Ever hear the term “A fish out of water”? Well, that’s kinda’ how I view the Volkswagen Phaeton. The Phaeton was Volkswagen’s first foray into the big boy luxury car market in the United States back in 2004, and to say it failed miserably would be an understatement. Not that the Phaeton wasn’t a nice car, it was in fact a beautiful automobile and shared much of its underpinnings with the Audi A8. It was fast, quiet and had all the refinements of its competitors. In the end however it did possess two major flaws. One was the $60,000 + price tag, and two was the fact that it said VW on the back.
VW had created a car that was meant to go head to head with Audi, BMW and Mercedes for basically the same money, and that my friends is where they shot themselves in the foot. Sure the Phaeton was a great car, but like I said, why would you buy a VW when you could by one of Europe’s big three for the same money. For example in 2004 VW sold just 1,433 Phaetons and in 2005 just 820. This caused VW to announce that they were pulling the car from the U.S. market in 2006.
Fast forward now 5 years to the Beijing Auto Show and the new 2011 Volkswagen Phaeton. While the styling is in no way revolutionary, it has definitely evolved nicely. A new front fascia incorporates a nicely done chrome grille with Audi style LED running lamps, while the rear of the new Phaeton has new tail lamps and a three-dimensional VW insignia. The big VW also has the technology department covered as well with features like road sign recognition, dynamic cruise control and blind-spot alert. Power is to come from either a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 280 hp, a 4.2-liter V8 with 335 hp or a big W12 with a stump pulling 450 hp.
There is no word yet as to whether the new 2011 Volkswagen Phaeton will be hitting North American shores. If VW does decide to bring their new flagship over to this side of the pond though they best get their marketing hat on because it’s going to take a lot of prodding to get American’s to pay $60k + for a VW.