2009 Volkswagen Phaeton | new car review

Posted on Feb 4, 2010 by


The Phaeton is a limousine from VW that sets very high standards in comfort and luxury, aimed directly to take on the big, long and luxurious cars from the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

Unfortunately for VW it kind of missed the mark and as a result, hasn’t really sold too well. The car has absolutely everything that’s you’d want from your limo, the luxury, smooth ride and unbeatable peace and quiet, but it just doesn’t have that X-factor that the best limos from the top brands have: A whiff of excellence and exclusivity that shouts ‘look at me’ without really shouting. It’s as tough to describe as it is to reproduce, especially for a manufacturer with no experience in the field – a case of nice try, but no cigar.

Aimed directly at wealthy customers that don’t want to shout about the money they spend has meant that VW designed the car with an almost invisible personality. OK, it’s big, very big, but unless you know what you are looking for you would never spot one. There are dashes of chrome on all over the super-clean bodywork and looking closely at the lights will reveal expensive-looking LED strips, but again, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, the Phaeton will simply pass you by, albeit very quietly and very smoothly.

2009 Volkswagen PhaetonThat is the idea, but on the flipside, even when you don’t feel the need to shout about your wealth, you still like people to notice it. And that is what the big BMWs and Mercedes etc do so well, and what the Phaeton fails at.

The big daddy of the VW range is available in three models, namely a 3.2-litre V6, a 4.2-litre V8 and a 6.-litre W12; all petrol engines and all partnered with an automatic ‘Tiptronic’ transmission that lets you flip through the gears, or you can let the gearbox do the shift work for you.

The V6 is possibly a little underpowered for what is a behemoth of a car, the V8 is certainly getting there in terms of acceleration and cruise-ability, but it’s the W12 that will really blow you and everything else on the road, clean away. This huge unit pumps out 450bhp and a tarmac-curling 560Nm of torque – now that’s an engine, and if you’re buying a Phaeton, it’s surely the only option to go for.

2009 Volkswagen PhaetonThe Phaeton includes as standard equipment such handy gizmos as a navigation system, all-wheel drive, air suspension, draft-free four-zone automatic climate control with vents that disappear behind wood-veneer hatches, the most gorgeou 12-way front power seats and a comprehensive list of safety and driver-assisting technology.

Standard safety features includes ABS brakes, anti-slip control, electronic differential lock, engine braking control, electronic brake force distribution and electronic stabilization technology, along with front, side and curtain airbags, and a tyre pressure monitor to warn you of any drops in tyre pressure that could mean a puncture. This car has features galore, but has failed to spark the public imagination. The plus side of this, however, is that they’re often going for very little cash.
2009 Volkswagen Phaeton

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