Volkswagen of America Inc. is killing the Rabbit once again.

When the importer brings the new Golf small car to the New York auto show next month for its U.S. debut, it will not be labeled as the Rabbit, The New York Times reports on its website.

VWA switched to Rabbit badging from Golf for its entry hatchback in the U.S. three years ago, as it sought to boost sales for the car by harkening back to its roots with the name used on the vehicle for its late-1970s debut. VWA announced the return of the Rabbit at the 2006 New York show.

But sales last year were down 21.1% in a car market off just 10.6% overall. Rabbit fared even worse against the rest of its Upper Small Car segment, which was down only 2.1% in 2008. So far this year, Rabbit sales have plunged 55.0%, while the U.S. car market is down 38.0%.

VWA used the Rabbit name from 1974 to 1984, before switching to Golf. Moving back to the Golf name in the U.S. brings the car in line with the rest of the world.

Volkswagen AG launched the new Golf in Europe last year, where it retained its position as the No.1 seller on a volume of 560,230 units, including the older-generation Golf Plus model.

Although the new model carries over the architecture of its predecessor, its new more-chiseled design and front fascia mark the beginning of a new design theme for the brand that will carry over into other future models.

Ward’s reported earlier that the hatchback will be offered in the U.S. with a 140-hp 2.0L I-4 turbodiesel in fourth-quarter 2009. me Once Again