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.
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.
The Rabbit is fun to drive and inexpensive to purchase. Handling is very good. Acceleration from the 170 horse 5 cylinder is vastly better than the approx 120 horsepower and 4 cylinders of most cars at this price point. Interior space is good compared to the small exterior. From its price and size you might think it is an economy car but it is not. Gas mileage is poor (pathetic 22 MPH after 4 tanks). Dependability ratings are not nearly as good as an Asian car either. If you think of it as an inexpensive sports car you will be happy, if you think of it as something in the class of a bullet proof Honda or Toyota you may be disappointed. Overall I am neither very happy or unhappy with it.
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.