The Rabbit Lives: The 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition

Front 3/4 view of the 2019 Volkswagen GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition
The 2019 Volkswagen GTI 2.0 T Rabbit Edition.
We've sung the praises of the Volkswagen GTI here at TireKicker before---in fact, just last year, when we drove the fully loaded 2018 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn and were not the least bit deterred from our admiration by the sticker price which read $37,020 as tested.

So imagine how we feel about the same usefulness, a shade more performance and very nearly the same fuel economy for about six grand less.

Rear 3/4 view of 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition
2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition.
This is the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition.  It benefits from the same eight-horsepower boost as all GTIs this year, but in a tribute to the beginnings of the GTI in America 36 years ago when it was the hot version of the Rabbit, it boils the package down to the basics. 

For a sunroof, nav, automatic climate control or the killer Fender audio system, you'll need to get the SE or the Autobahn.  In essence, this is the base GTI S with 18-inch gloss black alloy wheels, a black Vmax rear spoiler and black side mirror caps, cloth seating surfaces with Clark Plaid inserts and Rabbit Edition accents , Rabbit Editon red-stitched floor mats front and rear and a discreet little bright rabbit badge below the right taillight.

And that's no bad thing.  Especially when it puts the base price at $29,995 and offers no extra-cost options other than the dealer-installed stuff like cargo organizers, wheel locks and different styles of floor mats.

On the last Thursday of June, Western Automotive Journalists had a dinner meeting in South San Francisco.  I took the GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition to the Bay Area, having a relaxed lunch with my friend and WAJ President Emeritus Brian Douglas, who, knowing I had some time to play with before I had to be at the pre-dinner board meeting, suggested a route perfect for the GTI:

Map of long way from Half Moon Bay to South San Francisco
Half Moon Bay to South San Francisco (source: Google Maps)
The drive could be as short as 21.3 miles, but what's the fun of that?  Brian suggested I go south, rather than north, ten miles down to San Gregorio, then turn inland on Highway 84 through the La Honda Creek Preserve and then up Highway 35, all of which runs through some of the most beautiful woods on the San Francisco Peninsula, affords breathtaking views of both the Bay and the Pacific from certain places, and is twisty and turny in ways that only a car like the GTI can exploit properly.

Interior view of 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition
2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition.
With 228 horsepower on tap, a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission with Tiptronic and paddle shifters, a nice fat steering wheel and grippy, supportive cloth seats, the GTI carved up the midsection of the Peninsula, never making me regret that I'd chosen a 54.3-mile route to cover 21.3 miles.

The great thing about the GTI, in any guise, is that it has just enough power, and makes it easy for the driver to access just the right amount of boost, braking and turning for any given moment. 

Standard for your $29,995 in the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Rabbit Edition:

  • Engine start/stop system.
  • Four-wheel independent sport suspension.
  • VAQ limited-slip front differential lock.
  • Vented front and rear disc brakes with red calipers.
  • Anti-lock braking.
  • Anti-slip regulation and engine brake assist.
  • Electronic brake-pressure distribution and hydraulic brake assist.
  • Electronic stability control and electronic differential lock.
  • Intelligent crash response system.
  • Rear-view camera system. 
  • Tire pressure monitoring.
  • Automatic LED headlights.
  • LED daytime running lights.
  • LED taillights.
  • Adaptive front lighting.
  • LED front fog lights with low-speed cornering lights.
  • Heated, foldable, power-adjustable side mirrors with integrated turn signals.
  • Rain-sensing, variable intermittent front wipers with heated windshield washer nozzles.
  • Rear window washer and wiper.
  • Red GTI badges on grille, front fenders and rear hatch.
  • GTI logo on front brake calipers.
  • Manual climate control.
  • Leather-wrapped, three-spoke, multi-function sport steering wheel with paddle shifters.
  • Tilting and telescoping adjustable steering column.
  • Six-way manual driver's seat with lumbar support and power recline.
  • Six-way manual front passenger's seat with power recline.
  • Heated front sports seats.
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat with armrest, storage and pass-through.
  • GTI interior with red accents and black leather.
  • Front center console with cupholders, armrest and storage.
  • Ambient interior lighting, front footwell lights and illuminated vanity mirrors.
  • Carpeted cargo area with adjustable floor, retractable cover and 12V power port.
  • Stainless steel pedal cluster and illuminated GTI metal door sill scuff plates.
  • Forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
  • Blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Cruise control.
  • Keyless access with push-button start.
  • Six-speaker AM/FM audio system with USB and Bluetooth connection.  
  • Apple CarPlay.

Again---$29,995.  Now factor in that it's a family sedan that seats five, a cargo hauler when the rear seat is folded down, goes from 0-60 in 5.7 seconds, according to Motor Trend, and gets an EPA-estimated 25 city/31 highway.  

Even with the $895 destination charge, the bottom line is only $30,890.  If you want one in your driveway, hurry.  VW is only going to build a few thousand of these---in fact, they've already been built---and every one that goes home with someone else is one less chance to find yours.