2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S Review
The 2008 VW Rabbit added an “S” and another 20 horsepower over the 2007 VW Rabbit. The 20 hp is welcome; the “S” seems a bit superfluous.
By Brendan Moore
I recently drove around a 2008 Rabbit S 4-door automatic for a couple of weeks, and have the following quick observations:
The Rabbit is a little more expensive than some of the other cars in its segment, but it gives you a high level of standard equipment and looks and drives more expensive than it is, particularly inside, where it leads the class in looks and materials.
The car’s exterior looks great from the rear, good from the side, and just OK from the front.
The Rabbit has a high level of standard safety equipment and some nice optional safety equipment like electronic stabilization (anti-rollover technology).
The inline-five engine is smooth, powerful, and meaty in the bottom end, and, it happily sips 87 octane gasoline, but the 6-speed automatic transmission is a little noisy. In fact, the one I drove was even noisier between 60 mph and 70 mph for some reason. Curiously, at 80 mph and up, it’s very quiet.
Brakes are excellent, and suspension is very good.
Observed (that means very roughly approximated) fuel mileage was very good at a sustained 80 mph across Arizona and New Mexico.
On that same trip, it was staggeringly hot outside (as high as 108° F) and the standard AC works very, very well.
The standard stereo has a 6-disc CD changer, 10 speakers, a built-in MP3 jack (hidden in the glovebox), and it is a pretty good unit for a factory sound system.
Of course, the hatchback swallows a lot of gear and groceries.
The Rabbit S is not available without daytime running lights, which is a huge pain for those people that would prefer not to have their headlights on during the day.
Speaking of lights, foglights are not available at all on the Rabbit S, which is certainly a negative on the Pacific Coast where foglights are actually needed sometimes and are not just a fashion accessory.
Our car came without a sunroof and the headroom in the Rabbit sans sunroof is expansive and is appreciated – something to consider if you’re tall.
Despite trying for thousands of miles, I just couldn’t seem to ever get the seat adjustment perfect. All I managed was “pretty good”.
The rear seats will actually fit normal-sized adults in them, and the rear AC vents were much appreciated by those adults in the hot weather.
The switchblade-type key fob (with remote locking) is pretty nice except for the fact that I keep my car keys in back pocket, and when I sat down anywhere, this would invariably depress the button for the release mechanism on the key fob and cause the key to pop out.
Last, but certainly not least, the fit and finish looked great on the car, and there were no quality issues in a week of hard driving. Of course, people that have problems with their Volkswagens always seem to get hammered with those problems later in the ownership experience, not in the beginning, so its difficult to say how much weight initial fit and finish should carry in this instance.
That’s it – overall, the verdict on the 2008 VW Rabbit S is very positive. I think most buyers will find the slight price premium worth it over the segment competition that is lower in price. For the cars that are higher in price (I’m looking at you, Audi A3 and Mini Cooper S), it seems like quite the bargain.
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