VW scoop special: Phaeton

Published: 22 December 2008

Reinventing the Phaeton will be one of, if not the toughest jobs at Wolfsburg. As well made and sumptuous as it was, VW’s big limousine always seemed to stretch the brand’s credibility too far. As the company found out, people will pay £50k upwards for a premium saloon, but only if it has a premium badge on its snout – good if you are Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Maserati or Mercedes. Not good if you are VW…

So will it get dropped from the VW line-up?

That’s the question being asked by the marketers and accountants at VW. It was facelifted this year (what, you mean you didn’t notice the revised grille and new alloy wheels? Shame on you…) and yet another facelift has been penned in for 2011. But after that there’s no plan to replace the Phaeton in 2014. Cue the tumbleweed…

I thought the new Phaeton was going to go all quirky and crossovery?

A tall five-door hatch had been on the drawing board but VW boss Martin Winterkorn killed it dead in favour of the current car’s traditional three-box style. But following in the current car’s footsteps may prove an expensive lesson in not learning from your history. Hence the rumours that a much bigger five-door coupé – think current Passat CC but much bigger - is under consideration. Built to take on the Mercedes CLS, the Phaeton Mk11 will keep its signature luxury cabin but will trade on the all-season versatility of its layout and all-wheel drivetrain. That’s if VW decide to ever build it, that is…

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars