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2006 Volkswagen Rabbit 2.5 - 2006 VW GTI Feature Comparison
VW Rabbit VS. VW GTI

So you've decided to purchase a sporty Volkswagen hatchback from your local Volkswagen Dealer, but You still haven't decided whether to go for the GTI or save some money and get the cheaper cousin to the GTI, the Rabbit 2.5 . The base price of the GTI is US$21,990 whereas the Rabbit starts at US$14,990, $6000 cheaper. There are several differences between the two models, some of which might not be apparent at first glance.

The most noticeable differences are the external ones. The GTI can be purchased in Black Magic, Tornado Red, Candy White, Reflex Silver and United Grey. All those colors can be purchased for a Rabbit except for Black Magic. Black Magic is replaced with Black Uni. Two more colors, Sage Green and Shadow Blue are available for the 4-door Rabbit. The Rabbit is available in both 2 and 4-door models, while the GTI is available with only 2-doors which is befitting for a sports coupe. For the sake of comparison I'll only be comparing the features of the 2-door Rabbit to the GTI.

Unlike previous Golf and GTI models, Volkswagen has decided to differentiate the two models with very distinctive front ends. The first thing you'll notice when looking at a GTI is its aggressive black front grille with honeycomb mesh and the trademark red strip and GTI badge. The Rabbit's front end is less glaring. The color of the front bumper and grill matches the rest of the body color for a more subtle look. The front headlamps of the GTI feature powerful Xenon headlamps along with the required headlight lens washing system, as well as front fog lamps integrated into the front bumper. The Rabbit on the other hand is equipped with standard halogen bulbs and is lacking fog lamps. If the Volkswagen Passat has low ego emissions, the GTI no doubt would fail that emissions test.

Volkswagen BadgesTaking a look at the rear of the cars reveals more exterior differences. The GTI features a rear spoiler, not available on the Rabbit, as well as oversized dual stainless exhaust pipes. On the Rabbit these exhaust tips are smaller and made of chrome. The rear of the GTI features the GTI badge on the driver's side, while the Rabbit 2.5 badge is on the passengers' side.

As a package option, a powered sunroof is available on the GTI, but is not available for the 2-door Rabbit. Another subtle difference between the GTI and the Rabbit is the color of the glass. The GTI's glass is tinted blue, while the Rabbit's has a slight green tint. The windshield of the GTI features heated windshield washer nozzles which are not available on the 2-door Rabbit.

When it comes to the tires, the GTI has 225/45 tires with 17" alloy wheels standard, with 18" wheels as an option. They come with anti-theft wheel locks as standard. The brake calipers on the GTI are red and are clearly visible through the spokes of the 18" rims. The Rabbit on the other hand has smaller 15" steel wheels with hub caps, with 16" alloy wheels as an option. Wheel locks are also available on the Rabbit as an option.

There are quite a few interior differences between the two models. Some may seem trivial but they may also be the decision breaker if you can't decide between the Rabbit and the GTI.

There are several features which come standard on the GTI which are unavailable on the 2-door Rabbit. These include:

Dual-zone Climatronic TM climate control
Front-center armrest with cooled storage compartment
Front and Rear floor mats
Multi-function trip computer
Leather Shift knob
Leather handbrake grip
Alloy pedals
Chrome interior door handles
Optional leather seating and trim

The Rabbit comes with Volkswagen's "Microtech" trim in place of the GTI's standard aluminum trim. The Rabbit's audio system comes with a 10 speaker MP3 CD AM/FM Radio. The GTI's audio system is improved with an in dash 6-CD changer, a theft-deterrent light and coding system as well as satellite radio compatibility. The system on a GTI can be upgraded to a Premium sound/navigation system with an optional 6-disc changer in the armrest and/or Satellite radio provided by either XM or Sirius.


The GTI's seating consists of 8-way adjustable sports seats with 2-way lumbar support. Top sport seats and heatable seats are available as options. The Rabbit comes with standard seats. 6-way adjustable for the driver, and 4-way adjustable for the passenger.

The multi-function 3-spoke steering wheel in the GTI is leather-wrapped with audio and telephone controls. The Tiptronic automatic transmission features paddle shifters on the wheel. The Rabbit has a standard 3-spoke steering wheel. If you're the type who constantly has passengers in the rear seat, the extra rear cup holder and storage compartments behind the front seat backs in the GTI may come in quite handy.

Just like all previous Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit and GTI models, where the GTI really outshines is in performance. It is equipped with a sport suspension and a 6-speed manual transmission, whereas the Rabbit has a stock 5-speed manual transmission. Both models are optionally available with a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.

WheelsShifting manually, the Rabbit can pull off 0-60 mph in 9 seconds while the GTI can do 0-60 in a significantly faster 6.8 seconds. This is due to the different power plants Volkswagen employs under the hood. The engine in the GTI is a 2.0L 4 cylinder in-line, direct injected with turbocharger and intercooler. It's capable of outputting 200hp @ 5,100-6,000rpm. The Rabbit's 2.5L 5 cylinder inline engine is capable of outputting a lower 150hp @ 5,000rpm.

With todays high gas prices you should also take note that Volkswagen recommends using the more expensive premium unleaded gasoline for maximum performance in the GTI. The Rabbit uses regular unleaded gasoline, but the cost savings might be offset by the GTI's better fuel efficiency with 23mpg city and 32mpg highway. The Rabbit comes in at a slightly worse 22mpg city 30mpg highway, although the difference is most likely negligible since these are only EPA estimates.

There are many subtle differences between Volkswagen's Rabbit and GTI, but what it really boils down to is whether you prefer a sporty looking, high performance pocket rocket, or whether you could settle with a toned down exterior with slightly lower performance for a lower price.

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