A rabbit is a rascally creature, able to accelerate, turn, jump, and cuddle its bunnies virtually simultaneously. It can park its tail almost anywhere, bulks up for winter, and really enjoys summers when it can run free with abandon. Back in the 1970s, Volkswagen had a hopped up Rabbit that it showed getting air in a famous ad with the line, “Fly GTI.” The spirit of the creature, and the car, shine in the 2019 VW GTI Rabbit edition.
Fetching Sleek Looks
Exterior styling of the GTI channels the original Giugiaro-designed Rabbit’s two-box shape that makes it roomy in the front and roomy under the hatch. It’s obviously been streamlined over the decades, but looks especially fetching with the Rabbit Edition’s 18-inch gloss black wheels, rear spoiler, black mirror caps, and gray paint. It looks swell in blue too. GTI badges and red striping in the grille connect to the original. GTI-specific bumpers, ground effects, red brake calipers, and dual chrome tipped exhaust outlets add sizzle; LED adaptive headlamps, running lights, taillights, and fog lights shine the way.
Like a mommy bunny, the GTI cuddles its “kids” in warmth and love. It also keeps them well entertained. I’m a big fan of the deeply bolstered plaid cloth seats, especially when heated. Red-stitched floormats add to Rabbit flair. Manual climate control is easy to adjust. A thick leather-wrapped flat bottom steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, and large analog gauges add to driving enjoyment – as does Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth compatibility. Infotainment is easily controlled via swipe-screen, voice, or volume and tuning knobs.
Keeping the litter safe is a suite of safety tech. Forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitor, and rear cross traffic alert are part of the deal. Watch the rearview camera to keep fenders fully painted.
Power For The Sprint
Putting the sprint into this Rabbit is a 2.0-liter 16-valve turbocharged four-cylinder engine that conjures up 228 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed to the front wheels through a new 7-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic control. Auto stop/start, which pauses the engine at rest to conserve fuel, is annoying, but one button makes it stop. Drive without heavy sneakers to see 25/31-MPG city/highway.
When this agile hare is not trying to fend off WRXs, Civic Sis, and Focus STs, it drives like it was born to own the Autobahn. The four-wheel independent suspension glides over rough pavement, and is never harsh, but steps through two-lane backroads if it was bred for the leap.
The Mode select button allows drivers to configure the throttle and chassis from Eco to Normal and Sport. There’s even a custom screen to select your own preferences. Want the sensitive throttle with a comfortable ride? No problem. After a few hours on the Interstate, the throaty exhaust tone and stiff suspension were starting to wear, so I clicked from Sport to Comfort and it transformed into an entirely calmer experience. Happy Daddy Rabbit!
Out Of Hibernation, Into The Snow
During its stay, the GTI endured 10-degree temps and four inches of early morning snow while it hibernated in my driveway. Apparently, nobody alerted the snowplow drivers because the roads were a mess. All-season tires were acceptable on the front-drive car, but even with traction and stability control, changing them out for winter tread would have been the wiser move. Fortunately, the pilot was kept warm by a scorching heater and ultra-hot bun warmers.
Volkswagen is killing the Beetle, and the Micro Bus has yet to be re-born as an autonomous electric vehicle, so all we have is the GTI – especially in Rabbit Edition trim. It’s a car that loves morning commutes as well as weekend adventure, made very cool with black wheels, tartan seats, and little rabbit logos all around. Golfs start at just $21,945, but the GTI came to an also reasonable $30,890 all-in. That sounds like a hoppin’ good time!
Contact Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.
2019 VW Golf GTI Rabbit
- Five-passenger, fwd compact
- Powertrain: 228hp 2.0-liter T4, 7-spd auto trans
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Style, Powertrain
- Fuel economy: 25/31 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Puebla, Mexico
- Base/As-tested price: $21,845/$30,890