2019 Volkswagen Rabbit Review

2019 Volkswagen Rabbit - Rabbit rejoins Golf's expanding family


Europe's largest automaker introduced its humble, diminutive
front-wheel-drive Golf back in the mid 1970's.  It's proven fortuitous
as this hatchback has not just survived but thrived, becoming one of the
best-selling nameplates to date with more than 35 million units sold during the
past 45 years.  

All that time, a sly Rabbit's been
lurking close by.

When the compact first arrived for sale
in the U.S. in late 1974, Volkswagen sold the vehicle under the 'Rabbit'
moniker (rather than Golf, the name the rest of the world enjoyed) until the
second-generation intro in 1985 when Golf absorbed the naming rights in the
U.S.  More than once has the fluffy, Easter-centric critter name disappeared
down the rabbit hole, only to spring up again. The name resurfaced in the U.S.
briefly in 2006, but was short lived... until 2019 when it popped up again.

circa 2019 enjoys a wide range of variants.  In addition to the base
Golf five-door hatchback, Volkswagen boasts an all-electric e-Golf version (not
sold in Chicagoland, but available coastally), longer wheel based Golf
Sportwagon, all-wheel-drive Golf Alltrack and two performance oriented
versions; Golf GTI and Golf R. Five assembly plants worldwide build Golf. It's
sold in 155 countries worldwide.

For 2019, Rabbit represents
a special edition within the Golf GTI family. The GTI branch designates a
higher horsepower choice. All 2019 GTI models, including Rabbit, add 8 more
horsepower (now reaching 228 when utilizing premium petro) to the 2.0-liter
turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Rabbits connect with a performance-leaning
seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Fuel economy checks in at 25
mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

A conventional Golf hatchback
enjoys a pertinent yet pedestrian 147 horsepower complements of a 1.4-liter
turbocharged engine. The fuel tank accommodates 13.2 gallons of fuel in all

From a driver's vantage, a dual clutch
transmission operates as seamlessly as a conventional automatic tranny with no
fancy footwork required.  The mechanics and science surrounding DC
transmissions have been known since the 1930s, but Golf was first to
mass-market its convenience and fuel-friendly behavior during its fourth
generation years (1999-2005). Other manufacturers soon followed. 

Two separate clutches share duties with one
handling odd-numbered gears and the other, even-numbered ones; synchronized
together through split-second timing technology. Holding gears during tight
cornering is one noticeable performance attribute. Other Golf GTI models come
standard with a six-speed manual transmission necessitating more foot fodder.

2019 Golf GTI Rabbit edition builds from the ground up with VW's scalable MQB
platform adorning newly launched or redesigned Volkswagens since
2014.  Golf was one of the first VW's to inherit MQB during its
seventh-generation 2015 redo. Translating MQB (Modularer Quer Baukasten) into
English we get 'Modular Transverse Matrix.'  This platform now adorns
current Jetta sedans, three-row Atlas crossover and all-new 2019 Arteon
flagship sedan.

Start-stop technology (SST) comes
standard.  At prolong stops, the four-cylinder turbo slips into a quiet
mode to save fuel, resuming duties once the right foot lifts from the brake
pedal.  A push button left of the automatic transmission shifter
disengages SST if desired.

For 2019 the four Golf GTI trims
include S, the all-new Rabbit edition, SE and Autobahn.  More standard
performance equipment adds to bottom-line pricing as Golf GTIs now include a
starting price of $28,490, a $1,180 upcharge from 2018.  Our
well-equipped dark grey Rabbit tester had a starting point of $29,995 and after
factoring the $895 destination charge, the bottom line ended at $30,890.

sport black gloss alloy trimming surrounded by all-season tires contrasting
exquisitely with red brake rotor housing.  Also expect black-trimmed
outside mirror caps, black hatch spoiler and red-stitched floor mats front and
back.  Red stitching also adorns the three-spoke manually-adjusting,
flat-bottomed steering wheel. Outside, the rear hatch sports a floppy-eared
chrome rabbit scurrying along the lower right edge. The limited-run 2019 Rabbit
edition offers four exterior colors: Cornflower Blue, Urano Grey, Pure White
and Deep Black Pearl.

The 2019 Rabbit edition comes with
user-friendly radar-enhanced safety nuances not standard in the base S
model.  This includes side blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic
alert and low-speed automatic front braking.

highly identifiable V over W circular logo centers the front, extra-narrow
grille which includes a honeycomb pattern and red bottom trim in Rabbit
editions.  In back, the chrome orb serves double duty as a company
logo and as a flip-up handle unlatching the hatch door. Dual chrome exhausts
are also Rabbit cues. Side belt lines retain a straight-across horizontal
format resting directly below body-colored strap-like door handles.

Rabbits of past eras, the 2019 varmint qualifies for Volkswagen's recently
introduced 'People's First Warranty.' This new vehicle limited warranty covers
the powertrain, transmission and mechanical parts and is fully transferable
between owners; not always the case with other powertrain
warranties.   Prior VW coverage was three-years/36,000-miles.
Another peace-of-mind perk; 24-hour roadside assistance covering towing, jump
starts and lock-out situations for three years or 36,000 miles.

it's hard to miss Rabbit's LOUD (visually, not audibly) plaid, cloth-type seat
inserts residing between side bolsters; a sight seemingly right out of the mid
1970's.  Front buckets manually slide forward and aft via an inboard
loop at the seat's lower front. Seats also offer mechanical vertical
adjustments via an outboard lever. Rabbit, as with all GTI trims, includes a
sport's suspension lowering the car by .06 inches. That's on top of conventional
Golf hatchbacks, which generally, sit closer to the ground than conventional
compact rossovers (such as VW's own Tiguan) delivering a sportier ride and

The single-zone HVAC system remains simple and
straight forward with eyes requiring minimal distraction from the road
ahead.  Three tactile dials below the Rabbit's in-dash multi-function
6.5-inch touch screen control fan speed, direction and temperature. Above, a
row of small push buttons monitor A/C, rear defroster and where available, heated
front seat functions.

Volkswagen's Standard Car-Net
App-Connect, integrates with Smartphone applications through Apple CarPlay,
Android Auto and MirrorLink and displays application icons within the flat
in-dash multi-color screen.

Row two seats and backrests
also include the mod plaid inserts along.  Seatbacks fold virtually
flat with a 60/40 split.  Cargo room swells to 52.7 cubic feet, enough
space to swallow a full-size bicycle. When prone, two adults fit with optimal
comfort within the confines.

Another nostalgic name from
VW's past is in the news as Volkswagen bids ado after seven decades of
service.  Back in 1949, Volkswagen introduced the Beetle to U.S.
roads. The Beetle Final edition circa 2019 is available in two front-drive
trims, a final edition SE and final edition SEL, both in hard-top and
convertible soft-top.

At a Glance

as tested:  $30,890

Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder

Horsepower: 228

Wheelbase: 103.6

Overall Length:  168.0 inches

Width:  70.8 inches

Overall Height:  70.8

Fuel Economy: 25 mpg city, 31 mpg highway

Warranty: Six years/72,000 miles

Assembly: Pueblo, Mexico

Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.