Last post on Oct 16, 2008 at 8:33 AM
You are in the Volkswagen Rabbit
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Volkswagen Rabbit, Fuel Efficiency (MPG), Hatchback
#74 of 103 Hard to drive a Rabbit for economy
Aug 14, 2007 (6:48 am)
I just got my new 3-door manual 2007 Rabbit.
So far, mpg isn't looking great. I think I am going to get 27 or 28 mpg with a mix of 70% suburban and 30% highway. By suburban I mean a 3 lane road with lights every mile or so, a 45mph limit ( so every does 50-60 ) and traffic levels such that you are never caught at the lights through 2 cycles.
I know that some people think that expectations are too high.
My feeling is that VW have much better engines than this 5-pot and I would have loved a choice in the matter. I went to the VW UK site which gives mpg and imperial power and torque figures ( note that the imperial gallon is larger and you will need to multiply by 0.83 to get US mpg equivalents ).
They have a 2 liter turbo diesel with 170 horses and 258 ft lbs of torque which will get you 40mpg - you can outrun just about anything and outsip a low end Corolla. They have a 1.4 liter turbo/supercharged with 162 ft lbs of torque which will get you 32mpg.
They also have a 1.6 liter which has the same performance as the old two liter and excellent fuel economy ( 35mpg ).
So I certainly feel a little frustrated that the better engines are not available here. All that said, the prices in the UK are stratospheric, starting at an equivalent of $25k for the base model - every foreign car company must be making a fortune with the strength of the pound and the British propensity to overpay for cars ( they can't buy in Europe because they are right hand drive ).
A couple of things about the Rabbit don't help with the fuel economy. The engine is quiet and smooth and allows you to forget to change up. It is quite peppy and does invite hard driving. The manual ratios are much shorter legged than they need to be, back in 1990 I had a 2 liter Vauxhall ( Chevy ) which probably had a little over 100 ft lbs of torque and would do 90mph at 3,000 rpm.
I am sure the Rabbit could take the higher gearing.
However, here is my take on why the gearing is the way it is. Americans are chronically obese as well as being the largest humans on the planet when in good physical shape. A car company has to design a vehicle to safely move four adults and luggage when the adults weights are in the upper 10th percentile. Fat guys have fat wives and fat friends ( I think I read something the other day about mutually reinforcing lifestyles being one of the issues of obesity - people literally egg each other on to overeat and not exercise ). So Gunther and Helmut are at the drawing board looking to design a car for the American market. We need to be able to cope with four 250lb adults and 150lbs of luggage - 1,150lbs . Well the 2-liter is out, it'll need to be the 2.5 five pot. Now what about the gearing ratios ? Well we can't make them too far apart, not with all that weight to accelerate and besides Americans are lazy and won't want to drop a gear to pass so we will have to keep the 5th gear low enough to allow passing at 70mph ( before you protest, who takes corners in 3rd and lets the engine struggle from under 1,000rpm ).
The other issue I see here is that Americans are obsessed with horse power and engine capacity. A 3-liter engine in Europe is considered a monster and we are happier to be in a hi-tech 2 liter than a guzzling 4 liter V8. I won't even look at high end cars here simply because they all have ridiculously over sized engines.
My stereotyping is not reflective of those reading this forum but then you drive European cars and care about mpg. You are not representative of the American market. If you were we would have the full choice of engines on offer.
My current strategy is to change up when the rev counter noses above 2000rpm and to pull steadily away from the lights. I never change down to pass and don't brake or accelerate hard to change lanes. I had a Volvo V70 wagon with a real time fuel consumption readout. I could see what happens when you hammer it from the lights and learned to take my time to hit cruising speed and to avoid lane changes and "overactive" driving. If this country had a progressive government it would mandate that all cars have a real time mpg readout as well as a speedo and rev counter. Believe me, it would change driving habits for the better.
Well, after all that ranting, I do agree that the Rabbit is pretty much a nice mid-range vehicle disguised as an econo-hatch. It compares quite nicely to my Volvo V50 which costs $10k more. The only complaints that I would echo regard the seat cloth quality, a slight problem with pulling off the line in 1st ( hard to get the accelerator input right ) and the fact that the black plastic on the body doesn't contrast very well with the silver color I chose. I think darker colors work better with the black exterior trim.
#75 of 103 Re: Hard to drive a Rabbit for economy [helmutvonkopf]
Aug 14, 2007 (9:38 am)
I just went on a trip with 3 friends and a fully loaded trunk to Big Bear. average weight of passenger was probabl 125 (the girl friend is not American and is much smaller, off setting the "average weight") and luggage was probably another 100-150. so that's a good 600lbs of cargo. Anyone who has been to Big Bear Mountain in Southern California knows how windy the roads are. The Rabbit can really haul ass up the hill with an amazingly smooth ride, and little strugle. I managed to get everyone in my vehicle car sick at one point from zipping up the mountain. Anyway, The 2.5 makes a lot of sense and is a helluva a lot of fun to drive. Your UK mpg at the beginninf of your Rant is also subject to that .83 right? So you're averaging the US equivalent of 22-23 MPG?
#76 of 103 Re: Hard to drive a Rabbit for economy [helmutvonkopf]
Aug 14, 2007 (9:56 am)
i was going to counteract some of what you said, but then, i read the rest of your post!
the naturally aspirated 1.6 wont move our bunny anywhere but the list of most anemic cars.
the 1.4 tsi is great, but its a relatively new engine and vw probably didn't want to suffer more reliability issues or expensive repairs; remember they are trying to win back their fans.
the diesel is a cool engine too, but much like hybrids, they are slightly more expensive and they wouldn't be carring a sub 15k pricetag. (I too think that the rabbit is a mid level car in econo hatch clothing.)
i don't mind the rabbits gearing....i like the fact that i can be doing 80 miles per hour and only have the tach just under 2300rpms. what it needs is top end power, and the 08's revies 5 banger remedies that to an extent.
and on a side note, while the black side strips may not be the most athsetically pleasing (i have the united grey, so its no biggie) but its very european looking, and only on the two doors. ( you can actually get the paintable versions, if you prefer it.)
as far as mileage goes, averaging 27-28 when your car is rated 19/28 is phenomenal; especially since you driving MOSTLY suburban roads and only 30%highway.
#77 of 103 Re: Hard to drive a Rabbit for economy [sharpedgeshurt]
Aug 14, 2007 (9:57 am)
i wish i could take my bunny to big bear! i used to go there all the time with my parents before i moved to nc. Wow, way to instill some nostalgia sharpedgeshurt!
#78 of 103 Re: Hard to drive a Rabbit for economy [eldaino]
Aug 14, 2007 (10:28 am)
"i like the fact that i can be doing 80 miles per hour and only have the tach just under 2300rpms." ...hmm, are you sure about that? I get those rpms at around 55mph...by the time I get to 70mph I'm pretty close to 3000rpms in 5th gear.
#79 of 103 Re: Hard to drive a Rabbit for economy [shirotori]
Aug 15, 2007 (6:08 am)
The lower rpms are probably for the 6 speed automatic.
VW's manual, like many other manual transmissions, has little practical advantage over the auto anymore...except the initial lower price. No longer do you get an extra gear or two, no longer do you get significantly better mpg, no longer does the engine run at lower rpms in top gear, and no longer is a 4 cyl underpowered with the automatic.
Most manuals now seem to be designed for racers...leading to close gear ratios and excessively high rpms in the top gear.
#80 of 103 Re: Hard to drive a Rabbit for economy [shirotori]
Aug 15, 2007 (6:29 am)
yes, as jeffy scott pointed out, i have the six speed auto hence the lower rpms.
I can be doing over 90 and be at or a little over 3k rpms.
#81 of 103 Guess I Should Have Got the Auto
Aug 15, 2007 (12:59 pm)
I am the guy who posted about the UK engine. I live in the US and I am quoting my US mileage but I think I might be deluding myself about 27/28 . Let's wait and see.
In truth, for the straight, flat roads I drive, the manual serves no practical purpose other than involving me a little more in the process. I think that people tend to be lead footed in automatics because they want some "feedback" from the car and hard braking and acceleration give them that ( my weird theory based on middle aged people racing from light to light - what's the rush? ).
The comments about the low gearing for racers makes sense.
The possible plus point is that I can get the car into 5th at 40mph so that it is possible to cruise to work on a non-highway road at 2,000rpm .
I am going to check on the price premium for the diesel versus gasoline in Europe - UK doesn't count because we are the world's biggest suckers when it comes to cars. $24k for the entry level Golf!
In Spain they are charging about 2k Euros extra for an equivalent diesel. That is $2.7k approximately. Glancing at Honda and Toyota I am guessing that they want about $3k for the hybrid over the normal gasoline equivalent so there is not much difference there.
One important difference is the longevity and simplicity of the diesel. My Dad has a little Skoda with a 1.9 turbodiesel. His service intervals are 20k miles. Unlike a hybrid, a diesel is actually a simpler arrangement than a gasoline engine. I talked to lots of UK taxi drivers who do airport runs in turbodiesel Skoda Octavia sedans and wagons with 300k miles on the odometer ( Skoda is part of VW ). I am really keen to own one and would happily downgrade the vehicle ( from a Jetta to a Rabbit say ) in order to drive a diesel. I rented a Citroen back in 2002 and the fact that I drove all around Spain for 5 days without stopping at a gas station really impressed me. Apart from that, a diesel has great hill climbing and passing ability.
#82 of 103 Re: Guess I Should Have Got the Auto [helmutvonkopf]
Aug 16, 2007 (4:23 am)
I think that people tend to be lead footed in automatics... middle aged people racing from light to light...
Funny, I think it is just the opposite. I think most people are feather footed in automatics. I know that I tend to drive more aggressively in a manual.
Most drivers around here seem to be afraid that their car will break if they exceed 2500 rpm...and of course 90%+ of those cars are automatics....Get moving, already !
#83 of 103 Leadfoot Auto Drivers
Aug 16, 2007 (9:26 am)
Well I guess it might depend on where you live. I am down in South Florida, commuting South into Boca Raton. There is not a lot of crazy aggressive driving, but the average speed on 45mph limit roads is probably 55mph, and most people like to rush away from the lights, although I suppose you never notice the slow coaches unless they are holding you up.
One thing had occurred to me - whether I could increase the gearing on my Rabbit by upping the tire diameter. I have no idea about custom wheels and fancy tires but if I could go from a 25" to a 26" tire it would increase my gearing 4% and might yield some benefit in economy. Of course it might cost me a fortune and ruin my ride and handling....