VW tries a little sleight of hand
With a little shuffling of its marketing deck, Volkswagen pulled off a surprise move for its 2007 entry-level offerings.
Instead of retaining the familiar Golf name for the fifth-generation version of its popular hatchback, Volkswagen slipped that moniker up its sleeve and brought back the original ‘Rabbit’ nameplate, which first hopped on the scene in 1975.
The world’s bestselling car, with more than 25 million sold over five iterations, the ’07 Golf, uh, Rabbit is available in both two- and four-door versions, starting at $19,990 and $20,990 respectively.
In the value assessment, this handsome hatchback is a deal, offering a high level of standard features and equipment for the money.
The two-door’s standard kit includes air conditioning, power windows, locks and heated mirrors, cruise control, height adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split-fold rear seat, in-dash CD player, electric-assist power steering, anti-lock brakes and an alarm system with immobilizer. To this, the four-door adds eight-way adjustable front seats, upgraded seat trim, centre armrest with storage bin, an upgraded centre console, rear-seat armrest with trunk pass-through, plus body-colour bumpers and side trim.
The only engine available is a 2.5-litre, inline 5-cylinder gasoline unit, putting out 150 horsepower. Its strongest suit comes with abundant low-end muscle, well suited to the acceleration demands of urban traffic conditions. Mated to a standard 5-speed manual gearbox, this engine should deliver 10.7 L/100 km (26 mpg) in city use and 7.2 L/100 km (39 mpg) on highway trips.
But if you’re looking for diesel economy you’ll have to wait a bit. Until tighter government regulations are met, VW doesn’t plan to offer a diesel Rabbit just yet.
What you won’t have to wait for is the new Rabbit’s terrific road manners. Its taut, planted road feel has a nicely balanced blend of performance, handling, cornering power and ride quality. Add in low cabin noise levels, impeccable interior appointments, quality materials and solid build quality and you end up with pretty good bang for your value buck.
And, on a similar note, Volkswagen hasn’t entirely abandoned those who just love the Golf. The previous generation four-door hatchback has been held over and reincarnated for 2007 as the City Golf — at a better price.
The Brazilian-built City Golf undercuts the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris in price at $14,900. VW’s trusty 2.0-litre, 115 hp, 4-cylinder engine comes standard, as do a 5-speed manual transmission and 4-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock system. Options include a 4-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, cruise control and an electronic stability control system. Loaded, the City Golf tops just $20,965.
Either way, VW looks to be holding a winning hand.
Volkswagen Rabbit 2.5