For many (ok most) buyers, luxury is about status and image. The Volkswagen Phaeton ran counter to that in every way. The general line of thinking is that if you aren’t going to get the badge on the hood, at least have the car be a value proposition. That is the case with Hyundai’s Equus.
Instead, the Phaeton has (had in the United States) a price tag that every bit matched its Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus counterparts. Perhaps what did it in even further was that it failed to make a splashy design statement. VW spared no expense in its development, but the Phaeton has never sold nearly as well as the competition. Despite this, Motor Trend says the company has green lighted its replacement.
VW stopped selling the Phaeton in the United States in 2006, but it has continued to be offered worldwide. For the past few years there has been constant speculation about its future. Most centered around a change in a radical change in focus rather than a next-generation version.
Instead, the car will be treated like any other next-generation vehicle program, reintroduced with the same size and price point. This decision comes after years of indecision, and if true think it is heavily influenced by the success of large luxury sedans in the Chinese market.
The biggest difference will be that the car will have exclusive W-8 power instead of offering a W-12 option. Like the original, the next-generation Phaeton will represent the pinnacle of VW’s engineering ability. Don’t expect a flashy exterior design either; the Phaeton will be a “straightforward sedan for the person who’s successful but doesn’t feel the need to show it.”
The only problem is, we didn’t think there was enough of those buyers out there, and the Phaeton seemed to prove that point. Here’s to hoping they can make it work next time around. They have time to get it right. The current Phaeton will soldier on until 2015 or 2016 when the replacement arrives.