2006 Volkswagen Rabbit First Drive
The Rabbit Runs Again
Kerri Martin, Volkswagen’s Director of Brand Innovation and the woman behind the return of the Rabbit, is responsible for another recent and successful nameplate revival in the United States; she previously served as a BMW marketing manager and reintroduced the Mini brand to Americans. “The Rabbit was always exclusive to the U.S. and Canadian markets; while the rest of the world had the Golf, we had the iconic Rabbit,” said Martin. “The reintroduction of the Rabbit represents Volkswagen’s commitment to this market and is a nod to the passionate North American enthusiasts who have an emotional connection with the Rabbit name.”
Though retaining the title of Golf throughout the rest of the world, the fifth-generation Rabbit destined for North America will be built in Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg, Germany, facility along with the recently introduced GTI, a performance-oriented Golf/Rabbit. Part of VW’s marketing plan is to stress the revived Rabbit nameplate as a unique, German-engineered model in a market segment that is gaining momentum in America, thus distancing it from competitors like the Dodge Caliber, Ford Focus ZX3 and ZX5, Mazda 3, Pontiac Vibe, and Toyota Matrix.
On sale now, and boosted by 30 percent more horsepower than the old Golf, the new Volkswagen Rabbit is slightly taller, longer and wider than before and conforms to California’s stringent PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) regulations. Three-door versions will start at $15,620, while five-door models will start at $17,620 (including the $630 destination charge). VW expects fully-loaded versions to top out around $20,000, and hopes to sell between 10,000 and 12,000 Rabbits during the upcoming model year.