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1998 volkswagen golf 1.4 e
Honest John points the way with a new model every week
What's good: More room, safer and better handling than MkIII. Status and strong used values, good equipment. Three-year manufacturer and dealer warranty. Base 100bhp, 8v 1.6-litre petrol engine upgraded to 103bhp 16v. VR5, later uprated to 170bhp, sounds great. 204bhp, V6 six-speed had 4-Motion 4WD. Roadholding and handling improvements for 2002 model year. Ninth most reliable car in 2001 Fleet News survey of 620,000 cars mostly under three years old. 180bhp GTI Anniversary in May 2002. Price cuts for V5 and 4-Motion. VWs had below average repair costs in 2003 Warranty Direct Reliability Index (www.reliabilityindex.co).
What's bad: Light steering improved in 2002. Problems with early 1.4 and 1.6 gearboxes. Front door lock barrels of 1998 MkIVs can be prised out with a screwdriver. Build quality niggles, especially on South African cars. Mass airflow sensor problems common on 1.8T (see www.forums.vwvortex.com). Poor economy of Y- and 51-reg 1.6 due to ECU fault. 1.8 20v timing belts can snap at 70,000-80,000 miles, turbos built Aug 2001-Oct 2002 can suffer ignition coil failure. Water pump failure on 1.4s leads to snapped timing belt. 1998-2000 petrol models average for breakdowns and faults, poor for problems; 2001-2003 cars average for problems, poor for breakdowns and faults in 2003 Which? survey.
What to watch out for: RHD personal imports not to full UK spec. Rear brake fluid leaks on early MkIVs due to corrosion.
Recalls: 1/10/98: 9,500 cars with volumetric alarms recalled to fit less sensitive sensors. 22/1/2001 (estate only): Isofix mounting bars need re-welding. 26/2/2001 (149 cars, Oct-Nov 2000 build): Passenger airbag may not inflate correctly, replace. 9/5/2002: Worldwide recall of 24,703 Boras and Golfs because electrical fault in ABS ECU could cause overheating and possibly fire. 26/3/2003: Brake servo vacuum supply pipe on 69,778 Boras and Golfs may leak.