Realizing how wildly unpopular the Volkswagen Rabbit moniker is in North America, VW has decided to release the Mk6 as a Golf in both the U.S. and Canada.

Volkswagen of America has decided to ditch the "Rabbit" name for models sold in the U.S. and Canada. Beginning in 2006, the company sold the VW Golf MkV as a VW Rabbit in that market.

The name was meant to be a throwback to the 1970s, when the first-gen Golf was sold as a Rabbit north of the Mexican border. When the Mk2 was shipped across the pond, then-VW President Carl Hahn decided to make vehicle model names more standard worldwide.

Many car fans hated the U.S.-spec version of the vehicle, which was built in Pennsylvania. The Rabbit had a poor quality interior, diminished responsiveness, and softer shocks and suspension.

The idea to rebrand the Golf as a Rabbit for the 2006 model year came from Kerri Martin. Martin is widely credited with BMW's MINI brand creation, which led to a successful launch, and a higher-than-anticipated level of popularity for the Cooper in the U.S. Martin jumped the MINI ship in early 2004 and headed to VW, taking MINI's advertising firm, Crispin Porter and Bogusky, with her.

It was Martin's belief that consumers wanted to build personal relationships with their cars, and calling model units by names (i.e. Cooper, and Rabbit) would reinforce this idea. She was apparently undeterred by the previous Rabbit's dismal history.

Unfortunately for Martin and VW, her plan did not work. Amidst declining sales, the company dropped her in 2007. The VW Rabbit will likely be the shortest lived Golf model for the company, having only existed for half of the Mk5 life cycle.

The Volkswagen Golf goes back on sale in the U.S. beginning in September 2009.


Volkswagen to Retire Rabbit NamePlate in U.S.