Volkswagen Rabbit

In 1974, Volkswagen began production of its latest vehicle, which was a replacement for the Volkswagen Beetle. Until 1985, the Volkswagen Golf was marketed as the Rabbit in the U.S. and Canada. The nameplate changed in 1985 to the Golf to bring the model in line with the rest of the world. Twenty years later, Volkswagen reversed the nameplate change by calling the 2006 model year the Rabbit in the U.S. and Canada again. Instead of using the word Rabbit, Volkswagen introduced a small chrome bunny icon in mid-hop as the nameplate. This was short-lived as the Rabbit nameplate was returned to Golf for the 2010 model year.

More on the Volkswagen Rabbit
About the Volkswagen Rabbit

The Volkswagen Rabbit was introduced at a time when Americans were focusing on smaller cars with better fuel economy. This was stemmed in part by the oil embargo of the early and mid-1970s. Available as a three-door and five-door hatchback, convertible, and a small pickup truck, the Volkswagen Rabbit was designed to provide a high-quality compact car that felt roomy inside with excellent handling and performance. The same concepts were used in the re-launch in 2006, with a functional, yet high-performing car that had excellent fuel economy.

Volkswagen Rabbit Features

In 2003, the fifth generation of the Volkswagen Golf launched in Europe but was not marketed in North America until 2005. When this generation of the Golf was unveiled for the 2006 model year in the U.S. and Canada, it was renamed as the Volkswagen Rabbit. The new version of the Rabbit was powered by a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that produced 150 horsepower and 170 lb-ft and was significantly larger and heavier than the earlier version.

The re-introduction of the Volkswagen Rabbit provided little choice for drivers. It was a three or five-door hatchback with only one trim level and one engine option. Although only one trim level was available, the quality of the interior was higher than most of Volkswagen’s competitors. Features like air conditioning and powered seats and mirrors were standard in the three-door hatchback, while the five-door had other features including heated seats, a fold-down armrest in the rear seat, and an upgraded stereo. The Volkswagen Rabbit could be purchased with a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission. A Tiptronic transmission allows the driver to operate in full automatic mode or to manually make gear shifts.

The second generation of the Volkswagen Rabbit was only available for three years, and underwent little change during that time. For the 2008 model year, the engine was modified so that it produced 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft. The three-door and five-door hatchback could be equipped with the manual and automatic transmission until the launch of the 2009 model year. When the last model of the Volkswagen Rabbit was released, the five-door hatchback was equipped with the six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission only. Drivers could still choose between the manual and Tiptronic transmission in the three-door model.

The launch of the sixth generation of the Volkswagen Golf in 2009 for the 2010 model year saw the end of the Volkswagen Rabbit nameplate once again as Volkswagen reverted back to Golf in the U.S. and Canada.

Volkswagen Rabbit Evolution

The first generation of the Volkswagen Rabbit was a front-wheel drive three or five-door hatchback and was introduced into the U.S. and Canadian markets for the 1975 model year. By converting to a front-wheel drive, forward water-cooled engine layout, Volkswagen was able to produce a smaller and lighter car that still provided plenty of room for passengers. It initially came equipped with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 70 horsepower and a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. This generation of the Volkswagen Rabbit was in production until 1984 when it was replaced by the second generation of the Volkswagen Golf.

Throughout the production run of the first generation of the Volkswagen Rabbit, it underwent several changes to the interior, exterior, and mechanics. For each model year, slight modifications were made to the style and engine to increase its size and power. In 1982, the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI was launched for the 1983 model year. The Volkswagen Golf GTI was on sale in Europe since 1976, and the North American version had the same chassis and similar body to the European version. The engine for the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI was a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 90 horsepower. It was equipped with a five-speed manual transmission and produced a fuel economy of 25/30 mpg city/highway.

With the launch of the second generation of the Volkswagen Golf, the Rabbit nameplate disappeared until 2005.

Select a Volkswagen Rabbit Year

2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

Compact, Hatchback

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit features the same sporty yet practical design as prior models, but gets a standard automatic transmission for its four-door version.

2008 Volkswagen Rabbit

Compact, Hatchback

The 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit has the solid build typically found with German engineering.

2007 Volkswagen Rabbit

Compact, Hatchback

The 2007 Volkswagen Rabbit hatchback aims to please young drivers with its budget-conscious price and upscale European design.