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Video of the Phaeton.
Video of Phaeton factory and Quick tour of inside.
Video of Phaeton Glass Factory Being Built. 7MB
Video of Phaeton factory and building process. 4MB
Volkswagen Phaeton V8
presence. Solid build quality. Luxurious quiet Rolls-Royce style ride. Four
wheel drive. Superb wood grain inside. Leather quality is very high. Every
part feels and looks like top quality coachwork. Great price if you buy at
Bad: No a luxury
car brand name or image. Needs more road feel to be a bit more exciting to
drive. Needs a DVD based navigation system, Bi-Xenon adaptive lights,
electroluminescent gauges, backup camera, and the entire Audi A8 MMI
system. Rear seats have short lower cushion.
The Phaeton is Volkswagen's
largest sedan, built to compete with the finest in the automotive industry.
Watch Volkswagen videos and you will learn that VW did not aim at Mercedes
or BMW but at the best in the world, Rolls Royce. For the past year, sales
of the Phaeton have been slow, but nothing out of the ordinary when compared
to a Audi A8. The Phaeton is not selling as fast as a Lexus LS or a BMW 7
or Mercedes S Class, mainly due to the fact that a super large VW symbol is
placed on a car that costs more than $51,000. Yes we said $51,000, due to
the fact that year-end incentives were $15,000 on the Phaeton last fall.
Imagine the look on your face if you paid close to sticker price in the
first few months the car was sold, only to find your neighbor buying the
same car for a staggering $15,000 less. We think this was a real mistake,
which will have ripple effects on the resale value of the car in years to
come. In the meantime, if you want a Phaeton with a Bently logo, you can
have one for about $160,000.
The Phaeton's presence is
unmistakable; it is tall, wide, and very long. Compared to the competition,
the Lexus LS is lower to the ground and smaller in length. The Mercedes
S-Class looks just as long but does not seem as wide or tall. The BMW 7
series probably feels just as big as the Phaeton in length and cabin height,
but still sits lower to the ground. The Audi A8 is much more of a sleek
sports car, as it sits very low, has a thin cabin, but is just as long in
it's L version. Sure this car is not as noticeable on the road as a S class
or BMW 7, but in the right color it can be just as striking.
The driving characteristics
of the Phaeton are world class. The vehicle feels wide and long but also is
quite solid and nimble. An adjustable air suspension allows you to change
from an ultra plush yet stable ride to a very firm sports car ride. In the
firm setting, the Phaeton feels very stiff and is easy to move around.
Steering response is very accurate but road feel is lacking, we would like
to see more feedback. It is also extremely quiet inside with very low noise
levels. The largest amount of noise comes from the tires and road, which
you can only notice when the 270-watt stereo system is turned off. The
Phaeton feels smooth and solid, with no noises or looseness found anywhere.
Overall the feeling is most comparable to a Rolls Royce Phantom.
Generating 335 horsepower and
317 lbs-ft of torque and matched to a six-speed transmission with the VW
4Motion all-wheel-drive system, the large V8 engine feels just phenomenal.
The Phaeton feels like it can keep pushing forward at any speed continuously
with amazing smoothness. The V8 engine also features a muscular exhaust
growl at startup. Cruising at any speed, the Phaeton hides the feeling of
movement amazingly well; going triple digits on the highway is much like
going 55 mph in other cars. The engine gives this car a very light feeling,
much lighter than you would expect. Zero to sixty times are about 7.2
seconds. Our mixed driving gave us an average 17 miles per gallon of fuel
economy. Top speed is limited to 130mph, which is a flaw where other German
counterparts are limited to 155mph and top speed is 186mph. Take the new
Maserati Quattroporte which is not limited at all. No one wants to be in a
car on the highway being passed by another large luxo-cruiser when you have
spent big bucks yourself.
The interior is super
luxurious, featuring large bolstered seats and gleaming wood all around.
All seats are a bit firm for our backs, but VW says that doctors have raved
about the seats on the Phaeton. On long trips they can get tiring,
something we cannot say in a Mercedes S430. The driver's seat is the most
adjustable with a power thigh support. Both front seats are very large with
deep padding, much like in a Rolls Royce. All four seats feature a power
massage function that extends a bump in the seat back and moves it up and
down for a few minutes. Rear seats do require longer lower cushions, as
they leave much to be desired for a relaxing ride, we were sitting much to
straight for long trips. Better seats can be had with a four-seater package
which sends fully adjustable seats to the rear with a large center console.
Leather on the door panels and on the seats is of high quality and is very
Most cars we have tested
usually have many faults, with low quality parts and a lightweight feeling
to everything. With the Phaeton, we cannot complain about much. The car
feels superbly built, right down to the smallest parts. Every switch feels
great. The wood is surprisingly beautiful in a matching grain that is
highly detailed. The front air vents are covered by automatically moving
wood covers so most of the time air is indirectly fed into the cabin. The
small slit of wood near the front windshield reminded us of the attention to
detail Volkswagen has placed in this car. Even the sunshade for the sunroof
is electronic and moves in a solid fashion.
Dual ashtrays up front
feature a aluminum flap that opens up so you do not accidentally burn the
expensive wood with your cigar. It would be good if these trays were
felt-lined for holding change as well in our non-smoking age. Cup holders
in our V8 model are now wood trimmed instead of last year's plastic models.
We liked the electronic headrests on all four seats, which did a nice job of
taking away from a part that can feel cheap on many cars. Chrome is used
extensively throughout the cabin as well with all parts feeling very solid
and heavy. The doors close with a heavy thunk, making this car feel tank
like each time you enter and exit. We got raving comments about the trunk's
aluminum hinges as well as its 17 cubic feet of protrusion free space.
There is nothing to disappoint us at all on the Phaeton.
Most controls are laid out
all within easy reach of the driver. Climate controls are up high above the
information display. The Phaeton features four zone climate controls for
each passenger seat. The system worked flawlessly and kept us very
comfortable in the auto setting. Only once were we driving behind a fuming
car and here we noticed that the system did not automatically switch to air-recirculate
mode. The intelligent climate control system opens up front facing air
vents when driving into the sun. All four seats feature heaters and fans
for cooling. While most adjustments are made easily, making specific
adjustments like fan speed and direction of air does take time through the
The information screen is
mainly used for navigation and stereo functions, with less used features
being the trim computer displays and vehicle settings menus. The electronic
central control dial is a bit stiff and hard to grasp and turn easily, but
it is a smart button not allowing any further movement if the menu system
does not advance forward. The navigation system is of a older CD based
variety, which does not show street names on the map itself. Guidance is
also done by a voice that we found irritating at times. We think VW has to
update the navigation system in order to be on the level of its
Below this section are
settings for the stereo system and CD changer. They are placed very low and
though easy to use while driving, they are hard to see if you are in park
gear. Our tester featured bumper sensors to aid in parking this behemoth,
however the front right display bar is placed close to the A-pillar far away
from driver view.
All windows are double paned
glass for keeping noise levels low. All windows are also single touch up
and down. The electronic trunk opener button and the gas tank flap button
were located very far from reach of the driver to the left of the driver.
We also would rather have the seat controls in a position where they are
easily visible rather than on the bottoms of the seats.
In the rear compartment
legroom is super spacious. Footrests are included for a more comfortable
ride. We did not find any mirrors for the required cleaning up before
getting out of the vehicle when attending parties. Interior lighting is
also low compared to the Audi A8 which had a beautiful interior lighting
scheme. We also wished for an electroluminescent instrument cluster in a
car of this price range. The cluster looked dull during the day, something
unexpected. High beams are also not xenon beams, another feature that
should be updated with dynamic bi-xenon lights.
Most options in the phaeton are limited to a few packages.
There is not much to add to the base car in V8 form. VW's website, vw.com,
is also quite good at showing you all the options on this vehicle, even if
it is done with a quirky music scheme. We think that advertising showing
the stability, technology, and luxury of this car will do wonders for its
selling ability. VW ads currently don't show this car in a luxurious
manner; their only add being quite strange, more of a kid playing with a toy
rather than a adult enjoying a luxury car. If VW is to lure the higher
class luxury buyer, they should make sure they don't feel weird or strange
when picking the Phaeton. Going out of your way to be different is one
thing but when your car is not selling, you need to at least speak to the
traditional Luxury car buyer in words he understands.
Getting to the final price,
last year we went hunting for a Phaeton at year-end and found some amazing
deals from August all the way to December. Many dealers had vehicles
offering Invoice price and then $15,000 off! This makes the Phaeton one of
the best buys in the car market. You cannot find such a beautifully made
car, one that is so capable, and feels so good at a price of around $50,000,
and that for a brand new car! It was a real bargain and one that I am sure
many customers were happy about finding. This super deal made us and many
people wonder was the Phaeton worth the $70,000 asking price? Well that is
only in the eye of the beholder, you can find some S500 models selling for
$12,000 off sticker price as well. Making all these high-end luxury cars a
whole lot cheaper just by finding and looking for a great deal.
To download a pdf file of specifications