Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/31/21 10:39 p.m.

Was BSing with a friend about how I'm planning to find a new DD and he suggested a VW Wagon, find one with the 1.8T, tune it, drop it, and head off into the sunset.

It doesn't hit the RWD/AWD goal I wanted, but as I said that isn't necessary, and every modern-ish VW I've been in has been fun (I've only ridden in GTIs and chipped TDIs, so that may have something to do with it)

Should I go looking for one?

stanger_mussle GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/31/21 11:09 p.m.

I seriously considered buying a VW Golf Sportwagen. But I wanted a manual, Great Falls Green exterior and Marrakesh Brown interior.

They made like 4 of them with that combo.

barefootskater (Shaun)
barefootskater (Shaun) PowerDork
8/1/21 12:56 a.m.

alls I'm sayin. 

but also, RWD. 

Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/1/21 1:22 a.m.

In reply to barefootskater (Shaun) :

Scroll to my second post

buzzboy Dork
8/1/21 6:36 a.m.

Yes. Go look at them, go drive them. My friends have been driving more and more VWs over the past few years and I've gotten to have some wheeltime. Manual Sportwagon was fantastic. Manual 2013 Jetta TDI Wagon was dreamy. Manual 2013 Golf TDI an absolute joy to drive.

ddavidv UltimaDork
8/1/21 7:44 a.m.

Wife was tired of the SUV thing so we went back to a wagon about two years ago. Picked up a 2010 Sportwagen for next to nothing. VW's horrible resale value is a blessing if you are a buyer. The car was so cheap I won't care if it explodes in another year, it will owe us nothing.

Now, build quality is okay but not outstanding. Interior materials feel a little cheap. No rust on the body despite many PA winters. Some parts are expensive but judicious shopping online and you can diminish the VAG tax.

We got a 2.5 because the 1.8T has some worrisome problems, particularly as a used car. You need to research that engine before you commit. They run well and respond to modifications...while they run. The 2.5 OTOH is a total workhorse engine with virtually no problems. If you like torque over HP this is the engine you want. I did a short video about ours and some of the things to look for: Jetta 2.5 Buyer's Tips

I think we're currently at 168,000 miles. Just replaced the a/c compressor because it was weak, but still worked. Fixed the items mentioned in the video. Replaced the rear shocks because one started weeping. Had a sticking rear caliper, replaced with a free used one a friend had. Other than that I just change the oil.

There isn't much else to choose from in a wagon anymore. Audis are too expensive to fix. Mercedes are that, plus unreliable. BMWs cost too much to buy into for how old they are. We don't like Volvos. Saab is gone. The Americans and Japanese have dismissed the wagon segment.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/1/21 7:51 a.m.

In reply to Mr_Asa :

B5s had the 1.8t and were available in AWD.  And I'd take one of those waaaay sooner than anything else VWAG sold in the past 20 years.

ColoradoBob New Reader
8/1/21 4:50 p.m.

I have a 2001 Passat wagon (1.8t, 5 speed, FWD) that we bought new in August 2000.  It currently has 247xxx miles and despite being used in all of Colorado's seasons it has zero rust.  Power isn't great at 150 hp, but it's fun to drive

Only major issue was having the intake cam grind through a single lifter at 200xxx miles for reasons unknown.  Other than that it has just required regular maintenance.

rslifkin UberDork
8/1/21 4:52 p.m.

For those talking about the 1.8t, keep in mind, the early 2000s 1.8t and the current (2015-ish and up) 1.8t are totally different engines. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/1/21 5:05 p.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

Indeed.  That scores another point for the B5: Never trust a VWAG engine with timing chains.


(yes, yes, I know about the intake cam chain, those aren't counted here)

MrRobogoat (Forum Supporter)
MrRobogoat (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand New Reader
8/3/21 1:48 p.m.

In reply to Mr_Asa :

Short answer, yes! I'd also suggest looking at certain Audi offerings -- what sort of age are you looking for, will you be doing the work yourself, and how much budget do you have?

Below is another proselytizing ramble about the cult of VAG...

For more info related to the '99-'05 Jetta Wagon and the old 1.8T, look at my post over here. I have had generally positive experiences with B6 A4s and Mk4 Golfs / Jettas (mainly diesels currently, be the 1.8T Golf we had was potent). The B5 platform on the Passat is shared with the '96-'01 A4. The main thing to know about this platform is the front suspension arrangement: There are four control arms per side in the front. This is to help deal with the fact that the engine is fully in front of the front axle line (yes, even the FWD ones are like that). It's a great driving setup, and Audi won a Championship or two (I don't recall exactly) with the B5 chassis in the BTCC with it. The downside is that there are 8 control arms with bushings and ball joints to fail per car. Last I checked you could get kits of all 8 from various parts vendors; I've never done the job but have looked into it, main thing I remember is that you absolutely must only torque the bushings at ride height. In comparison, the Mk4 chassis has the front suspension of an ox cart, look in the link for what you can do to make it kind of handle. That said, I've been dailying Mk4s instead of B5/B6 platform cars -- their simplicity is appealing for a car that I work on myself and need to be able to repair quickly and rarely.

In regards to the 2.5l 5 cylinder used in the Jetta Sportwagen (and other VAG products): This engine is near the top ten of my "want to own" list. I first read about it when Hank Iroz started swapping a turbocharged version into his Ur-Quattro. Compared to the Audi 5 cylinders of yore, it's notably shorter and the head flows dramatically more (A Lamborghini V10 header will bolt to the head, suggesting a possible origin for it's high flowing nature...). Some of the early versions had randomly forged cranks, and TT-RS forged cranks can be used in the cheap NA blocks -- It did not take long for 1000hp builds to pop up. In daily driver duties, the two issues are the timing chains in earlier engines, and the PCV system generally needing some care and upkeep. The 2006 model year had the worst timing chain issues IIRC, and revisions in 2007 generally fixed things from what I understand -- I'd be looking for a 2007.5+ or be prepared to do the chain. In the past year I helped my brother and gf pick out a Jetta Sportwagen with the 2.5l and DSG, and it's been great aside from an AC issue. I think they paid ~5k for it. Service for the DSG boxes is important, but I haven't heard horror stories from them -- they're definitely better than the non serviceable autotragics that came with the Mk4 platform (which seem to fail every ~100k).

But even with that caveat, I would absolutely take the 2.5 over the 2.0T -- The various "teething problems" from 2006-2010 do not seem worth the hassle to me at all. This basically wipes out the B7 A4 as a chassis to own in my view as it has very few redeeming qualities compared to the previous generation or the subsequent Audi products with the 3.0 supercharged V6.

Personally, I'd love to own another B6 Audi A4 Avant quattro with the 1.8T and six speed (only offered in '04-'05 IIRC). The 1.8T is a great engine, and the six speed helps keep the noise down on the highway. The steering is a very nice level of boost, it's easy to drive on the highway and also plenty of fun on curvy back roads. When pushed, you can feel the trick front suspension working to keep the tire flat to the road, and the AWD help dig you out of corners. It doesn't have the locking rear diff of earlier quattro systems, but with the stability control turned off it'll happily go sideways in the snow -- the non haldex quattro systems are right up there with Subarus in terms of being real AWD. The interior is better appointed than the Passat, and the price difference on the used market should not be too severe, although you may struggle to find either make in manual wagon form in some parts of the country. My reasoning for the B6 over the B5 is that the B6 has better parts availability (it's newer, but there were also fewer part changes during the B6 run. Expect to be shopping with your VIN if you have a B5.).

It's also worth pointing out that the VW products came in diesel versions: '99-'03 Jetta TDI wagons came with the ALH, and '04 had the BEW, both of which are reliable to 300k+ miles easily. There is a price premium for these wagons at this point which may be off putting if you have not owned and loved a diesel before, but if you do a lot of driving the fuel savings can be nice. It sounds like you'd like more power though, so maybe look at other Audi products? IIRC, they made an A6 Avant with the 3.0T from the B8 S4, and the C5 A6 was available with the 2.7TT and 6 speed from the B5 S4 (The engine can make absolute oodles of power, the gearbox is very stout, but expect to pull the engine if either turbo decides to blow. It's also got 8 front control arms too.).

HumbleMechanic on YouTube has lots of good videos exploring the nether regions of malcontent VAG products.

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/3/21 2:21 p.m.
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/3/21 2:40 p.m.

In reply to MrRobogoat (Forum Supporter) :

Whew.  Lotta stuff to absorb there.
In general I'm looking for anything newer than 2000, probably going to be doing most of the work myself so I would prefer not to have a E36 M3box, budget is still up in the air, but $4000-6000.

Wouldn't be opposed to Audi, the look is good on the A4 Avants.

slefain PowerDork
8/3/21 4:00 p.m.

I had a '95 Passat VR6 wagon with a stick. It was entertaining to drive and quite useful, but then it fell apart in the most maddening ways. I sold it to a fellow GRMer who yanked the drivetrain for a swap. I didn't shed a tear.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/3/21 4:51 p.m.

My parents ran a 1990 Passat wagon (bright red, stick, picked up in Wolfsburg) for years before replacing it with a Subaru Legacy wagon. And another. And, I think, one more. Then Subaru stopped making wagons. Dad bought a Legacy sedan and kept it for a year before trading it in on a new bright red 2019 Sportwagen. They specifically wanted a wagon instead of a SUV because they're easier to get into for my short mom and the shape of the cargo bay is long instead of tall.

Mom is very happy to be back in a bright red VW wagon. 

MrRobogoat (Forum Supporter)
MrRobogoat (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand New Reader
8/4/21 6:11 p.m.

In reply to Mr_Asa :

I have a real soft spot for B6 A4s, they're definitely worth a look if you can find some down there. Up here in NY they're pretty common because of the AWD. If you're feeling ambitious and want a lot of power, you could think about getting a C5 A6 / Allroad with the 2.7TT and 6 speed, but I'd look through some YouTube tutorials before seriously considering one. A solid Mk4 Jetta or B6 A4 should definitely be within your budget.

dxman92 Dork
8/9/21 6:17 a.m.

I think the sweet spot is going to be a 2.5 gas wagon with a stick shift. yes

Keep in mind all VW wagons stopped production in 2019 here in the states. 

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/9/21 8:12 a.m.

My experience with owning mine has wholly disappointed me but I seem to be in the minority. I was so excited too, when I bought it. TDI, manual, wagon, low miles. What could go wrong.

It's a TDI and with the "fix" it runs like crap, VW dealers are terrible to deal with and it's spent more time being fixed than any other car I've owned. Apparently with a tune the crappy running goes away entirely but, if you see my post in the for sale section, this car and I just don't get along. 


You can buy mine for a deal if you want...

noddaz GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/9/21 8:13 a.m.
barefootskater (Shaun) said:

alls I'm sayin. 

but also, RWD. 

KyAllroad UltimaDork
8/9/21 10:44 a.m.

This is the droid you want.  2007-2010 B6 Passat wagon.    If you can find a VR6 4Motion one, it's the best of the bunch.   The suspension is much more robust than the crazy multilink B5 ones that came before it.    I've owned this one for 10 years and 100,000 miles now and I have no plans or intention to replace it.

clutchsmoke UltraDork
8/9/21 5:04 p.m.

We have a 2011 Sportwagon TDI w/ Kermit tune on the engine and DSG. I like it overall. We've put about 20k miles on it since we bought it at 60k miles. It's been reliable up until recently when the head unit up and died. Ours has the part # that ends in C which are the most failure prone. I found a replacement on ebay for $120 and we're back to listening to some tunes. About a year ago the panoramic sunroof did leak a wee bit. Hasn't happened again. Yet.

Brotus7 Dork
8/9/21 5:51 p.m.

I have an 09 sportwagen with the 2.5 and a 5 speed, and a '11 GTI with the 2.0t TSI and a 6 speed.  I've considered selling the GTI and replacing it with cash in my pocket and another 5 cyl sportwagen more than once. We've put 60k on the wagon, at 167k now, and it's needed nothing. Not bad for a $4500 car!

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