The Phaeton Rises From The Ashes - In Beijing

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
the phaeton rises from the ashes in beijing

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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2 of 13 comments
  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Apr 02, 2010

    (edit function seems to have disappeared) For what it's worth, there are 11 for sale on eBay and 62 on Auto Trader. Most are W8s though.

  • Vww12 Vww12 on Apr 03, 2010

    «Usually, one would expect a whole new generation after eight years in production» The Phaeton was a very advanced car when in debuted in Europe in 2003. Since the design of its electronics is highly modular, VW has kept adding on the goodies and new Phaetons are available with the latest goodies, many of which remain unavailable on most new cars. Hardware bits such as 18-inch carbon fiber-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brakes are also available. The bits that are genuinely obsolete are the 5-speed transmission on the W12s and the 6-speed trannies on everything else. The cost of reengineering the motive side is probably what led VAG to drop the 12-pot. Oh, and the fact that W12s only ever made a tiny slice of Euro and US versions, and that by far most Chinese versions are V6s that were never even available stateside.

  • Alan I would think Ford would beef up the drive line considering the torque increase, horse power isn't a factor here. I looked at a Harrop supercharger for my vehicle. Harrop offered two stages of performance. The first was a paltry 100hp to the wheels (12 000AUD)and the second was 250hp to the wheels ($20 000 (engine didn't rev harder so torque was significantly increased)). The Stage One had no drive line changes, but the Stage Two had drive line modifications. My vehicle weighs roughly the same as a full size pickup and the 400'ish hp I have is sufficient, I had little use for another 100 let alone 250hp. I couldn't see much difference in the actual supercharger setup other than a ratio change for the drive of the supercharger, so that extra $8 000 went into the drive line.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 ( Bronze or Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • ToolGuy Last picture: Labeling the accelerator as "play" and the brake pedal as "pause" might be cute, but it feels wrong. It feels wrong because it is wrong, and it is wrong because Calculus.Sidebar: I have some in-laws who engage the accelerator and brake on a binary on/off all-in basis. So annoying as a passenger.Drive smoothly out there. 🙂
  • Johnny ringo It's an interesting vehicle, I'd like to see VW offer the two row Buzz in the states also.
  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......