Check for vacuum leaks.either use a propane blowtorch (switched on very low BUT WITH NO FLAME!)When the gas enters the leak the revs will increase... OR if you're not confident with this, use a spray water-bottle with water and some washing-up liqud. the bubbles will disappear where the leak is. The leak will be between the air meter and the head.
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My mk3 1996 16v 2ltr was playing up, wouldnt start when cold, wouldnt rev above 4500-5000. I changed the ignition switch, ecu relay, petrol pump relay, plugs,plug leads, coil, and finally, checked the hall sender on the dizzy, and found a broken wire in the dizzy body. Got a 2nd hand dizzy from a breakers for 40 quid, (150 or more new) and all is well. (I actually took the car to two garages and they couldnt find the problems, no faults registered on vagcom).
sounds like your inlet manifold hedgehog type heater.... a little electric heater in the inlet manifold basically for cold running.. much like diesel glow plugs kind of idea... this heater is usually bolted up into the bottom of the inlet manifold and has one feed wire to it...