2011 Volkswagen Phaeton Preview

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Volkswagen has updated its Phaeton flagship for the second time in its short life, reaffirming the lackluster opinion of the car in the full-size luxury sedan market. With a brand new BMW 7-series and facelifted Mercedes-Benz S-Class already on sale, plus the completely redesigned Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ just around the corner, Volkswagen’s entrant in this segment is facing a serious uphill battle.

The new 2011 Volkswagen Phaeton comes onto the market with a fundamentally new front design and is making its world debut in what will arguably be its biggest market, China. It will be on display for the first time at next week’s 2010 Beijing Auto Show.

The complete powertrain lineup includes six-, eight- and twelve-cylinder engines ranging in capacity from 240 horsepower to 450 horsepower. The most fuel efficient model packs a 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel and returns a fuel economy (European combined cycle) of 27.7 mpg yet can accelerate the car from 0-62 mph in 8.2 seconds and see it reach a top speed of 147 mph.

Coming as standard across the range is a 4Motion all-wheel drive system, air suspension, bi-xenon headlights, 18 inch alloy wheels, 4-zone air-conditioning, 18-way adjustable seats and leather and Alcantara trim.

Volkswagen is yet to confirm if the updated car will be sold in the U.S. but rumors of such have been brewing, off and on, for almost two years. The return now looks more likely than ever, with the brand’s American CEO Stefan Jacoby previously stating it's time for a comeback for the big sedan, and this update could be just what they needs to get the ball rolling.

Now, if only Volkswagen can get the pricing right. With the 2011 Hyundai Equus coming onto the market this summer with a mid-$50,000 sticker, Volkswagen can’t be aiming too high with its latest Phaeton unless the company is looking for another sales flop. When Volkswagen's flagship Phaeton was last sold in the U.S., it was almost universally overlooked, selling just 3,354 total cars in its brief 2003-2006 stint in the American market.


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Comments (11)
  1. What is the purpose of this? If it competes with the Audi A8 seems like cannibilization of sorts, well more the sorts, since Audi is part of the VW empire.

  2. Too vanilla and I'm sad they kept that unsightly C-pillar.

  3. What does the author mean about the pricing? Is he saying the price should not be based on the car's content, and performance, but on the logo on the front and rear? That makes no sense. Why would the car not be priced the same as the equivalent BMW, MB and Audi models? It's already one of the most attractive appearance design in the segment, without the weirdness that wears thin all too soon on it's competition.

  4. Waaay too similar to the A8, which already has conservative design all wrapped up. Delivering a car to the US market just to keep your dealers happy is the road to financial waste and ruin. Now, you do something about that crappy C pillar, try to make the design a little different and interesting, you might generate a little more interest. For example, while I think the entire category of crossover sedany thingies is an exercise in futility (5er GT, Crosstour,et al ) and the punchline to a bad joke about automotive colonic irrigation, VW could have used this platform to enter that market.

  5. This car's pointless. Audi is supposed to be the luxury version of VW, and they have the A8. The only way this makes any sense is if it undercuts the A8 in price by a significant amount, otherwise just stupid.

  6. VW fanboy says FAIL.

  7. Wake me up when it retreats from the U.S. market again. On second thought, don't bother, I could use the extra sleep.

  8. Looks very comfortable,neat and simple.But don't you think it’s engine weights to much as it looks like....

  9. I actually always thought the Phaeton got a bad rap. The 2003 version was much more attractive than this, however. A step in the wrong direction.
    Unfortunately, the same badge snobbery that led to the first one's demise (in the US, at least), will probably lead to the same consequence this time around. No one wants a $100,000 Volkswagen.

  10. I guess I'm alone on this one, but I liked the original, and I like this one. Bring it to America with the diesel, and we have ourselves an awesome luxury cruiser. I am a huge fan of the previous gen A8, but I don't really care for the new one (I'd rather have the new XJ, personally). In that case, if I were in the market for something like this, in the Vee Dub family of brands, I would absolutely look at the new Phaeton. Perhaps even over the 7 and S.. But that's just me.

  11. 450 horse power? That is something but with a price tag of around $100k is too much I guess. Add another 60k and it can fetch you something very very nice!

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