & nav systems

The 2003 model has an adequately performant audio system. The bass is heavier in the rear seats than in the front, which makes for some tricky fine tuning.

Powertrain performance

Goes like a freaking monster once you get it past 2500 RPM. Top Gear might call it the slowest, porkiest of the GTI's but really... it's fine.

Dealer practices

VW dealers are among the worst aspects of the VW ownership experience. I understand why they need to charge me $26.75 to install a rear taillight... I just don't need to like it. Do you expect otherwise from a car dealer? Find a good independent mecha

Why Not the 2003 Volkswagen GTI?

Color choices

Volkswagen needs a punch in the colour palette. Grey, grey, grey, white, black, and red. Thanks for the variety, guys!


At least in 2003, road noise is more noticeable than modern cars. I can't tell if it's comparable to others in its range, but it bothers me now that I've driven more recent vehicles.

Discounts & incentives

Pro tip: walk in at the end of a month or sales quarter, find the #2 salesperson on the sales whiteboard (you have to look for it) and he's going to be your friend. Got a $36K GTI for $30K out the door.


If you already own one, you know how bad the depreciation can be. For what is effectively a perfect car to be values around $7k is beyond me.

Ride smoothness

Gets jittery as the shocks age.

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