2008 Volkswagen Rabbit Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Volkswagen Rabbit Hatchback

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Volkswagen Rabbit Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 5-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power Info is not yet available.
  • Fuel Economy 22/29 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit

  • With a polished interior, comfortable ride, solid German engineering and more power this year, the 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit remains one of the top picks in the economy hatchback class. You pay for what you get, however.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Roomy and upscale cabin, comfortable ride, high crash test scores, impressive build quality.

  • Cons

    Well-equipped four-door has high base price, a bit too vanilla when compared to sleeker rivals.

  • What's New for 2008

    Volkswagen's compact Rabbit receives a welcome infusion of power for 2008, celebrated with a modified moniker as it's now called the Rabbit S.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (19 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

I couldn't ask for a

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

My Rabbit is my first car and it's a fantastic car. My brother drove it for a year and then handed it down to me for a Jeep. It's really everything I wanted in a car. A good design, amazing handling and performance and very good gas mileage(just what I need for a job that's 22 miles away from my house). I haven't had any major problems yet. The only problem I had was my emergency brake wasn't disengaging all the way and it wore my back brakes really fast.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

I knew i made the

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

Well, I haven't owned it for too long, but I sure bought it for a reason. I wanted a car that was a good combination of looks, quality, performance, practicality, and comfort. This car executes all of these criterion very well. I was concerned with its fuel economy but I read on ways to increase my fuel economy (cruising in the highest gear possible, and being light on the gas, with the exception of my starts, driving 60 on the highway with cruise control enabled), I have been getting 28-30 in the city and about 35 on the highway at 60 mph. I've been getting a combined 32 mpg... good for 464 miles on a tank. It can get good economy if you want it too.

Iam in love

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

What can I say this rabbit has been a great car I've owned mine for 1 1/2 years and NO problem. People complain about mileage I average 24 city and 30 hwy . Maybe there are some really lead footed people out there to be getting less then 17 city . And the power is great for this type of car NO its not like a V8 camaro nor a V8 mustang but peppy enough ,if I wanted power I would have bought a V8 car. As far as price goes you cant get a better car for it. A friend just bought a 09 civic EXL great car but cost over $21,000 and mine has more room . My friends are impressed with the room this car has. The car I had before was a volvo960 wagon and the rabbit has more leg room.I will buy another one

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Vw convert

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

I have owned a lot of cars. I used to love rwd cars and trucks and hated fwd. I love my rabbit. The interior is way better than what my friends have. It looks great, especially with my optional 5 spoke Gray wheels which sets off the look of the car. The drivers door came off set and scratched the paint, warenty fixed that in 2 days. I don't understand the brakes, every car I have owned gets brake dust all over the front wheels but on this car it gets dust on the rear wheels. I was really hard on them a couple times to see what they are capable of and the rear brakes got so hot I could light a cigarette off it. I don't understand it but I haven't had a problem with them yet.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Wonderful car

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

Having driven the wheels off my 1991 Toyota Tercel (200k miles) I really wanted a new car. I can't believe what you get for the money. Features that would be extra on any other car are standard on my Rabbit. The only option I got was the i-pod adapter. Everything else, cruise, power windows/locks, air-con and more were standard. I love the sound of the engine and I think it has plenty of power. I wish it got a little better gas mileage, but it's not too bad. I'm leasing the car now, but I think that when the lease is up and the new version comes out I'm going to buy it. As long as they keep this up I'll be a VW customer from now on.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great car

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

First, I didn't give any "10's" because something has to be literally perfect. That said, for the money, a great car. It's broken in and the last 3 fill ups have been right around the 30 mpg combined mark. I drive very conservatively and about 60/40 hwy/cty. 5 spd manual allows low rpm shifting as well. 5th gear could be taller for the highway, or a 6th gear would help out too. Car comes standard with a good number of things like remote entry. Fun to drive and well made. I'm coming from a 2006 C-Class MB, so I had high expectations. Seems to have met them so far.

Full 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit Review

What's New for 2008

Volkswagen's compact Rabbit receives a welcome infusion of power for 2008, celebrated with a modified moniker as it's now called the Rabbit S.


For most economy cars, value is the key selling point. But with an emphasis on value, "fun to drive" and "enjoyable to own" often don't make it into the final product. With its 2008 Rabbit, however, Volkswagen aims to buck that trend. Now in its third model year, the latest Rabbit is actually the current stateside version of the company's Golf hatchback sold overseas -- a situation that harkens back to the nameplate's first appearance on our shores back in the '70s.

The 2008 VW Rabbit is based on the same platform as the compact Jetta and is therefore a bit larger than the old Golf, which pays dividends in terms of generous interior headroom and legroom. The Rabbit is powered by a smooth inline five-cylinder engine and hops along more impressively this year due to a 20-horsepower bump to a more competitive 170. A stiff body structure and multilink rear suspension combine to help deliver comfortably compliant ride and handling, though the taut European character of past generations is missing in action. Enthusiasts will also lament the loss of some steering feel due to the adoption of electric-assisted power steering.

Though perhaps not as fun to drive as previous models, the more powerful 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit offers reasonably satisfying performance and a spacious cabin for its size with above-average ambiance and quality. It's also well equipped, though that does mean a higher MSRP. Overall, we think most owners will find it more satisfying to own than domestic economy hatches like the Dodge Caliber or Ford Focus, though segment favorites like the Honda Civic and sporty Mazda 3 should not be overlooked. Those shopping for a two-door hatchback might also want to take a look at this year's refreshed Scion tC coupe or the stylish new Saturn Astra.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit comes as a two-door or four-door five-passenger hatchback in a single trim level called the S. Both body styles share the same wheelbase and overall length. Standard equipment includes 15-inch wheels, air-conditioning, heated outside mirrors, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat. Two-door hatches have a single-CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary jack and eight speakers, while four-doors receive a 10-speaker premium audio system with a six-disc CD changer and satellite radio.

The four-door also comes standard with upgraded cloth upholstery, eight-way manually adjustable front seats (versus six-way adjusters on the two-door), heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, rear-passenger ventilation and a rear center armrest with pass-through. Optional features include 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint, sport and ground-effects body kits, a sunroof (four-door only) and an iPod adapter.

Powertrains and Performance

All VW Rabbits are equipped with a 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A standard five-speed manual transmission sends power to the front wheels, while a six-speed automatic with manual-shifting capability is optional. Thanks to the engine's respectable amount of torque, acceleration is brisk at lower speeds with either gearbox, and the optional six-speed automatic makes great use of the engine's power band. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 2008 Rabbit is 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the five-speed manual -- a bit lower than average for this class of car. Models sold in California-emissions states earn a cleaner PZEV tailpipe emission rating.


Four-wheel antilock disc brakes, front seat side-impact airbags and full-length head curtain airbags are standard on all VW Rabbits. Stability control with electronic differential lock is optional, as are rear seat side-impact airbags on four-doors. In government testing, the 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit four-door scored four stars out of five for front occupant protection during frontal crashes and a top-ranked five stars for both front and rear occupants in side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Rabbit a top score of "Good" for the protection of occupants in both frontal-offset and side-impact crashes.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Rabbit's well-appointed cabin is certainly one of its strengths. At night, the gauges illuminate in stylish VW blue with contrasting red needles, and all the knobs and switchgear feel as if they were borrowed from a premium-priced Audi. The three-spoke steering wheel is perfectly shaped, and multiple adjustments for the front seats plus a tilt and telescoping steering column assure a proper driving position for drivers of different sizes and shapes. Two-door Rabbits have front seats that slide forward for easy rear-seat access, though four-doors are the obvious choice if you plan on regularly carrying more than a couple adults or children.

Driving Impressions

The 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit is tuned to provide a satisfying balance between a comfortable ride and capable, reasonably fun handling. Although not as taut and responsive through the curves as earlier generations, the current model is more refined, with reassuring, rock-solid stability and a surprisingly noise-free ride. The steering is direct and nicely weighted, but doesn't offer as much feedback as we'd prefer.

Talk About The 2008 Rabbit

Gas Mileage


  • 22
  • cty
  • 29
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs