Mk3 golfs look derpy, but they're small and speedy along with reliability.
It is super reliable if the normal upkeep is done on a consistent basis. I have modified mine (lowered, stage one clutch, euro spec angel eye headlights, front strut brace, RAM air intake, etc. ) And so she requires a little more maintenance than normal, but she's been reliable for four years. She really hates the winter, though. I have gone through four locking cylinders in the four years I have owned the VW. Parts are a little more expensive because it is euro, but there are a few good websites that make them more affordable. Doing the work myself or having friends do it really helps on the cost of maintenance also, so I do not know how affordable a VW can be through a dealership. I drive hundreds of miles to Montana to see my parents and the VW never has any issues making the trip. No overheating or anything and the cloth seats are nice and comfy. At about 170k miles, the biggest issue I have had is replacing a bearing in the rear and a hub and bearing in the front as well as the front axles, but they were all essentially weekend/day projects. I have a very small coolant leak, but it is not much of an issue - just a matter of checking fluids often which should be being done anyway.