The Truth About Cars » Phaeton The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:36:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Phaeton Horn: VW Phaeton To Return To US In 2018 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:00:18 +0000 phaetons

In an interview with Bloomberg at the 2014 New York Auto Show, Volkswagen America CEO Michael Horn says the Phaeton will return to the United States market as early as 2018.

Autoblog reports the full-size luxury sedan — which last sold in 2006 on our shores — has been under consideration by the automaker for a return sometime between 2018 and 2019. No word has been given on whether or not the 2018 Phaeton will be underpinned by the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, as it was the last time the sedan was sold.

Whether the return will be marred once more by customers scoffing at the idea of paying Audi-A8 money for a VW badge depends on what Horn does to improve dealer relationships, which are strained between the automaker and the network as of late. Currently, both sides are in negotiations regarding improvements to bonuses, marketing and other issues in the hope narrowing the “great distance” between the two parties.

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Made-In-China Phaeton? Um Himmelswillen! Thu, 30 Aug 2012 11:07:04 +0000

Wolfsburg’s Über-VW, the Phaeton, will be produced in China. At least if the Chinese car site Auto.163 is correct. The news is coming to you via Chinacartimes, which doubts the article’s veracity, not only because the logic behind Auto.163’s reasoning is a bit backwards. Is it really?Says Chinacartimes:

“Auto.163 are citing VW’s new DSG gearbox factory in Tianjin as the source for its Chinese Phaeton rumors. The new gearbox factory will produce the DQ380 and DQ500 gearboxes which are only used in the flagship vehicle. Does this mean the Phaeton will be produced in China? Probably not. Does it mean that the gearbox will likely be exported? Probably yes.”

The Phaeton became infamous in the U.S. for being a dud. It was pulled off the U.S. market in 2006, despite the efforts of Jack Baruth to prop up its market share by buying two. That spike in the U.S. Phaeton sales, that was Jack.

The Phaeton currently goes through its second spring. Last year, 11.000 were sold, 50 percent more than in the already surprisingly good 2010. Moving the production of the Phaeton to China would make sense. “Asia is its most important market,” said a Volkswagen spokesman. “70 percent of the vehicles go to the Far East.”

China is the Phaeton’s largest market also because the Phaeton is a great way around some company or government purchasing rules. The buyer can claim with a straight face that “it’s a Volkswagen.”

“The Phaeton is priced from an affordable 758,800 RMB to 2.53 million in the Chinese market,” says Chinacartimes. That’s between $120,000 and $400,000. Should it be produced in China, the price could come down  a bit because the 25 percent import tax is avoided. But then, once you are in that stratosphere, a few dollars less don’t really count. Also, Volkswagen could close the Phaeton’s factory in Dresden if most of them are made in Shanghai.

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Review: 2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec Take Two Tue, 13 Dec 2011 20:13:52 +0000 The Japanese are always worried about what the North Koreans have up their sleeve, but if the writing on the wall were legible, they would be more concerned about what’s going on in the south. If the 2009 Hyundai Genesis was a shot across the bow of Lexus and Infiniti, then the Genesis 5.0 R-spec may be a torpedo hit below the water, and speaking of which, even the Germans should take notice. Of course, we heard this before with the likes of the VW Phaeton, however that model tanked, so is the top-line Genesis biting off more than it can chew? Lets find out.

In my mind, the Phaeton was doomed to failure when VW decided to equip their new full-on luxury sedan with a full-sized price tag. Instead of following the same model, Hyundai stayed true to their value roots and created a luxury sedan with a Hyundai-sized price tag with the Genesis 3.8 and 4.6. What could be next from the boffins in Korea? The Genesis 5.0 R-Spec, a value-priced performance luxury sedan of course.

From the outside, the Genesis (in all trims) strikes most of the right cords with luxury shoppers that prefer flowing lines to sharp creases. While previous products from Korea have been more imitation than innovation, the Genesis both deviates from the theme yet clearly draws inspiration from Lexus, BMW and Mercedes. Unlike some Kias we could mention, the overall look is distinctive enough (in my mind) that nobody would confuse it for anything else on the road. Neither however, would the casual observer ever confuse it for a Hyundai if it didn’t have the stylized H logo on the trunk. Styling mission accomplished (but like many buyers, I might remove that H badge when I got it home).

Of course, we’re here to talk about the performance part of the equation. The 5.0 R-Spec is an all-new trim in the Genesis family. AMG and M have little to worry about however as the Genesis 5.0 as Hyundai has no intention at present to compete head on with the balls-out performance sedans from Germany. So what is an “R-Spec”? Think Audi S rather than RS. While there is little outside to differentiate the 5.0 from its lesser models, a closer look reveals unique wheels, lower profile rubber, and upgraded brakes. Also new for 2012 are some new headlamps with a distinctive LED accent strip, new bumpers with integrated exhaust (ala the LS460) and new power-folding mirrors. The real change however, is under the hood where an all-new 429HP 376 lb-ft 5.0L direct injection V8 is mated to an all-new 8-speed automatic transmission. While that sentence sounds right at home in a review about a new Mercedes E550 or BMW 550i, the novelty in the room is that we’re talking about a Hyundai. This new engine and new transmission (the rest of the Genesis line-up also receives the 8-speed transmission for 2012) shows just how serious Hyundai is about playing with the big boys. Readers will probably recall Hyundai recently designed an all-new 6-speed transmission, now circular-filed in favor of this new octo-cog-swapper. That’s some serious R&D spending. For those who enjoy gear counting, note that this makes the 5.0 R-Spec one cog ahead of Mercedes.

If we digress for a moment, an open question to our readers from me: how much does the price tag change your perception of a car, all things being the same? Sound out in the comment section below.

On the inside, the Genesis R-Spec wears the same duds as the other Genesis models except that the color selection boils down to black or black: black-on-black dash, black faux wood and black seats with black carpet. The overall monochromatic theme struck me as an odd choice as I found it cheaper looking to my eye than the Genesis 3.8/4.6 models with the two-tone burgundy interior. Cost being a factor, the stitched pleather goodness found carefully sprinkled throughout the interior doesn’t extend to the dashboard top which looks a touch cheap when put right next to the stitched trim. Fortunately the fake wood is kept to a fair minimum and in some ways I don’t know if I mind too much as there are plenty of $100,000 luxury sedans sporting wood stained so dark it looks like plastic.

For 2012 the Genesis receives a new 3.8L V6, this time with direct-injection added to the variable valve train party. The new V6 cranks out a very respectable 333HP and 292lb-ft of twist at 6400RPM and 5100RPM respectively. The 4.6L Tau V8 is left unchanged for 2012, which seems like something of a pity since it still doesn’t benefit from direct injection. Of course the big reason for testing the mildly re-worked Genesis for 2012 is because of the new 5.0 R-Spec model, so let’s dive under that hood. The 5.0L V8 serves up 429HP at 6400RPM and 376lb-ft at 5000RPM, very healthy numbers considering it is tuned to run on regular 87 octane gasoline. Joining the new V8 is a sport tuned suspension and lower profile tires on 19-inch wheels. (The observant will note they are not any wider than the 4.6L V8’s rubbers)

Gadgets are an important part of any luxury sedan, and this is one area where Hyundai has left a few gizmos out to keep costs down. Compared to iDrive and Infiniti’s fairly slick touch screen system, Hyundai’s infotainment offering is a touch less functional and less intuitive. When pitted against Mercedes Command or Lexus’ aging system however, the Hyundai infotainment software scores highly for look and feel. Hyundai convinced Lexicon (purveyor of sound systems to Rolls Royce) to create the 528-watt, 17-speaker, 5.1-surround audio system. The stereo sounds great and the subwoofer certainly makes watching movies on the nav screen strangely entertaining, but it is a notch behind the maximum capabilities of the 1,000+ watt systems in the European competition.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Infiniti’s M can be had with more nannies than a pack of trust fund babies at the park, this is another area where the Genesis’ price point causes some compromises. The Genesis has lane departure warning but no lane departure prevention, radar cruise control but no blind spot warning system and of course it won’t park itself. Still, the gizmos Hyundai did select are a good balance in my mind. My only complaint about the cruise control system Hyundai used is that it will take you to a crawl but unlike the competition it won’t stop you or hold you at a stop. The integrated collision warning system is also a near miss for me, it’s not adjustable and by default it warns you so late by the time it beeps (faintly) and puts a small red logo in the instrument cluster (where it’s hard to see), it’s too late to do anything about the emergency.  Also on the cutting room floor sits a cooled front passenger seat, heated steering wheel, and auto up/down windows for the rear. While these omissions bothered my esteemed co-worker Michael in his first take, I actually don’t mind as most people drive solo anyway and if I’m buying the car, I care about the driver most (me) and the bargain second. Option packages are a great way to drive up costs, so Hyundai decided to leave well enough alone making the R-Spec come only fully-loaded and in truth 98% of what luxury car buyers usually buy is there, and that’s saying something.

Out on the road the Genesis 5.0’s sport tuned active suspension (by SACHS) provides a ride that is noticeably firmer than the Genesis 4.6 yet is still on the softer side of the Euro competition. If you prefer floating on a cloud, you should opt for the softer riding Genesis 4.6 (or LS460) instead. If however you like corner carving, the BMW 550i is obviously your choice. Yet strangely enough the Genesis provides a good balance between the 550i and the LS460 with impressive BMW-like thrust and grip that’s somewhere between the two and fairly on par with the M56. The Hyundai 8-speed automatic is not as smooth as the ZF 8-speed Audi and BMW employ, but it is fairly similar in feel to the Lexus unit. Yet again the need to keep costs down and options non-existent means unlike the competition there is no AWD Genesis available. Driving purists will of course scoff at my love of four-wheel propulsion, but in the wet the Genesis has trouble applying all 429 ponies.

A comparably equipped Lexus LS460 Sport or Mercedes E550 easily crest $70,000, in this light the Hyundai is a screaming deal and gives up little for the $20,000+ delta in price (other than brand). The fact that you can even mention Hyundai, Lexus, Mercedes, Audi, Infiniti and BMW in the same sentence is something to behold. Saying that the Genesis 5.0 is better than the gaggle of luxury people-schlepers is something I just can’t say, but in many areas it is quite possibly just as good and yet I find myself saying a rare thing as I handed the Genesis back: this is a car I would buy myself. And that is where it departs from the VW Phaeton in my mind; the Phaeton is just too expensive for the badge, even for me.

The question we can’t answer here at TTAC is: can Hyundai convince luxury car buyers that they can get most of the same goodies on a $46K Hyundai as a $70K German or Japanese sedan? Even if that hurdle can be jumped, will the brand whores think twice? To those adventurous car shoppers who manage to look beyond brand perception however, they will find a car maker with the best warranty in the industry making reliable cars with a smidgen of style and a ‘whole lotta’ value. What kind of buyer are you? Are you buying that LS460 because it carries a $70,000 price tag, or because you like the way it coddles you? Are you buying the BMW for the roundel or for the 0-60 time? I would posit the Hyundai does all the above minus the badge.


 Hyundai provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Statistics as tested

0-60: 4.9 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.4 Seconds @ 106 MPH

Fuel Economy: 22.4 MPG over 689 miles

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The Recession Is Over: Phaeton Production Needs Second Shift Wed, 26 Jan 2011 08:04:16 +0000

The recession must have come to a sudden end.  Volkswagen can’t make enough Phaetons to meet demand. Last year, Volkswagen sold 7,000 of the facelifted Über-VW. This year, all indicators say “mehr.” You probably suspect who’s buying most of those Phaetons:

The Chinese.

China has become the biggest market of the Phaeton. It is being built in what must be the world’s fanciest car factory. Imagine shiny parquet floor. Bright wood where no tires touch the floor. Dark wood where the car come down to earth. To fill the sudden demand, the Phaeton factory in Dresden is switching from one to two shifts, reports Automobilwoche [sub]. It can now crank out 48 hand-built Phaetons per day.

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Attention, Jack Baruth: Volkswagen Brings Phaeton Back To The U.S.A. Tue, 15 Jun 2010 17:07:13 +0000

Jack Baruth’s favorite car (he was pretty much alone with that affliction) is coming back stateside: The Phaeton, Volkswagen’s hand-built ueber-mobil. Not a rumor. Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said it to the Freie Presse in Chemnitz. A VW spokesperson  in Dresden, where the Phaeton is handcrafted , said there is no exact timing.

The car was sold until 2006 in the U.S.A., with less than overwhelming success. Undeservedly, it’s a great car. Especially on the German Autobahn with the W12  engine and a friend at Volkswagen who took the silly 250km/h limitation out of the computer. When Americans didn’t get the ostentatious understatement the Phaeton offers, Winterkorn’s predecessor Bernd Pischetsrieder ordered retreat. Winterkorn now calls that „a short winded decision.“ Winterkorn told the paper: “Launching a newcomer in the luxury segment needs patience and perseverance.“

The Phaeton’s main market will remain China. In the last year, 1400 of the car were sold in the Middle Kingdom. This year, the target is 3000, says Gasgoo. A facelifted  Phaeton, including one with the for China obligatory longer wheelbase, was debuted at the Beijing Auto Show.

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Facelifted Phaeton Emerges In Beijing, Armed To The Teeth Thu, 22 Apr 2010 11:40:45 +0000

Volkswagen confirmed today that reports of a facelifted Phaeton are true. Tomorrow and on Saturday, the press can admire the car at the Beijing Autoshow. From April 27 to May 2, the remaining 1.3b Chinese will be able to get a first look, and decide whether the car fits in their purchasing plans.

Eight years after the Phaeton was launched in Germany with great fanfare, and four years after it was pulled from the US market due to being a resounding sales flop, a face-lift has been long overdue. “Usually, one would expect a whole new generation after eight years in production,” complained Germany’s Focus Magazine. Not a whole lot has changed at the outside. But the on-board electronic weaponry has been escalated to a level that soon will put JSTARS to shame.

The Phaeton received a nose job (praised in the press release as a “completely new front section” that  “further refined the model’s very own stylistic aplomb.”)  The Phaeton also received a fanny-tuck (a.k.a. “modifications to its rear section.”) The rest must rely on the Phaeton’s “timeless elegance.”

When the Phaeton was launched, it was chockablock full of electronics. In Wolfsburg, they called it a “Technologieträger” (technology carrier.) It had a dizzying array of 56 computers, interconnected by 3 separate CAN buses. We quipped at the time in internal literature that the car “has more computers and is better networked than a small company.”

Technology marches on, and the facelifted Phaeton received a healthy dosage, further to flummox the average repair person, and to add new acronyms to the Wolfsburgian language. The 2011 Phaeton will  come with Dynamic Light Assist (camera-based dynamic main beam regulation.) It’s navigation system can integrate online data from Google into the map display Data will be loaded on a 30 Gig hard drive over the Internet via mobile telephone “and a proxy server specially set up for the purpose.”

The Google feature most likely will not be overly stressed in Beijing, given the state of Google’s affairs in China. The proxy gives VW the opportunity to side-step any possible Google-blocking in China. Tunneling via proxy through the Chinese firewall is a popular sport in China. The Phaeton would be the first car to be equipped with that sneaky feature. Google will deliver point of interest data such as “tourist sights, businesses, sports venues, and doctors’ surgeries.” The latter feature was most likely added to get back into the good graces of Jack Baruth, one of VW’s former U.S. volume customers (he had two Phaetons.)

VW  Buyers with a nanny-fetish can check off the an optional front camera that enables the Phaeton  “to ‘see’ road signs, with speed limit signs visualised on the instrument panel and centre console’s touchscreen. Very hepful: The system also recognizes the nasty little footnotes under posted speed limits (such as ‘10pm – 6am’ or ‘When wet’). FYI, in Germany, “When wet” (“Bei Nässe”) refers to the road surface, not to the state of your copilot.

The system will also be able to “recognize and depict ‘no overtaking’ signs – the first in the world to do so!” No word on automatically lowering the speed, or prohibiting Baruthian drivers from flaunting the law. “Side assist” will turn into a nattering backseat-driver if you change lanes with someone in your dead spot, or without using the blinker. As a further nod to Jack Baruth, all electronic nannies can be muzzled by resolutely pressing a button in the “center of the indicator stalk for more than a second.”

Still handmade at the “Transparent Factory” in Dresden, the Phaeton will be available as normal and long, a nod to Chinese clientele of that segment that leaves the ordeals of driving to a driver. The long version adds 12 centimeters. In the engine department, the choice is between gasoline and diesel, hybrid lovers may not apply. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Phaeton will not shed its brutish W12 twelve-pot gasoline engine that delivers 450hp. More sedate V8 (335hp) and V6 (280 hp) engines are available. Oil-burner aficionados will receive “an extremely frugal and smooth-running V6 TDI.” According to VW, in Europe this is the most frequently selected engine for this car. The turbocharged common rail direct injection engine delivers 240 hp and accelerates the Phaeton V6 from 0 to 100 km/h in just 8.6 seconds. Top speed with this example of frugality (8.5 liters per 100 km) will be 237 km/h. With the W12, you can easily exceed 300 km/h, if you know someone at the factory, or a clever technician, who erases the 250 km/h speed limiter from the on-board computer.

China is critical to the Phaeton’s survival. Last year, “Chinese deliveries of the Phaeton rose 40 percent to a record 1,400 cars. Volkswagen aims to increase that figure to at least 2,000 vehicles this year, a 43 percent gain, to make China the model’s biggest market,” says China Daily. Volkswagen sold 4,500 Phaetons worldwide last year.

In China, about 825,000  citizens had a net worth of 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) or more last year, and the average tycoon can live in harmony with the working masses by choosing a Phaeton: “Look, I drive a Volkswagen, just like you. It’s the people’s car!”

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: As Phaet Would Have It… Edition Mon, 12 Apr 2010 18:34:42 +0000

Goodness gracious, but the re-born Volkswagen Phaeton [as spied by AutoExpress] sure looks like a giant Passat. If anything, it might even be less distinctive than the old version. Because sometimes you have to learn a lesson the hard way. Twice.

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The Phaeton Rises From The Ashes – In Beijing Fri, 02 Apr 2010 16:14:15 +0000

As you are reading this, worker bees in the employ of Volkswagen are putting the last touches on a revamped model of the venerable Phaeton, overtime be damned. When everything is in Ordnung and the Spaltmass (panel gap) is as tight as a vise, the Phaeton will be loaded on the next Lufthansa freighter, and – eat your heart out, Jack Baruth – it will be flown to Beijing. As China Daily has it, “Volkswagen AG is speeding up a face-lift of the $88,000 Phaeton sedan in time to unveil the model at the Beijing auto show and target China’s millionaires.” That’s $88K for the base model, boys.

Eight years after the Phaeton was launched in Germany with great fanfare, and four years after it was pulled from the US market due to being a resounding sales flop, the Phaeton will finally get a face-lift. “Usually, one would expect a whole new generation after eight years in production,” grouches Germany’s Focus Magazine. Nothing doing. Nobody will spend the €670m the car cost in 2002 development money again. (And that’s not counting the silly “Gläserne Manufaktur” in Dresden, where the car is hand-made right in front of your eyes.)

Undergoing cosmetic surgery, the Phaeton will get a nose-job and a fanny-tuck. Or rather “new front and rear sections, an interior upgrade and a wider selection of engines for the car,” as China Daily was told anonymously.

Apropos of the motor strategy, Focus Magazine has a less glamorous version: The Phaeton’s brutish W12 cylinder 48 valve aluminium-silicon alloy engine will bite the dust. That triumph of the mill will make room for more parsimonious “V8 gasoline and diesel engines. A hybrid will follow later.”

Still interested, Jack? I thought not.

Originally, the launch of the phlebotomized Phaeton was planned for an autumn release, but a look at the sales charts made Wolfsburg rush the car to China.

China is a land of Phaetonphiles.

Out of 4,500 Phaetons sold worldwide last year, 1,400 went to China, a rise of 40 percent. Volkswagen aims to increase that figure to at least 2,000 vehicles this year, a 43 percent gain. This would make China the model’s biggest market, China Daily’s sources say. So where else to premiere the Phaeton’s new physique than at the upcoming Beijing Auto Show, in the last week of April.

About 825,000 Chinese citizens had a net worth of 10 million yuan ($1.5m) or more last year, the Hurun Report, China’s answer to Forbes, said in April 2009. China’s millionaires are a youthful bunch. On average, they are 39 years old. That’s when Germans buy their first new Polo. “Hurrah!” shouted the Marketing Dept. of Volkswagen, at long last, a young and affluent target group was found. All eyes are on China, and on future Phaetons parked in front of discos called Vics or Babyface.”

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