Joe and Jean both make excellent points, but there's one nagging issue that most people seem to forget. The current Rabbit is every bit as charming and entertaining as the last-generation Mini Cooper, and yet, climbing behind its wheel, I find myself consumed with worry over its build quality. It feels nice, yes, and it drives wonderfully, but what of future repairs? I know a lot of people with current-era Volkswagens (Jettas, Golfs, Rabbits, GTIs, Passats, the whole lot), and every one of them has a repair horror story to tell. Entire months spent in the shop. Electrical glitches. Interior rattles and leaks. Recurring driveline issues. And almost all of them happened once the cars left their factory warranty period. Most of these people have had such poor experiences that they've sworn off the brand altogether. VW owners, it seems, are universally in love with the way their cars drive but perpetually frustrated with the ownership experience.
It's not like this is a new concern. Volkswagen reliability has been an issue for over a decade, and as the company's cars increase in complexity, horsepower, and capability, the issue doesn't seem likely to disappear. The Rabbit is enormous fun to drive and every bit the no-compromises small car that America needs, but I can't say that I'd ever buy one, or recommend one to a friend. Here's hoping that VW takes care of its ills before its customers walk out the door-the Rabbit, at least, deserves better.
Sam Smith, Associate Editor