Initially, I was drawn to the Rabbit coupe's styling, but its performance has been what's impressed me most since leasing it. In 'Drive' mode, it's gutsy, in a small car kind of way, but in 'Sport' mode, it's a different car! I've had cars with 'Sport' modes before and have noticed little difference. When I put the Rabbit in 'Sport' mode, its performance is similar to the Honda S2000 I used to drive, with better low end torque than the S2000. I have kept up with Porsches off the line in 'Sport' mode, granted they could roast the Rabbit over the long haul, but the point was to see if the Rabbit was a gamer. It is up for any challenge. Good, and powerful, things come in small packages!
Obviously, 'Sport' and shiftable mode, lane change turn signal, iPod adapter and center arm rest, the gauge and control lights, the VW emblem hatchback lock is clever, and finally, the very best feature, its low price and low lease payments for a bunch of driving fun!
Better radio or antenna (get static on regular stations), keyless entry (had it on my last two cars, really miss it), smaller, sportier steering wheel.
Highs: torquey engine, great interior design, amazing spec list standard, cost of ownership is very low. Gas mileage is pretty poor, but if you're concerned about gas mileage you're probably not even going to be considering this car anyway. The 170 ft-lbs of torque is apparent from very low in the rev range, and worth the trade with gas mileage as far as I'm concerned. When compared to everything else $20k or less, the Rabbit shines through.
The 5-cyl sounds fantastic and is definitely a defining characteristic that sets the Rabbit apart from the rest of the crowd at that price.
The interior fit and finish is great, but random rattles seem to pop up everywhere. Not too worried about it considering that this is still a cheap compact car. The clutch takeup is kind of weird and almost impossible to launch smoothly.
This review is an update from my initial review 2/1/07. I now have 14,000 miles on the car and still like it. I was concerned about engine noise at first, but this seemed to lessen with the break-in. I like the growl! A few issues: on a couple occasions I've stalled after being in my heated office garage and then driving 5 mins in 40-50 degree temp. outside - stalled 2dif. times - exact same location each time. I have a rattle in the right vent. The driver's side window switches are peeling but dealer is replacing. My upper strut towers/bearing were replaced proactively by my dealer after I mentioned a slight steering noise - this fixed it.
Design - just a really clean interior and exterior. Seats - very comfortable for me. Engine/handling. Drives great!!
Sounds like there is a flaw in the strut towers, and some dash rattles. Redesign those. Though I've had a few issues, I still like the car a lot.
The gas mileage seems great (I average 37-40 mph highway), get up and go is great, love how it handles in rain and snow (with the exception of the wipers pushing water back onto the windshield). If it does rain, you must keep your windows closed or it pours inside. Within 6 months I began having problems with the front end - always seemed like something was rubbing and steering was not as tight. Well after 5 trips to the dealer they replaced the strut mounts, worked for about 2 weeks. After two more trips to the dealer, they are basically replacing the front end - not a good sign after one year.
I've had the Rabbit for 1600 miles and have enjoyed the drive. The fit of the car is good. The perfomance is great. The comfort is good. The 2.5 with the auto is a fantastic match. I have had plenty of go when needed. You have to watch your speed til you get used to the ride at speed (you'll be doing 80 before you realize it). The Rabbit's handling is very responsive with good road feel. When the weather is bad there is no problem either. The sound system is very good and easy to set up. I'm 6'2 and 250 and fit in the seats comfortably. The car has more room than you think. All in all I have enjoyed this car a lot and find myself smiling when driving. Drive it and compare.