Attention, Jack Baruth: Volkswagen Brings Phaeton Back To The U.S.A.

attention jack baruth volkswagen brings phaeton back to the u s a

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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  • Mazdarati Mazdarati on Jun 16, 2010

    I have had both a 2005 Phaeton V8 and a 2005 A8 4.2, so feel qualified to comment. Firstly, the Phaeton W12 is pretty much a Bentley without the twin turbochargers! I was in Dresden at the factory and saw both the Continental Flying Spur and Phaeton built on the same line. In the white, you have to look closely to tell the difference! The same brakes, suspension, transmission, driveline and a lot of other parts. Yes, the Bentley has a more "bespoke" interior, different styling and more power, but in no way is it built better or differently from a Phaeton. Bentleys built in Dresden were destined for the European market and only the Flying Spur was being built there; Continental GT's and Flying Spurs are built in Crewe. The materials in the interior of the Phaeton are of a higher standard than the A8, but both are very good. Phaeton and A8 also share many parts, but the A8's all aluminium construction makes it considerably lighter and thus both quicker and more nimble. To me, the current Phaeton is a more handsome car, I don't care for the "big mouth" grill treatment present in the A8 from 2005 in the W12 and 2006 in other models. I feel that many of the reliability issues reported for both cars can be attributed to a lack of knowledge by both owner and dealer service technicians. The electronics are complex and require knowledgable, well trained techs. I am lucky to have excellent dealers in my area (the VW dealer here provides the best service of any dealership I've used) and consider both cars to be very reliable. IF VW brings the Phaeton back to the USA, I would consider getting one. IMHO, if they make it different from the A8 by offering powerful, economical, diesel engines, they could eke out a great niche market as no other Lux manufacturer is offering a diesel in a car like this. I've been driving a Golf TDI and am sold on the technology; big torque at low RPM is nice! VW could promote the Phaeton as an "economical" "socially responsible" luxury car, that has low emissions and uses less fuel.

    • Newcarscostalot Newcarscostalot on Jun 16, 2010

      What lack of knowledge by the owner are you reffering, and how would this affect the reliability of faulty electronics? Also, if the car is faulty or has issues due to the design or parts from the factory, a lack of knowledge by 'techs' would have no bearing on anything unless they were unable to repair the car. Finally, I think there are alot of people on this board that are qualified to comment even though they don't own either of the vehicles you do.

  • Mazdarati Mazdarati on Jun 17, 2010

    In reply to newcarscostalot, I was not implying that others were not qualified to comment, only that by dint of my experience, that I felt qualified. With regard to owner knowledge, bear in mind both the Phaeton and A8 are complex vehicles with many user options. Some owners don't take the time to learn how these systems work (the manual is hundreds of pages) and, technicians not familiar with the car (common at some VW dealerships where Phaetons are rare),can spend hours trouble shooting, where a knowledgable technician has a quick fix. My A8 is now over 5 years old and has close to 70k miles, it has been totally reliable, other than one bad wheel bearing at 62k, it has only been to the shop for routine maintenance. The electronics have not been faulty, and I really appreciate the thoughtful programming Audi has developed.

  • Catbert430 Catbert430 on Jun 17, 2010

    I disagree that the Phaeton is just a rebadged Audi A8. Audi always injects at least a little bit of sporting nature into even their luxury models whereas the Phaeton is pure luxury. I was a Passat owner when the Phaeton was first released in the US market. I thought it was stunning and the perfect aspirational model for a Passat owner. Then, reality reared it's ugly head. I was at my VW dealer for a typical service appointment. No loaners. No car wash. sitting on a hard plastic chair in a waiting room the size of an office cubicle with 8 other tortured souls. On rare occasions, the service department asked if anyone wanted a coupon for a complimentary $3.99 special at the IHOP next door. Wait 2.5 hours to be told, "Your car is ready. We didn't have time to do anything but an oil and filter change. We'll do the rest ant your next visit. Please make another appointment when we're not so busy. Mondays are always a bad day." In the midst of all this tackiness, there is a beautiful, dark blue Phaeton on the showroom floor. It is cordoned-off by velvet ropes and sporting a large cardboard sign on the windshield that is hand-lettered, "Please do not touch!" Do you have to show them $68,000 in cash before they will let you sit in one? As much as I loved this car, I had to wonder who in their right mind would buy a high-end luxury car (This was only the V8) from these idiots? The customer service at many VW dealers is appalling. They shouldn't be dealing with anything that sells for more then $20,000 (most of their current lineup). IMHO, VWoA doesn't treat customers much better than their dealers either. They think most warranty claims are suspicious and that fsilures are the customers fault.

  • Asterix Asterix on Jun 17, 2010

    I'm a fan and a previous owner of both the W12 Phaeton (sold in March) and the Audi A8L (Traded in January). I second all of what Mazdarati said in his postings above. The 3 main problems that caused the car's failure are: 1. The people who need the feel good of driving a default brand name car and so can't justify paying premium to drive a "plain VW aka people's car" (that is as good if not better than 90% of its competition) 2. VW of A's lack of preparedness for a car of this magnitude 3. Owners with limited knowledge and access to VW dealerships with properly trained technicians. The Bentley Flying Spur is the closest car to a Phaeton in VW's fleet of brands. They actually share over 80% of parts of which the 20% difference is basically cosmetics (extra leather, twin turbo for an extra 56HP.)