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 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power Info is not yet available.
  • Fuel Economy 21/29 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 (17 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

No more vws

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

This 2008 Rabbit is the 2nd Golf/Rabbit in the family since 2003. The 1st was a 1999 Golf which nickeled and dimed us to death, mostly with lightbulbs, but also other sometimes unbelievable electrical failures. The reliability ratings on the 2006 and up VWs were vastly improved over the previous years, so I took a chance and bought this one in 2010, certified, from a VW dealer with 50K miles, as a graduation gift to my daughter. She couldn't afford to operate it so I bought it back from her with 59K miles thinking it would be a good work car for 3-4 years. WRONG! (continued below)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great quality, price and reliability

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

I have 90,000 miles on my car and it has been by far one of the best purchases I have ever made. The car starts without hesitation, stops on a dime, and has great pick up. VW offers a fairly comprehensive warranty and tends to repair certain items out of "goodwill" even when out of warranty. I never take my car to the dealer(unless it a recall) and have learned how to do every maintenance or repair on my own through the various forums that VW enthusiast keep up to date. This has helped keep my costs down while being able to own a safe German designed foreign car. For those without the ability to work on their own VW I would recommend checking out the prices for services in your local area.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Love vws

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

Great car, easy to handle, good in snow with Nokian snow tires on it, very good on gas. Bought it with 60 k miles. Now at 122 k with no repairs. Tires, oil, filters i.e. maintenance only. A couple of bulbs changed. That's all. Used to drive VW Passats, earlier with no major problems. The single issue is Check engine light which is turning on and off by itself. If you want a good VW buy one built in Germany.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful


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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

This car has been perfect through 36000 miles following up on the near perfection of our previous 04 jetta wagon over 93000 miles. It is a surprisingly competent, long-legged tourer.

Great 'dub

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

I upgraded from a 1999.5 MKIV Golf GLS to this 2008 2.5 2dr Rabbit. Awesome car. 16000 trouble free miles over my 1st year of ownership, great get up and go, great ride. Not as much storage space as before and the interior is not as refined as previous models, but still way nicer than the same priced JDM or US cars.

Good little car

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

After about a year with my Rabbit, I can finally write a review. The Rabbit is a fun little car to drive, with a lot of pep. The 6 speed tiptronic transmission is a lot of fun and very unexpected in such a low price car. The interior and build quality constantly amaze me after having Fords, Pontiacs, Chevys. The 2.5 engine doesn't mind being revved, and sounds pretty good when doing it. Although, it is a fairly thirsty little car, as I average 17 in city driving. It replaced a Crown Vic which was getting 12, so I can't complain that much. Not a bad car in winter either, never got stuck once with a good set of snow tires.

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


  • 21
  • cty
  • 29
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs