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In the Driver’s Seat: VW Rabbit 2.5

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Naming cars isn’t an art, and it isn’t a science—sometimes it’s just a stab in the dark. Hence the entrance and exit of the Five Hundred nameplate at Ford—and now, the return of the Rabbit moniker at VW.

Americans have dim, dark memories of the Rabbit, but it’s still more evocative than Golf, unless it’s a Buick in question. And with VW’s iffy history in naming new cars—Touareg and Phaeton come to mind—maybe Rabbit will be cleaned up by a good new generation of vehicles.

That’s what the 2007 Rabbit has cut out for it—and good thing it succeeds. We like the Rabbit’s new five-cylinder engine for its economy and its torque, even if it doesn’t have 200 hp like the engaging VW turbo four. The five-speed manual is decent, and the Rabbit’s brakes are nicely responsive.

It’s inside where the Rabbit excels, with great materials, good assembly quality and well-designed controls. That’s the price of admission with most German brands—and VW sets a high standard at the low end of the price spectrum.

What differentiates the Rabbit is its solid, responsive chassis and the overall quality of its interior materials. These truly exceed what's offered by Asian manufacturers at a lower price, and other European manufacturers at a higher MSRP.

VW could use its mojo back. Maybe the bunny will help.


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