Volkswagen Variants on a Theme: 2003 Jetta GLS 1.8T v. 2001 Passat GLS 1.8T

Obviously, this post comes to you from someone who likes Volkswagens – and, in particular, 5-door VWs. I’m not sure exactly what the attraction is for me, but the last two Volkswagens I’ve had – both Passat GLS 1.8T Variants – have been faithful and fun-to-drive companions. Despite their relative popularity (VW sold nearly 110,000 wagons in North America – 20% of production overall), they somehow manage to stand apart from the crowd. And for about ten years VW enthusiasts got to choose not only from the Passat’s fairly robust lineup of wagons which featured everything from luxurious automatic V6 all-wheel drivers to thrifty diesels and outrageous W8s, but there was also the slightly smaller Jetta Wagon as well. Like the Passat, several options were available, from a basic 2.0, the turbo 1.8, the TDI and the crazy VR6 model.

Today I’ve got two examples to consider; in this case, both are front-drive 1.8T 5-speed manual GLSs. Despite what should be a very similar basis, these two take on remarkably different character. Pricing is pretty similar but presentation and mileage are quite different. Which is the one to buy? Let’s start with the Jetta:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T Wagon on eBay

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2003 Volkswagen GTi 20th Anniversary Edition

Volkswagen’s special editions on the fourth generation Golf were confusing for a bit. Once again in 2001, a neat GTi was launched that – of course – wasn’t coming to the United States. But of all of the special editions that weren’t sold here, perhaps this one made the most sense to be excluded. It was called the 25th Anniversary Edition and you didn’t need to be good at math to realize that there was no GTi sold here 25 years before 2001. Since the “18 year Anniversary Edition” didn’t make much sense from a marketing perspective even in spite of Volkswagen’s continual spotty judgement in that regard, it was no surprise that it wasn’t offered. That was too bad, as it had a lowered suspension, better brakes, a bit more power, fantastic Recaro seats and the best looking BBS wheels fit to any Volkswagen, ever. Volkswagen enthusiasts in America drool inwardly and shouted openly, so in 2002 Volkswagen finally did bring the special edition here. Again, since “19th Anniversary” didn’t make any sense, we instead got the “337” Edition. This was, for all intents and purposes, an exact copy of the 25th Anniversary model, but instead the 337 referenced the internal project code for the original GTi. But they were quite limited, with only 1,250 sold in the U.S. and 250 sold in Canada. So, you probably missed out on your chance to own one, right? Well, wrong, because in 2003 Volkswagen re-released the 337 edition. Conveniently, there was now a round number that they could actually commemorate the GTi’s longevity with as it had been 20 years since the A1 GTi rolled out of Westmoreland. Again, it was a greatest hits edition of the GTi; the 337 upgraded 12.3 inch vented brakes with go-faster red calipers carried over, as did the upgraded suspension. Though they sported different fabric, inside was the same Recaro interior with deep bolsters. The golf ball shift knob also returned, though it now was mated to a new 6-speed transmission (MQ350) which in turn were connected to R32 Aristo wheels in place of the BBS RCs. Deeper front and rear valances matched the previous two models, and the 20th AE got blacked headlights more similar to the 25th AE. A final homage to the original model were subtle rabbits adorning the rear and vintage inspired GTi badging. But the biggest change was that the 20th AE was available in three colors unlike the silver-only prior cars; Black Magic Pearl, Jazz Blue and Imola Yellow:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen GTi 20th Anniversary Edition on eBay

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2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 Wagon

The earlier dueling beige wagons was a bit of a letdown post, and off the bat I have to say I’m sorry. I should have been more excited to see two rare VAG products from the 1980s, but looking at those two the best response I feel I can muster is a general “at least they’re clean”. And that’s sad, because keeping a car in good condition for that period of time certainly takes a fair amount of care and concern – it doesn’t just happen by accident. Despite that, I just found it very hard to get at all excited about either of those wagons. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I got quite excited when I stumbled across this 5-door. Now, I want to be clear up front that I’m not a Jetta fan – I reside firmly in “Camp Golf” when I’m not at “Club Passat”. Furthermore, I’m not really a Mk.4 fan. They’re notorious for shoddy build quality, wacky electrics and…well, to be not particularly delicate, the Mk.4 Jetta reminds me of college girls from New Jersey and not in a good way. However, there are some positives to consider. First, while we were denied the Mk.3 Golf Variant, Volkswagen allowed the small wagon to come to the U.S., and this is one. Second, the Mk.4 generation had some great motor options; the frugal TDi, the tunable 1.8T and the torquey and awesome sounding VR6 engines – all available in 5-door form. Lesser known is that all of the wagons, like the Passat, were assembled in Germany. That may not matter to some, but my experience has been that the German-built Passat wagons had better build quality than the sedans. On top of that, you also got some great wheel options in the Mk.4 and it could be had in a 5-speed manual. It really was a fun, sporty wagon option – something Volkswagen and Audi hadn’t been stellar at offering U.S. customers. Today’s 2002 example is from mid-way through Mk.4 production and features all of those above mentioned items in a pleasing combination of Reflex Silver Metallic with black leather:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 Wagon on eBay

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2004 Volkswagen Golf R32

I’ve been pretty critical lately of the limited run Golf and GTi models. It’s not for their performance, build quality or weight; the typical complaint about these models, but for the pricing which just has seemed out of line with what you get. For example, in my R32-off post the good condition red R32 – despite being 10 years old – was offered at a staggering $18,000. That’s well into E46 M3 money, among many other cars that I’d rather have no matter how special that Golf is. But the argument for the Golf is that it’s a neat, rare and limited run model that coupled arguably the best normally aspirated motor Volkswagen had offered since the original GTi to a capable all wheel drive system through a 6-speed manual transmission. There’s no doubt, it’s the car that Volkswagen enthusiasts had clamored for since the original Rallye, G60 and Limited models. Today’s example has double the miles of the red car but is offered in the signature Deep Blue Metallic and at a much more attractive price:

Year: 2004
Model: Golf R32
Engine: 3.2 liter VR6
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 139,670 mi
Price: $ 11,000 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Golf R32 on eBay

All Wheel Drive 3.2 liter VR6 – 4motion 6 Speed Manual Transmission Deep Blue Metallic – (1 of 1000) Black Interior with factory Konig leather bucket seats and brushed aluminum trim I love this car, but work has forced me to buy a new car! Only 5000 of these machines were released to the US in 4 colors. I bought this R32 in June 2006 w/12K miles and have taken very good care of it. No accidents & clean title.

I’ve owned three MK4 s (VR6/20th/R32) and this is by far my favorite! You will not be disappointed with this rare VW!

-Mostly stock

-Garaged and regularly waxed

-Full synthetic oil and filter changes every 5,000 miles since 2006

-Regular alignments and checkups

-Stage 2 endurance clutch assembly kit ($3,000)

-Timing Chain replaced

-Haldex serviced

-Tranny fluid drained & replaced

-Accident free

-Rubber Monster Mats

-Original VW Manual

-New windshield wipers

-New tires–always ran BF Goodrich G-Force Super Sport

-18 alloy wheels

-New battery

-Tint

-Sirius XM satellite radio

-Short shifter and aluminum bushing upgrades

-A/C ice cold

-All scheduled maintenance

-Always garaged

-Looks & drives great

-Mostly highway miles

-Non-smoker

-Title in hand

-Well maintained

Minor flaws noted below:

-Few scratches on back right panel

-Tiny hole in the passenger seat

-Tiny tear in the driver’s seat

-Crack in the back bumper (someone parallel parked into it when parked)

-Scratches/Dings on the factory alloy wheels Notice— front bumper, there is a crack on the bottom of the bumper with a few scuff marks.

If any additional pictures are needed, I would be happy to provide to buyer. Buyer is responsible for setting up shipping for vehicle from 85260. The VW extended warranty coverage ended at 97,000 miles. Been kept in great condition and had all scheduled maintenance by a mechanic working at the VW proving grounds.

I get you’re selling the car and you don’t want to put more money into it, but serious – missing a VW centercap from a private seller? They can be had for less than $5 if you look. Its a small detail that continues to annoy me when I see cars that are reported to be owned by enthusiasts. Maybe you don’t care, but to me it shows a level of attention to detail that may not be present. Thankfully, the car is otherwise pretty well shown. Cracked and scuffed bumpers seem pretty commonplace on these earlier models. I’m having a hard time understanding how a clutch cost $3,000, but at least the owner represents the service that is done and the needs the car has. Priced at $11,000, this money would get you into a newer 2.0T GTi, but is just about the right price for me to jump into one of these much more special R32s.

-Carter

2003 Volkswagen GTi 20th Anniversary Edition

Last week I wrote up a Imola Yellow 20th Anniversary Edition GTi, a car that I prefer for a few reasons over the R32 – sacrilegious though it may be. Today another of these limited-run GTis has popped up, this time Metallic Black but again with those great Recaros and Aristo alloys:

Year: 2003
Model: GTi 20th Anniversary Edition
Engine: 1.8 liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 106,000 mi
Price: No Reserve Auction

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen GTi 20th Anniversary Edition on eBay

2003-Volkswagon GTI-20th anniversary edition, limited production only 4,000 made. new timing belt, new six speed transmissions and new tires. have receipts available for work done. runs excellent! Recaro seats. call Romeo @ 732-773-5480

NOTE: THIS CAR IS BEING SOLD LOCALLY. THIS IS AN AUCTION AND COULD END AT ANYTIME!

NO EMAILS PLEASE!

In comparison to the yellow car, this is a slightly more common but less sought-after color, but there are many who want a black GTi. Again I’m happy that the original alloys are there, and the car overall appears to be clean and in good condition. It’s nice that the timing belt, transmission and tires have all been replaced recently – certainly less to worry about; but I do note in the photos that the airbag light is on. Despite that, this GTi really embodies the GTi package – sport, looks, utility and economy in an affordable package. For $8,000, this is a lot of different car in one slick package!

-Carter

2003 Volkswagen GTi 20th Anniversary Edition

A few weeks ago, I wrote up a few R32s in a comparison in which I declared that the GTi 337/20th Anniversary Edition body kit looked better. Today’s car is a perfect example of that; combining the awesome looking OZ Aristos under those hunkered down Mk.4 GTi arches is just about perfect. The front spoiler, side sills, and rear bumper cover integration aren’t the best designed ever, but they’re reasonably clean and didn’t fuss the lines like the R32 items did in my mind. No one would accuse the Mk.4 of being a light beast, but the GTi certainly looks lighter than the R32 without that gaping front bumper, and it was at least in part. Today’s example looks great in Imola Yellow with those comfy Recaros:

Year: 2003
Model: GTi 20th Anniversary
Engine: 1.8 liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 131,260 mi
Price: $7,900 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen GTi 20th Anniversary on eBay

Thank you for viewing our vehicle. This is a chance to own a super rare, super desirable 2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary edition and it is #0919 of 3000. This vehicle is a unmolested and un modified GTI except for an aftermarket cold air intake. The car has a clean and clear autocheck report with no accidents or incidents ever reported to their database. The car has normal wear for a vehicle of its age and it has some very minor road chips from normal everyday driving. The car currently has 131,260 original miles and it has been fully serviced with 4 brand new high performance tires(Receipt) , a brand new clutch with less than 6k miles(Receipt) , and brand new wheel speed sensors. The car has factory Recaro GTI seats that are in absolute brand new condition, the complete interior on the car is amazing, the exterior is a 9/10 and mechanically it is perfect. Everything on the car is original all the way down to the factory radio and factory books with a lot recent service records and receipts. There are no error light illuminated on the dash so that mean no check engine/abs/traction ect.

If the car is sold within NYS you will be subjected to pay NYS Sales tax and inspection fees, also we are not looking for any trades for this vehicle and please don’t send us low ball offers. Please Contact Travis @ 1917-345-1098, our address is 9303 Atlantic Ave Woodhaven NY 11421 our office hours are from Monday thru Saturday from 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM Sunday we are closed. I look forward to answering any questions you may have, thank you for viewing.

I had the pleasure of driving one of these almost new at Watkins Glen International race track. In stock form, it was impressive around the track – plenty of scoot, hugely composed at triple digit speeds, and with plenty of brake and grip. It was easy to drive quickly and didn’t give much up to the much more powerful Audis and BMWs that were my company on the track. Most of these 20th Anniversary Editions have been modified heavily, so it’s nice to see one reasonably stock – though this example has quite a few miles, it appears to be in good shape overall. I think it’s pretty reasonably priced under $8,000, too – with recent maintenance, good overall condition and rarity of the Imola 20th AE, this would be a pretty reasonable way to introduce some hot hatch to your daily commute!

-Carter