Volkswagen’s legendary Phaeton is up for replacement and the German manufacturer has reportedly finished the development of its hand-built flagship.
The original Phaeton stunned the world when it was unveiled in 2002. It was the most expensive production Volkswagen ever and Dr Ferdinand Piech handed down a series of 10 incredible rules to the designers in a bid to make the Phaeton the most accomplished luxury car on the market.
It was part of a strategy that included the rebirth of Bugatti to stamp the VW Group’s authority on the world and technically the Phaeton was a masterpiece. In fact, VW registered at least 100 separate patents for the Phaeton, including draftless four-zone climate control and a new approach to the four-wheel-drive system, 4motion. Adaptive air suspension and continuous damping control kept the car absolutely level even in extreme conditions and squashed bad road surfaces underfoot. Automatic distance regulation and radar adaptive cruise control also featured.
It is a car that can be driven at 300kph (186mph) in exterior temperatures of 50 degrees Centigrade, while the interior remains a balmy 22 degrees, even though the Phaeton was actually limited to 155mph. It was also a car that set the benchmark for luxury and gave VW a real contender in the luxury class, especially when fitted with the legendary W12 engine.
The Phaeton shared a platform with the Bentley Continental GT and Flying Spur, which is about as solid a foundation as any luxury car could hope for.
The Phaeton remained a niche choice and did not make as big an impact on the global market as Piech would have liked. The successor is now ready, behind closed doors, though, and VW is working on the final production spec and pricing for its flagship.
The new car could be the world beater that Piech always wanted and the world is waiting with baited breath for the details.