Whatever Volkswagen has done to get to the position of dominance in the European – and indeed the global auto industry, it's clearly been working. But some of its decisions still leave us scratching our heads. The Phaeton is one such four-wheeled decision.

A Volkswagen sedan that shares its platform with the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, the Phaeton offers the space, luxury and meticulous engineering standards you'd expect of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series, in a package decidedly bereft of the badge cachet that goes with it. VW clearly spent big dollars developing the vehicle, so when sales never really materialized, we were hardly surprised that plans were floated to phase it out in favor of something a little more cost-effective for both buyer and manufacturer, closing the enormous canyon between the current Phaeton and the Passat and CC ranges that sit below it.

In fact, we've read reports for years now stating that VW will/will won't follow up the Phaeton with a new model – it's one of the most cyclical future product stories in the entire auto industry. This latest report from Motor Trend suggests that Volkswagen is planning to replace the current Phaeton in 2015 or 2016 with another model in the same mold, downsizing in neither price point nor scale – and bringing the new model back to the North American market in the process. MT suggests the Phaeton will be an technological wonder, going with smaller engines (no W12), forced induction power and available hybrid and plug-in models. Us? we wouldn't be surprised to see the Phaeton adopt the new twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine found in the 2013 Bentley Continental V8.

Apparently VW is keen to retain the buyers who have enjoyed their Phaetons thus far, giving them the conservatively styled, anti-prestige alternative to the luxury sedans built by its sister company Audi and its own retiring executives – including Group CEO Martin Winterkorn and his product chief Ulrich Hackeberg – something of a parting gift.


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  • 38 Comments
      sjmoo
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Phaeton was an impressive car in terms of its feature content and build quality, but it never had the performance to justify its price. It's engines, although impressive on paper, could only put up middling numbers because the car was so heavy. That weight also hurt handling. To top it off, the Phaeton has the distinction of being one of the most unreliable cars of the last decade. It just wasn't worth the price of entry. If VW can remedy those issues and price it $15K-$20K lower it could legitimately be a success, though. There is a market for brand-averse luxury.
      dukeisduke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Gee, since it worked so well last time...
      hmmwv
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here goes the 2013 VW Passat LWB.
      waetherman
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think VW's biggest mistake with marketing the Phaeton in the US was putting a VW badge on it. They should have done what Hyundai did and minimize the badge, maximize the brand Phaeton as its own thing. The brand "Volks Wagen" (meaning the "people's car") has no business being on a limo like the Phaeton.
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        @waetherman
        for thode who know: they should have called it 'Horch'
        • 2 Years Ago
        @waetherman
        [blocked]
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      I absolutely love the Phaeton...it's understated and beautiful, and it's very unique among its Audi/Mercedes/BMW peers. The old W12 was such an incredible engine, apparently that Phaeton was able to reach 201mph...unheard of compared to the A8s, S-classes, or 7 Series of today. I have always kept my eye out for a nice 2006 example, the final year of production. My hope is that they bring it back here as soon as possible, in limited production with a TDI option from the Touareg.
        sjmoo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @CarCrazy24
        Actually the highest top speed ever clocked in a Phaeton was 186mph and both the current MB S-Class and BMW 7-Series can crest 190mph with the proper tires and their limiters removed.
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      Because the first formula worked so well.
        Krishan Mistry
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        It was a big flop in North America, but over in Europe, it's doing fine. Would you rather it drop a ton of cost and craftmanship and be built in Mexico or USA? Id rather it be as it is now, a compelling luxury vehicle that shares common ground with Continentals and A8s, but with none of the brand hype and flashiness.
          Lachmund
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Krishan Mistry
          dream on
          Andre Neves
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Krishan Mistry
          Wow, so much ignorance here lately. Thanks for the thumbs down everyone, like I care, but the facts are the facts. People in the U.S aren't willing to spend $70k + on a VW. Especially when you have so many competitive offerings coming from Audi, MB, & BMW. Americans tend to be materialistic when it comes to luxury cars. They think, "Sure, that's a nice car, but it's a VW and for that money...let me go take a look at what Audi/MB/BMW has". Not to mention, the customer experience you get when you walk in any of the others when you're shopping for a luxury car. VW has great customer service, but it's levels below what the big three germans have to offer. Seriously though, pretend you're looking to spend that kind of money on a luxury car...then go and visit all those dealerships starting with VW. There's no comparison. I'm calling it right now. If they bring the next Phaeton over, it will fail, just like the first. I don't really get why VW has to attempt to move the brand upscale when they have Audi. It just doesn't make sense. I mean, look at Toyota with their Land Cruiser for example. Offer anyone the choice of a free Land Cruiser or a free Range Rover and see what they pick. It might work over in Europe, but it just doesn't over here.
          4540flossy
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Krishan Mistry
          Sorry Krishan, in Europe it isn't doing fine and never did. To give you a country-specific example; in the UK, VW registered a total number of 1,789 Phaetons over it's entire lifetime. In the same period, Audi shifted 8,690 A8s. Even in it's highly patriotic home market, VW only managed to shift a paltry 19,314 over four years... Feel free to appreciate the lack of flashiness (in Germany, the front has been changed to look like the current Golf!) and hype, but like most VWs, it's expensive, dull and unreliable.
          Lachmund
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Krishan Mistry
          i meant flossy
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        as technology base for the bentley continental as well as partly even the veyron it always had it's qualities in it's own right imho
      KAG
      • 2 Years Ago
      You know, it is one of those cars you have to seat in then your mind totally changes. Probably has the best front seats in a car I have ever sat in.
      Jim
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not a fan of the current "face" of VWs, but this is the best IMO. If you look, the car really has awesome lines. There is a timeless look to it. If available and in the market, would definitely give it a good long look.
      Jason Allen
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is enough room in the market for a vehicle like this to sell well enough to justify the effort. I love that you could build it all yourself if you want to, something that can't be done anywhere else that I know of (not just engines, everything). Some people want to be understated in their daily life, to be conservative in fashion, and that extends to their vehicles. It's not meant to appeal to a majority of the buying public. I would consider buying it just to build it all in that super high-tech factory! :)
      SloopJohnB
      • 2 Years Ago
      Only people that enjoyed the P were those that got it at a substantial discount. Nice car, but no cachet for the VW brand. If you want an S6 or A8L, you buy an audi. No one cross shops the P.
      genelamont
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why? It makes as little sense now as it did then. Volkswagens are great, cheap cars... not luxury, expensive cars. You don't see Bentley coming out with a $25k sedan... because it doesn't make any sense! Why would you not just buy an Audi?
        Alex
        • 2 Years Ago
        @genelamont
        Cheap?? Volkswagens are cheap in every way but price.
          Lachmund
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Alex
          i wonder how long this fairytale is gonna hold up. yawn!
          genelamont
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Alex
          Yes, cheap. Not like Mitsubishi cheap, but cheap for a real car, hell yes. GTI for 25K, fully loaded Passat for 31K. No maintenance for 3 years.
          gtv4rudy
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Alex
          Oh, I forgot to mention that you can buy a 4-5 year old Phaeton between 14-17k. When new weren't they around 100k? Geez, I wonder why they depreciated so much?
      Kai F. Lahmann
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Piëch clan, owning a big part of Volkswagen wants the Phaeton – but nobody else does. Sales are ugly (only about 10k globally, with not far less for the way more expensive Bentley Continental!).
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