The Phaeton

 07-12-2016    Phaeton

First Generation (2002–2006)

Volkswagen Phaeton


The Phaeton was conceived by Ferdinand Piëch, then chairman of Volkswagen Group.[citation needed] Piëch wanted Volkswagen engineers to create a car that would surpass the German prestige market leaders, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The decision to release the Phaeton was, in part, a response to Mercedes' decision to compete directly with Volkswagen in the European marketplace with the low-cost A-Class. It was also intended to support the Volkswagen brand image. Although the Volkswagen group already has a direct competitor in the full-sized luxury segment, the Audi A8, the Phaeton was intended to be more of a comfort-oriented limousine like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS, while the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series are more sport-oriented. [6][7]

Initial development of the Phaeton, given the internal project code VW611, began with Piëch giving his engineers a list of ten parameters the car needed to fulfill. Most of these specifications were not made known to the public, but a number of them were told to automotive reporters. One of them was that the Phaeton should be capable of being driven all day at 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph) with an exterior temperature of 50 °C (122 °F) whilst maintaining the interior temperature at 22 °C (72 °F).[8] Piëch requested this even though the Phaeton's top speed was electronically limited to 250 kilometres per hour (155.3 mph).[9] Another requirement was that the car should possess torsional rigidity of 37,000 N·m/degree.

At the 1999 International Motor Show Germany, Volkswagen presented the Concept D, which was essentially a hatchback prototype of the Phaeton, with very similar design, V10 TDI engine, air suspension and all-wheel-drive.


The Phaeton's platform, the Volkswagen Group D1 platform, is shared with the Bentley Continental GT and Bentley Continental Flying Spur. Certain systems, such as the automatic transmission and some engines, are also shared with the Audi A8. Compared to the Audi A8L 4.2 litre FSI quattro, the Phaeton is 545 pounds heavier but is still competitive with the lighter A8 in most driving tests, due to the Phaeton's increased engine power (335 hp versus 330) and a shorter axle ratio (3.65:1 versus 3.32).[10] However, the weight gives the Phaeton considerably worse acceleration and poorer fuel economy compared to the A8.[11]

As of 2011, the Phaeton has the longest wheelbase in the Volkswagen passenger car line.


Development of the vehicle led to over 100 individual patents specific to the Phaeton.[citation needed] Distinctive features include a draftless four-zone climate system, and standard Torsen-based 4motion four-wheel drive.

For high ride comfort, it introduced Adaptive Air Suspension with Continuous Damping Control (CDC)-(Skyhook suspension). The same suspension system, with firmer settings, was introduced in the technically similar Audi A8 in late 2002.

First Volkswagen with radar adaptive cruise control: automatic distance regulator (ADR).

Phaeton Lounge (2005)

The Phaeton Lounge was a concept car based on a lengthened version of the Phaeton with seating for four (two pairs of seats facing each other) in the rear compartment. It features a W12 engine, a reinforced chassis, 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, individual climate control for each passenger, front and rear wine coolers, a minibar, multi-color mood lighting, a cigar humidor, two 17-inch monitors, DVD changer in the trunk, 2nd DVD player in the rear cabin, and a Bluetooth-enabled computer with a broadband connection.[12]

The vehicle was unveiled in 2005 Middle East International Motor Show.[13]


The Phaeton was hand-assembled in an eco-friendly factory with a glass exterior, the Transparent Factory (German: Gläserne Manufaktur) in Dresden, Germany. This factory had a capacity of producing 20,000 vehicles a year, and was planned to expand to 35,000 vehicles a year.[14] It also assembled Bentley Continental Flying Spur vehicles destined for the European market until October 2006, when all assembly of the Bentley products was transferred to Crewe, England.[citation needed]

The Phaeton body was fabricated and painted at the Volkswagen works at Zwickau, Germany, and the completed bodies were transported approximately 100 km by special road transport vehicles to the main factory. Most Phaeton engines, the W12 being the notable exception, were built at the VW/Porsche/Audi engine plant in Győr, Hungary.[citation needed]

Reception and sales

Interior of a 2012 Phaeton featuring piano lacquer trim on tan leather seats with contrast piping

Sales of the Phaeton fell far short of expectations. Its biggest market was China, followed by South Korea.[15] In 2002, the manufacturer stated the annual capacity of the new Phaeton plant at Dresden was 20,000; by September 2006 a four-year total of 25,000 had been built,[16] with production running at approximately 6,000 cars annually. The domestic market was the Phaeton's strongest, with 19,314 Phaetons delivered in Germany alone by January 2009. Production decreased to 10,190 cars in 2012 and 5,812 in 2013.[17] In Phaeton's production run that lasted 15 years, 84,253 units were built.[14]

In the United States market, 1,433 Phaetons were sold in 2004, and 820 were sold in 2005, leading to where the company announced that sales in the American market would end after the 2006 model year. The W12-engined models have depreciated significantly, and sell for a small fraction of their original cost.[18] The Phaeton debuted at prices comparable to similar offerings from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and the Volkswagen Group's own Audi A8 (which shared its powertrain with the Phaeton). Motor Trend suggested that the "VW badge on the hood may not say 'premium' to many auto shoppers" but they were impressed at how the Phaeton drove.[19] As of January 2011, Volkswagen reported the possibility of bringing the Phaeton back to the U.S. in the car's next product cycle.[20]

In Autumn 2013, The Economist placed Phaeton into the report on Europe's biggest loss making cars.[21] In October 2014, Top Gear magazine placed the Phaeton on its list of "The worst cars you can buy right now."[22]

2007 facelift

The vehicle was unveiled in 2007 Geneva Motor Show.[23]

Update included new LED daytime running lights, as well as a freshened centre console with revamped controls and materials. New Fuel Stratified Injection (FSI) V6 petrol engine with greater power and fuel efficiency (206 kW / 280 PS) which satisfy Euro-5 emissions standards is also available.

Other changes to the 2009 model year car now being launched include: three new types of alloy wheels (17, 18 and 19 inch), a slightly modified radiator grille, three new exterior colours, the new leather colour, the new wood trims, white switch illumination instead of red, accent and switch trim in the new "Warm gray" colour, an upgraded car key, makeup mirror in the rear on the LWB version, dampers optimised for low-friction, Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brakes (front) on the Phaeton W12, as well as a rearview camera (Rear Assist) and blind spot warning system Side Assist.

2010 facelift

The vehicle was unveiled in 2010 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.[24][25]

The 2011 model year car got a new front fascia to more closely resemble the Volkswagen styling direction first seen on the Golf Mk VI. This included new LED running lights, bi-xenon headlights and a new bumper with LED fog lights. The rear LED clusters were altered to mimic those found on facelifted Touran, Sharan, and new Touareg. The interior benefited from some new technologies, but retained the 2009 MY layout. The Phaeton was offered as a normal wheelbase and long wheelbase models, with five-seat layout or an optional four-seat interior. In the five-seat version, the front seats can be adjusted 12 ways. Standard features include all-wheel drive, air suspension, and four-zone automatic climate control. A multifunction steering wheel can be ordered in leather or wood-leather.

New technologies


Petrol engines
[hide]Model Years Types
3.6 V6 FSI 2010-2015 6-speed automatic
4.2 V8 2010-2016 6-speed automatic
6.0 W12 2010-2011 5-speed automatic
Diesel engines
[hide]Model Years Types
3.0 V6 TDI 2010- 6-speed automatic


As of 2007, powertrain options for the Phaeton include the following engines.[27] 4motion permanent four-wheel drive is the only driveline system available. A front wheel drive only configuration was available with the 3.2 litre engine during the 2003 and 2004 model years.

Petrol engines
[hide]Model Years Engine codes Engine type Power, torque@rpm 0–100 km/h (62 mph) (s) Top speed
3.2 VR6 2002-2008 AYT / BKL / BRK 3,189 cc (194.6 cu in) VR6 241 PS (177 kW; 238 bhp)@6200, 315 N·m (232 lbf·ft)@2400 9.4 239 km/h (148.5 mph)
3.6 VR6 2008- ? 3,597 cc (219.5 cu in) VR6 280 PS (206 kW; 276 bhp)@6250, 370 N·m (273 lbf·ft)@3500 8.6 250 km/h (155.3 mph) (limited)
4.2 V8 2002- BGH / BGJ / ? 4,172 cc (254.6 cu in) V8 335 PS (246 kW; 330 bhp)@6500, 430 N·m (317 lbf·ft)@3500 6.9 250 km/h (155.3 mph) (limited)
6.0 W12 LWB (420PS) 2002-2004 BAN 5,998 cc (366.0 cu in) W12 420 PS (309 kW; 414 bhp)@6000, 550 N·m (406 lbf·ft)@3000 6.1 250 km/h (155.3 mph) (limited)
6.0 W12 LWB (450PS) 2004-2011 BRN / BTT 5,998 cc (366.0 cu in) W12 450 PS (331 kW; 444 bhp)@6050, 560 N·m (413 lbf·ft)@2750-5200 5.9 250 km/h (155.3 mph) (limited)
Diesel engines
[hide]Model Years Engine codes Engine type Power, torque@rpm 0–100 km/h (62 mph) (s) Top speed
3.0 V6 TDI (225PS) 2004-2006 BMK / CARA / CEXA 2,967 cc (181.1 cu in) V6 turbo 225 PS (165 kW; 222 bhp)@4000, 450 N·m (332 lbf·ft)@1400 8.8 234 km/h (145.4 mph)
3.0 V6 TDI (233PS) 2007-2008 BMK / CARA / CEXA 2,967 cc (181.1 cu in) V6 turbo 233 PS (171 kW; 230 bhp)@4000, 450 N·m (332 lbf·ft)@1400 8.4 234 km/h (145.4 mph)
3.0 V6 TDI (240PS) 2008- BMK / CARA / CEXA 2,967 cc (181.1 cu in) V6 turbo 240 PS (177 kW; 237 bhp)@4000, 500 N·m (369 lbf·ft)@1500-3500 8.3 237 km/h (147.3 mph)
5.0 V10 TDI 2003-2007 AJS 4,921 cc (300.3 cu in) V10 turbo 313 PS (230 kW; 309 bhp)@3750, 750 N·m (553 lbf·ft)@2000 6.9 250 km/h (155.3 mph) (limited)

Vehicles manufactured for sale in the North American market were only available with the 4.2 litre V8 and 6.0 litre W12 engine, both of which were electronically limited to 210 km/h (130.5 mph).

The Phaeton features a Bosch ESP 5.7 Electronic Stability Programme, with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) traction control system, Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Engine Braking Control (EBC), with emergency Brake Assist (BA).

The electronic differential lock (EDL) employed by Volkswagen is not, as the name suggests, a differential lock at all. Sensors monitor roadwheel speeds across an individual driven axle, and if one wheel is rotating substantially faster than the other (i.e. slipping) the EDL system momentarily brakes it. This effectively transfers power to the other wheel.

Source: Wikipedia