TO THE POINTWhat’s New? The 2006 VW Rabbit is all new, replacing the Golf as the entry model in the lineup. Choose between a three- or five-door hatchback in a single trim. Selling Points: Fun to drive, front comfort, quality materials, useful utility, low-emission engine, top-notch safety equipment Deal Breakers: Unimpressive fuel economy, unimpressive acceleration Our Advice: Despite the Rabbit’s wholesome goodness, the Ford Focus and Mazda 3 are strong alternatives to consider unless you must have a Vee-Dub badge.
Nuts and BoltsThe standard 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine makes 150 horsepower but boasts a broad torque band, making it feel lively underfoot. We averaged 19.4 mpg in the city, less than the EPA’s 22-mpg estimate.
Essentially a Jetta with a hatchback body, the Volkswagen Rabbit shares many of its mechanical attributes with the Jetta 2.5 sedan. The same 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine makes 150 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of torque, with 90 percent of its motivating force available between 1,700 and 5,000 rpm.
An optional six-speed automatic includes “normal” and “sport” modes, along with Tiptronic manual control. Fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS/EBD and brake assist mesh with variable electro-mechanical rack-and-pinion steering to yield a traditional Germanic feel. Anti-Slip Regulation (traction control), Electronic Differential Lock and Engine Braking Assist are all standard. Electronic Stabilization Program (stability control) is optional on both models.
Weighing between 2,974 and 3,173 lbs, depending on the transmission choice and number of doors, Rabbits save a few hundred pounds over their Jetta counterparts, subsequently giving them hare-like agility while potentially increasing fuel efficiency. VW reports that the Rabbit’s EPA fuel economy ratings are 22 city and 30 highway mpg. However, over the course of 68.3 spirited city miles, we observed a disappointing 19.4 mpg.