MK3 for all the reasons you told me to ignore.
As you stated yourself, you're inexperienced in the VW game. The MK4 2.0 is about one of the worst driving cars, ever. Especially with the slush box. My first VW was a 1996 gti 2.0, it was fun to drive. A friend had a brand new 99.5 MK4 2.0 GTI. It was absolutely horrible. Horrible. I cannot emphasize it enough.