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My 85' BMW 325e was nearing 200k and left my kid and I stranded a couple times with petty little problems, so we decided to find a new car for my wife and I would take her Jeep. I really wanted something like the BMW in the household, as over the years I found that this really was the ultimate driving machine. It handled well, had tons of torque, EXCELENT gas mileage, absolutely bulletproof, small, but roomy and european.

After shopping around, I found the Rabbit to be the closest out there to my Beemer. It has almost identical wheelbase and height, is a 4 door and almost has the same displacement engine. My wife liked it and the price was right, so we went ahead with the purchase.

Getting back to comparison, the BMW was 20+ years old, but feels like a very raw version of the rabbit. At higher revs, the chipped ETA sounded very raw, like a turbine. There was little sound insulation in the BMW and they shoehorned a frickin straight 6 into a tiny car, so you felt very in touch with the engine. You can even smell and feel the heat of it.

The Rabbit is kind of disconnected from the engine by sound deadining and it being kind of a normal engine. You don't really hear anything at all, except a kind of whirring sound. I did however pass a slow truck on a mountain road a while back and heard the thing under a higher load and can hear some of the
Lambo within it. It was really raspy and pretty cool, but you wouldn't normally drive like that. The BMW was always kind of like a sexy voice, where the Rabbit is kind of geared toward letting you hear the stereo well.

Brakes. The BMW had some nice upgrated rotors and always had fresh fluid and pads. These brakes were excellent. You really had to watch your rear view if you stopped suddenly, as most other cars could not stop like you. The Rabbit has some good brakes, but I think the 20 year old beemer beats 'em slightly.

Suspension. The BMW had stock springs and some new Koni shocks. It was extremely fun to drive on mountain roads, but didn't have any idiot proof features. Again, it was raw. The rear wheel drive was fun and added to the whole raw aspect again. The Beemer felt pretty sketchy in the rain, I'd always slow way down as it felt like it could slip anytime. It could have been the tires though, or maybe a combination of torque and RWD. The Rabbit is pretty sweet on mountain roads, it would be really nice with some stiffer springs and some bilsteins, as there is a bit of body roll. The Rabbit feels as good as if not better than prior versions of the GTI though.

Torque. Both cars have about the same amount of torque. This is sweet for mountain driving. Both cars have had no problems going 90 mph over Siskiyou summit in 5th gear. No problems at all. The VW has way more HP, which makes things easier at freeway onramps, but that's about all I've really been satisfied about HP. The BMW had so much torque and was so light that you could do crazy burnout tricks no problem. Just google "e30 burnout" if you think a 120 hp car has no power. HP is kind of overated and for kids. Although I'd take a 400hp 911 turbo anyday.

Build. The E30 is freaking bulletproof. No questions about it. Of course all the rubber is going to die in 15 years and all the other little wear out parts will die, if you are mechanicaly inclined they are pretty easy to work on. Parts for a BMW are expensive, but built better than most anything else. Expect to pay $100 for simple spark plug wires or $150 for a cap and rotor. Insane, but worth it. Ebay is full of E30 stuff though and these cars are still running strong, so they are supported parts wise. I'm not sure about the Rabbit and it's build quality. It seems tough, but we'll have to see. Likely we will sell it at 100k though, as my wife has a long commute and she doesn't quite baby her cars.

Gas milage. The ETA BMW really is a car for now. It gets well over 30mpg on the freeway and it's reliable, safe, fast, fun and stylish. A prius only gets good milage, the rest of the car sucks. Why they don't have a modern e30 eta boggles my mind. The 1 series is close, but it's still bloated. The Rabbit actually has pretty good milage for what it is, a performance commuter machine, but could be better. The TDI solves this, and good job to VW for bringing it about.

Overall I'm pleased with the Rabbit and found it to be the best replacement for an e30. They are very similar performance, fit and finish wise and the Rabbit comes at a great price. The Rabbit may not be a Porsche, but it's fun to drive and has an old school GTI/BMW feel to it, without the hassles of owning an aging car. The only other car I'd consider is a GTI, but being 5-6000 more expense and having a ricey front end, plus needing premium kinda turned me off. Also my wife is driving mostly and she doesn't even know the difference between a GTI and Rabbit. So that was easy.

Anyway thanks for reading!
 

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I'm sure VW would be flattered for you to be comparing the Rabbit to the Bimmer so closely. Makes me feel good because I have immense admiration for that generation. Enjoy your car! :)
 

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Im exilarated, i sold my BM................to costly to keep running, got myself a little Polo, what a fantastic car, no where near the power and space i had but a lot more affordable and to much fun......love it.
 
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