• Mar 25, 2009
Back in 2006, Volkswagen of America's public relations department had what they thought was a brilliant idea to rename the fifth-generation Golf as the Rabbit... again. Back when VW's first front-wheel-drive hatchback replaced the iconic Beetle in the United States, it was introduced as the Rabbit, despite the fact that the rest of the world knew it as the Golf. VeeDub apparently thought that we megalomaniacal Americans preferred our own personalized nameplate over what the rest of the world got. Not anymore.
It seems that the marketing move did little to influence actual sales of the vehicle, so it's back to the drawing board. According to Car and Driver, when the sixth-generation hatchback hits American shores, probably as a 2010 model, it will once again be christened the Golf, and hopefully for good this time.



[Source: Car and Driver]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 59 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think Rabbit is a cool name for a car.

      Golf is a game.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So is Polo. And the vast majority of the world has known the car as a Golf since 1974.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Golf means "Gulf" in German.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I prefer the VW Jackalope

      or Jackalope' if your French.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Probably would not of made a difference, this car would of sold better with a more fuel efficient motor.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Fast killed the rabbit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've been unable to call this car Rabbit, mainly because I keep forgetting. Hasn't the Golf name been used here longer than the original Rabbit nameplate anyway? You can't take a car that looks like a mild refresh of a previous model and expect people to suddenly think of it differently by changing the name. Ford learned this the hard way with 500/Taurus/Montego/Sable/Freestyle/Taurus X as well.

      At least when they brought the Golf name over the first time, it looked substantially different (relatively speaking) than the Rabbit we had had for years, so it didn't seem as much of a stretch.
        • 5 Years Ago
        sorry, somehow I missed the (brand new) part about the Scirocco.

        Either way, it sure seems that 20+yrs is plenty to hold a grudge.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Regardless, in the eyes of the VW faithful, the Mk5 is the least like a Golf compared to the other generations. They brought back the handling characteristics of the early cars, but many people feel they missed the boat completely on the styling front. As I mentioned before, myself(a VW entusiast) as well as others I know a the large portion of the general public, have a tougher time telling apart a Mk1 Rabbit and a Mk2 Golf. I do not even remotely have the same difference telling a Mk5 Rabbit apart from a Mk4 Golf. Nonetheless, all are recognizable as VW's(most people just assume they are all Golfs due to 20+yrs of branding)

        I just think that if your point was more along the lines of your last post, you did a poor job of proving it in your first post. You mention the evolutionary changes of the car from generation to generation and consider those to be "substantial" yet ignore the truly substantial changes made to later generations.

        Basically, I think that the original change to Golf from Rabbit was easy to make primarily because Americans had only known the car for a single generation at that point, as opposed to decades(like the recent change or the Taurus to 500 change). Other than that, I think you are just searching for reasons that aren't there.

        People call the Rabbits(of both generations) Golfs because that's what they are familiar with. They have been called Golfs for over 2 decades in the US and that's what resonates with people, not the minor changes made from the Mk1 to the Mk2 and the name change to Golf. In other words, had the car kept the Rabbit name and suddenly now VW wanted to change it to Golf, you'd be more attached to the Rabbit name by this time.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've actually spent very little time waiting for my VW's(I've had two) to be repaired. Mine were(and are) doing very well reliability-wise.

        I'm possibly overanalyzing your simple observation because that's what you based your entire premise on. Seems completley reasonable to me.

        I'm sorry to hear you are a former VW enthusiast considering that your last experience with a VW was likely a few decades back(assuming you bought a Scirocco new, if it were used then you shouldn't blame the car necessarily).

        Either way, I think we can agree on a major point(and the crux of my argument):
        - "Hasn't the Golf name been used here longer than the original Rabbit nameplate anyway?" -
        That is the main point we both seem to have and the primary reason for the name to stay Golf.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Have you actually seen a Golf and Rabbit next to each other?

        Even as a VW enthusiast, I have a tough time telling them apart occasionally.

        A Rabbit is a Mk1(Rabbit name only used in the US), the Golf name(in the US) started with the Mk2 cars. The vast majority of people would not be able to easily tell them apart.

        Plus, your assumption that the Mk5 cars are a "mild refresh" of the Mk4 cars just shows even more that you have no clue what you are talking about. The Mk5 cars are significantly more different from the Mk4 cars than the Mk2 cars were from the Mk1 cars. The Mk5 is a completely new vehicle compared to the Mk4. Different design, different engines, different suspension, different interior, different platform etc. If nothing else, the Mk6 cars are considered a refresh of the Mk5 platform.

        Here are a few pics to prove my point:

        Mk1(Rabbit)
        http://www.vwvortex.com/gallery/albums//Volkswagen/Golf%20-%20GTI%20-%20Rabbit/Golf%20I/Rabbit%20(USA)/01.jpg

        Mk2(Golf)
        http://www.vwvortex.com/gallery/albums//Volkswagen/Golf%20-%20GTI%20-%20Rabbit/Golf%20II/Golf%20(Europe)/01.jpg

        Mk4(Golf)
        http://www.vwvortex.com/gallery/albums//Volkswagen/Golf%20-%20GTI%20-%20Rabbit/Golf%20IV/Golf%20-%20USA/01.jpg

        Mk5(Rabbit)
        http://www.vwvortex.com/gallery/albums//Volkswagen/Golf%20-%20GTI%20-%20Rabbit/Golf%20V/Rabbit/001.jpg

        Here's also one shot of all 5 generations together:
        http://www.vwvortex.com/gallery/albums//Volkswagen/Golf%20-%20GTI%20-%20Rabbit/Golf%20V/Generations/066.jpg

        All that said, I prefer the Golf name just due to tradition. Golf is the name they've used worldwide and it's far more well-known. I still have yet to consistently refer to the Mk5 cars as Rabbits, I always still call them Golfs. Plus, Golf will go a lot better with Polo once they bring those here too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Uhhhh, I think you're overanalyzing what was a simple observation I made. Perhaps you're just easily agitated from spending so many hours waiting for your VWs to have their numerous problems repaired? ;)

        I say this as a former "VW enthusiast," who was enthusiastic until absolutely everything that could break on my Scirocco (brand new) did. My point stands.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Wassership Down". I see what you did there.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let me touch it...
      Let me feel it...
      Let me grab it...
      That phat rabbit...

      (Timbaland feat. Ludacris, "Phat Rabbit" -- find it on Songza or Imeem)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I see yours and raise you one.

        "Or maybe if your neighbor does you a huge favor
        And he sells you that rabbit that's been sitting in his yard
        You fix it up.. you trick it out.. you give it rims.. you give it bump
        You give it all your time because that's all you can think about"

        ("A Life In The Day Of... Benjamin Andre" by Outkast on the Speakerboxx/The Love Below album)
      • 5 Years Ago
      This makes sense if they plan on calling the Polo the Rabbit when it comes to America - smaller car would fit the Rabbit name better....otherwise, I like the Rabbit name. Oh well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Renaming cars for different markets is a stupid idea unless it's necessary due to cultural/language differences. I said from day one when Rabbit came out that it was just stupid marketing people in their mid 20s trying to be creative...in reality all it does is devalue the model, devalue the brand and there is ZERO benefit to the overall image. It should be Golf pure and simple...
        • 5 Years Ago
        just as long as we don't get that city golf the canadians have. LOVE canada, HATE that car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Stick with the Rabbit nameplate. much better.

        rename the GTI the Hare, and the R32 the Wild Hare.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Across the pond in Europe they have had a similar identity crisis for the Jetta. Traditionally the Golf outsells the Jetta 10:1 across Europe so in a bid to improve sales VW went through a couple of renamings before settling back on Jetta.

      The Jetta III was the Vento, the IV was the Bora and for the V onwards they went back to Jetta. Still no one bought them though. :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm with you Swede. I have an estate car here in the US because their obsession with saloon cars drives me batty.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ah, so that is why I see BORA on the back of Jettas once in a while. I thought it was for some aftermarket kit or something. What a stupid customization.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Both the Vento and Bora retained their Jetta names only in North America and South Africa. When the world reverted back to Jetta, a few select markets switched to Bora. Odd indeed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      First, I wonder how many people got the inference to the book Watership Down. Anyway, VW needs to pull their head out. Badge engineering does not work for GM, why would it work for VW? Naming the same car Golf, then Rabbit, then Golf...dumb. People are not brand loyal like they used to be. Take the baby boomers: they would buy what there parents bought. If their dad bought a Mercury, they keep buying Mercury, even though the Ford is the same car with a different grille. I do agree with Vegas Style Guy, VW largely does not get cross shopped with other brands in it's class, because it is perceived to be more expensive.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I wonder if the reference was made to the Adams novel or the Bright Eyes song?
        • 5 Years Ago
        "First, I wonder how many people got the inference to the book Watership Down."

        Those people who are intelligent?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The book is about a rabbit.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's called "brand equity". A big part of the success of the Corolla, Camry, Civic, and Accord models is that Toyota and Honda haven't changed the names. Ford realized they screwed up by killing the Taurus name and VW has just realized that reverting back to the Rabbit name was a mistake.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Doesn't everyone have to read it in 6th grade?

        But I do agree the reference may have gone over the head of many.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't really see the Rabbit name as a major problem. It's meaningful at least and rabbits have the reputation of being quick and agile. I guess the Golf is a popular nameplate, but VW has supposedly had some quality improvements (emphasis on supposedly ... I'm hearing mixed messages) in recent years, so I don't know why they want to go back to a name they used when they weren't so good. The main role VW seems to play in the North American market is having the only affordable European cars around, and appealing to people who don't want Detroit or Japanese and have a little extra money to spend, but not that much extra. The Rabbit seems well positioned in that context.

      People keep commenting on the feminine nature of this car, but it doesn't really read that way to me, unlike the bug. Is it just the wacky advertising, or am I missing something here? Obviously it ain't a Mustang or a truck, but its looks are fairly neutral and understated inside and out, and performance is respectable for its class and price point.
      giggles123
      • 5 Years Ago
      i dont think the rabbit name had anything to do with the sales. rather it was the stupid ad campaigns. i remember there was like a whole spring and easter theme for the cars, and it just seemed like it appealed more to a female audience. its strange how vw can make these kinds of ads, and then wonder why other cars like the beetle have such horrible sales in germany (mainly because they too associate it as being a chick car, hence why they are trying to come up with a newer, more masculine design for it), and no self respecting guy in the US would ever catch himself driving one.
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