(This VW wanted me to own it so bad, its desperation for a loving, appreciative owner was only matched by the smallness of its personal pizza size 13" rims.)
VW's late-malaise offerings are the typical 3-box design. End. Seriously. This thing is SQUARE. The only more square car from 1990 was a Volvo. Germans and Swedes and boxes. And Schrodinger. The Tornado Red paint is faded, but still solid. Trim could use some freshening, but the classic design still stands out. Surprisingly, it's younger kids that give the most looks: comments include "OH MY GOD, YOUR CAR IS SMALL" "COOL CAR" and "HOW DID YOU GET A LUNCHBOX CAR?". The neat thing about the 1990 Jetta is that everyone either owned one, or knew someone that owned one. Here in Ontario, most have rusted away — so they're far and few between. As far as this specimen: Some rust on the driver's right fender (bubbling) and around the windshield. Typical spots.
This is actually the third "classic" VW I've owned. (1990, is stretching classic — I know) This is probably the NICEST interior I've seen in an older German econobox. Leather and cloth (!!!) and is in pretty good shape. Thankfully the other half can sew, as there is one rip. Seats are supportive, comfortable and still adjustable. That's a plus. Steering wheel is definitely 80's inspired and slightly off-centre, but comfortable. Dash texture is soft, not cheap feeling, but lower sections are rattley... Being 23 and all.
There are Amish farms in the area with more horsepower than this car. Torque is decent, and since the car is light — it never feels scary in town. On the highway, don't dream of passing, but you can comfortably get up to highway speeds within a normal period on an onramp.
Stops are confident, some noticeable rear drum fade on long hills. Drums are a bitch to change without proper spring tools. Enjoy.
Shot struts. So loud. Never uncomfortable but... Needs struts.
Car legitimately feels like it's on rails. Or a go-kart with a diesel sound. Understeer when pushed to the limit, as most front-drivers are. Extremely tossable however, always competent and a very fun little car. Hydraulic power steering, but great feel as opposed to the girlfriend's Mazda 3 with electric. Turning radius: From left-turning lane, into LEFT lane of opposite side of the road. This thing is TIGHT. Needs struts though. Some bounce without, can upgrade to 7 when that's fixed.
Butterchurn. Needs a bushing kit and possibly shaft shortening. Clutch feel is fantastic.
800 to 900km per tank. That's insane. Costs $50 to fill from empty at $1.19/L for diesel.
Not a perfect score because it's an older car. Parts break. Overall economy suffers due to this. Also, diesel conditioner and oil aren't as cheap as fuel.
Diesel. Turbo-spool. Decent stereo. Nuff said.
When the Germans speak of economy they mean it. No cupholders even.
23 year old car that gets better MPG than many new cars. Invested about $200 in parts/repairs so far. Pretty good I'd say. There's something about driving a new classic that makes you feel good, especially when people understand WHY it's your DD. Not a beater, a future classic.