As the 7th generation of the Volkswagen Golf winds down, the German giant celebrates it with a cool Volkswagen GTI Rabbit edition.
Way back in 1975, a small Volkswagen car arrived in North America, set to replace the aging yet hyper popular VW Beetle. Elsewhere in the world, this car was known as the 1st generation Volkswagen Golf. Here, we called it the Rabbit. The following year, the company launched a car that was to define a genre: the Golf GTI.
I could end the story here and write “and the rest is history.” But that would be lazy. The Volkswagen Golf GTI went on to be one of the most successful and influential cars of its time. As the years and generations went by, the GTI lost some of novelty however, and unlike many of its would-be copies, it has always delivered.
A GTI is not Speed
Yes, the Volkswagen GTI has stood for performance, handling and for the 5th generation, it actually had a mascot named “Speed.” But these elements were a side-effect of the car’s built-in perfect balance.
This balance is a result of brilliant engineering, not over-compensating or a desire to boast. This has always applied to the GTI. This is why the car is modestly powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine. The EA888 TSI engine develops 228-horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque as of 1,500 rpm. On its own, the mill tells no story of wonderous power or massive acceleration. But again, this is not the point. If you want more, get a Golf R.
My Cornflake Blue tester featured what continues to be one of the best dual-clutch transmission reasonable money can buy. Now with 7 forward gears, it extracts all the power – none of it goes to waste. This is the crucial aspect.
A GTI is perfectly calibrated
Too often are we mesmerized by supercars that brags 600+ horsepower. The problem is that they cannot be all be used, if for more than a few seconds. The GTI can be exploited to the max, and the 7-speed DSG makes the most of it. The torque comes on tap quickly and it’s rewarding and non-threatening. The standard front differential lock manages everything with relative ease.
I might be making the GTI Rabbit seem average but before 6 seconds elapse, the 100 km/h mark comes and goes. But again, it’s not about the speed. While accelerating, the DSG pounds away the gears with incredible precision – it’s quite impressive to say the least.
The real gem, the real trick up the GTI’s sleeve is and should forever be the way it handles on the road. A GTI is not meant to pull 1 G of lateral acceleration. It was conceived to handle the daily grind is unexpected comfort along with a level of surefootedness that is equal parts exalting and reassuring. The GTI handles and responds wonderfully well to all driver inputs.
A 2019 GTI Rabbit is a good GTI
The heritage-inspired Rabbit Edition, the car I evaluated, holds one distinct advantage over the other GTIs, and that’s Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC). It is in large part responsible for the GTI Rabbit’s immense breadth of on-road abilities.
What’s more, steering is quick but never sharp or harsh and can be adjusted through the multiple drive modes included with the DCC. The brakes, also lifted from the Golf R, are immensely powerful – this may be the only mechanical aspect of the car that is over developed. It’s the best element to boost.
Physically, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rabbit is offered in Cornflower Blue, Urano Grey, Pure White and Deep Black Pearl. The obvious choice is the color of the car in the pictures. Other unique aspects include 18-inch black alloy wheels, a well-integrated black rear spoiler, LED headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), black mirror caps and Rabbit stickers. At $33,995, or $35,395 with the DSG, it’s nearly a bargain.
A GTI still has Clark-cloth seats, and more
The cabin sports Rabbit tags on the sweet Clark-cloth seats, red-stitched floor mats, keyless access with push-button start and many safety features such as Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert.
As well as being a superb driver’s car, the GTI continues to be one of the most talented compact family cars – it is a Golf after all. There’s plenty of room for five occupants and loads of gear. Included within the seductively subtle outer shell are an 8-inch touchscreen with motion detection, App-Connect smartphone integration (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), a Fender audio system with subwoofer and more.
A GTI is a good buy
Buying a Volkswagen Golf GTI, no matter the trim, is a wise and rewarding purchase. The “Rabbit” is special in that it will be unique to 2019 and only offered for a short while. We expect there will be a 2020 MK7 Golf GTI, this time a Wolfsburg Edition, and by 2021, the new MK8 GTI will arrive, or shortly thereafter.
As a side note, the Golf will not be returning to the US when the new generation of the car arrives. Rumor has it that it will come to Canada. Both countries will get the next-generation GTI and Golf R.