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Volkswagen Golf 1998 - 2002 Review

This sturdy unit at the turn of the millennium showcases the many improvements made with each new release.

Higher safety standards and better fuel economy are consistent features with each model, along with the unit's critically responsive road handling.

The interior is well equipped for anyone of any shape and size, through a variety of seat height levels, steering wheel slants and pulls that make driving safe and comfortable.

The vehicle's controls are well located with excellent vision to the front, though slightly restricted in the rear by side pillars and head restraints.

The Golf provides a comfortable ride on longer journeys with plenty of space in the load area, tie down luggage hooks and a 12 volt power socket for accessories such as a car fridge.

The Golf utilises distinctive large twin headlamps that combine fog lights and turn signals within the same lens. The fully galvanised body carries a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty and surrounds a frame purpose built to tough it out on winding roads and poorer road surfaces.

The suspension allows a slight amount of body roll when cornering over uneven surfaces without any loss of handling or manoeuverability.

The engine has plenty of go, but has a tendency to fade on long steep hills; extra passengers and onboard luggage will compound this problem.

It will require a lower gear than would be usually expected.

Braking at 80km/h halts the car within a short distance through a four wheel ABS that tends to soil the wheels with brake dust over time.

The Golf provides a comfortable ride inside and, while leg room in the rear of the GLE can be a little restrictive (the 1.6 has thinner sports seats in the front), there's plenty of headroom for all passengers.

In addition, the 1.6-litre GL Auto and the 1.8-litre GLE manual includes seat belt pretensioners with belt force limiters, power windows and mirrors, a single CD player in the radio, front seat storage nets, hydraulic bonnet supports, four cup holders and illuminated vanity mirrors.

Carry-over standard equipment on both models includes dual front airbags, airconditioning, central locking, power assisted steering, tilt steering wheel and split fold rear seats.

Overall the Golf is a great performer for a small family for which you can expect to pay $16,700 privately or $21,200 from a dealer for the 1998 model. This jumps to $19,500 privately or $24,700 from a dealer for a 2002 model.

Common problems to look for include brake disc wear, cooling system corrosion, and manual transmission fifth gear synchro and clutch wear.

The Golf doesn't have a free spinning engine and requires a timing belt change every 90,000km.

A pre-purchase inspection by the NRMA is a good precaution.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

CL 1.8L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,600 – 4,400 1998 Volkswagen Golf 1998 CL Pricing and Specs
GL 2.0L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,000 – 5,170 1998 Volkswagen Golf 1998 GL Pricing and Specs
SE 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,900 – 4,950 1998 Volkswagen Golf 1998 SE Pricing and Specs
CL 1.8L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,400 – 4,070 1998 Volkswagen Golf 1998 CL Pricing and Specs