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.
by brian1121 on Feb 11, 2014 Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)
Bought this car brand new when I was 16, for just under $16,000 and haven't looked back since. It's pushing 7 years and over 100,000 miles now and no problems at all. Changing the oil every 10k miles and changing brakes as needed I'm sure helped the quality remain top-notch. Quick enough for getting around town along with decent fuel economy, however I wish the mpg were a little better.
by V WE on Jul 30, 2008 Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)
I have only had it for 5 days and wish I would have got an automatic. The motor seems lazy between idle and 1200 r.p.m.s , so I stall it quite often on takeoff. I have owned quite a few sticks in my life and never had such a problem. I love everything else about the car though. once I am moving it drives great and has plenty of power. I have owned some beetles over the years, a 63, 65, two 66's,a 68 and a 74. I always told my friends, If you can't drive a vw stick you will never be able to drive a stick period. So, is it the car or me ?
by Harry Lauer on Jul 16, 2008 Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)
I've had my Rabbit for a little over a month now and the car has been a joy to own. Nice switch from my 2003 gmc 2500 (which i have to have for work as I am a mason contractor). Lots of bang for the buck and the quality is amazing. Much nicer than any of the "other" small cars in that price range.
by Raymond on Mar 6, 2008 Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)
Bought car expecting to like it. Didn't expect to LOVE it. I needed something cheap to insure, and was still fun and good on gas/emissions. This best fit the bill after many test drives of the competition. Couldn't be happier. Value for the buck is truly the key here.
by Phoenix Guy on Feb 23, 2008 Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)
This car is great fun to drive. The build quality is excellent; it has plenty of power and torque, and the manual shifter is butter smooth. I was looking for an economical hatchback that would serve as a city car and also be comfortable on long trips. A hatchback made the most sense, since the most usual passenger is a 100lb. hound. He doesn't mind that the rear windows don't open. Still, with the back seat up, the car has plenty of room for the grandkids. My only complaint is, having found the ideal seat/steering wheel combo, I can't seem to adjust the seatbelt away from my neck.
by VW convert on Jan 4, 2008 Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)
I am 100% satisfied with my Rabbit. For me, the Rabbit was a perfect balance of economy and performance. I had considered a whole spectrum of vehicles- from a Toyota Yaris to a Mazda Mazda3 hatchback. The VW Rabbit sits somewhere in between those two models in terms of mpg and is competitive with the Mazda3's performance, though I might say the Mazda has better handling. One thing that the Rabbit, and German cars in general, have over any other car I was considering was it's awesome build quality. My Rabbit is a small car and is by no means a tank, but it feels as strong and tough as one. Hondas and Toyotas feel like tin cans compared to VW's. The Rabbit is also very zippy and fun to drive.
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.
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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.
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.
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