If you're looking for an answer as to why VW renamed its Golf to Rabbit, one only need consider the resurrection of the New Beetle. Call it Rabbit or call it Golf, the car still packs the same basic goodness. Like the base Jetta, the entry-level hatch is motivated by the 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. Peak horsepower resides at 150. More impressive is its torque delivery. Off the line, the Rabbit feels genuinely quick.
It suffers from the same sort of soft suspension woes as our long-term Jetta 2.0T. The good news is that VW appears to have finally exorcised its base engine demons with the new five-potter--anyone remember a certain naturally aspirated 2.0-liter? Me neither.
The rest of the Rabbit is adequately sensible. Not necessarily all that exciting, just sensible. Another area where new VWs shine is passenger space, plenty of knee- and headroom regardless of your location within the vehicle. Equipping it with a five-speed transmission might seem a bummer, but the manual gearbox is really well suited to the engine. The party's pretty much over after 4000 rpm anyway. If you need six gears, best opt for the automatic.
We watched as Neuspeed dis-assembled the Rabbit that would become Thunder Bunny II (see page 64) and were mightily impressed by the car's overall build quality. You can get trademark German engineering for just less than fifteen grand. Seems to me a pretty good deal.
2007 VWRABBIT 2.5L
Transverse front engine,front-wheel drive
2.5-liter in-line five, dohc,four valves per cylinder
Peak Power: 150 bhp @ 5000 rpm
Peak Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 3750 rpm
0-60 mph: 9.0 sec.
Top Speed: 130 mph
Fuel Economy: 22 city/30 hwy
Price as Tested: $16,070
From the Hip
+ Good fuel economy, great torque curve
- A distinct frumpiness to it