2004 Phaeton: Volkswagen’s High-Luxury Sedan Sails into the U.S. Premium Market

Volkswagen’s luxury 2004 Volkswagen Phaeton arrives in North America toward the end of the year, becoming the German automaker’s flagship car and a dramatic expression of the Volkswagen brand’s unique character. The all-new Phaeton (pronounced “fayh-ton”) sedan is Volkswagen’s first foray into the U.S. ultra-luxury segment.

“Phaeton is a completely original creation, just as you would expect from Volkswagen. This car will appeal to people we call ‘Transcendent Drivers’ – people who are not resigned to traditional German luxury-car pretenses. They are drivers who believe that luxury transcends traditional boundaries and badges,” said Frank Maguire, vice president in charge of sales and marketing, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “The Phaeton is the most technologically advanced, dynamic, luxurious and well-thought-out Volkswagen ever built, and like all Volkswagens, expresses individuality and nonconformism in the segment it competes in.”

The stretched Phaeton, to be sold first in the United States, measures nearly five inches longer than the Phaeton model that went on sale in Europe last year. The 118-inch wheelbase Phaeton sedan has plenty of legroom and compares more than favorably in spaciousness, comfort and attention-to-luxury detail to its worthy competitors.

At almost 204 inches in length and standing 57 inches tall, Phaeton is Volkswagen’s biggest and, correspondingly, most powerful car ever. Still, the quietly elegant and aesthetically pleasing Phaeton debuts as one of the most accessible and best-equipped German high-end luxury sedans ever.

Simple yet stylish Teutonic lines hint at Phaeton’s promise of Autobahn-tested performance and precision driving, a testament to the best of German engineering and technical prowess.

The Phaeton is assembled in Volkswagen’s state-of-the-art “transparent” factory. Opened in 2002, the facility is located in Dresden, Germany.

For the U.S. market, Phaeton offers two exceptionally powerful engine configurations. The high-torque 4.2 liter V8 engine delivers a strong 335 horsepower at 6,500 revolutions per minute. The top-of-line 6.0 liter W12 engine – essentially comprised of two compact V6s in a marvel of modular design – registers a remarkable 420 hp at 6,000 rpm. Volkswagen estimates the W12 accelerates from 0-to-60 in a scant 5.9 seconds.

The Phaeton’s W12 engine sets new standards with its torque curve, agility, compactness and quiet performance. Equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission (Tiptronic® with alternative sequential shifting) as standard, the Phaeton’s W12 engine has a reliable, highly compact design: 21 inches long, 28 inches high and 27 inches wide.

The W12 features a torsion-proof aluminum crankcase with durable cylinder walls, and its consistent lightweight construction is enhanced by a magnesium valve cover and a double-flow magnesium intake manifold.

The W12 engine layout utilizes a wet sump lubrication system and consists of two very small 15-degree V6 modules laid out at a 72-degree angle, plus a shared seven-bearing crankshaft, all fitting neatly in a double-V arrangement – thus its W namesake. This concept results in an ultra-compact design, compared to a normal V12 engine. The stacked cylinder arrangement, combined with the cylinder/bank angle, also results in the W12’s unusually highly rigid crankcase, where split pins are displaced by 12 degrees to one another due to the bank angle, allowing uniform ignition intervals.

What’s more, the W12 engine has a proven track record of performance and stability at the race track in Nardo, Italy, where it helped set numerous international speed records powering Volkswagen’s specially built super sports car.

Both the V8 and W12 Phaetons offer Volkswagen’s exclusive 4MOTION®, a permanent all-wheel-drive system with a Torsen® (TORque SENsing) center differential. 4MOTION four-wheel drive offers significant advantages in traction and handling when compared to rear-wheel drive configurations typical of this segment. Power flows from the automatic transmission’s gearbox to the Torsen differential, which automatically regulates the 50/50 power distribution to front and rear axles.

By introducing the exquisitely crafted and confident Phaeton in the U.S. high-end luxury segment, Volkswagen is not abandoning it core values. Indeed, with Phaeton, Volkswagen is poised to widen its appeal by bringing Volkswagen’s renowned value-for-the-money equation to a premium segment. Phaeton simply and with great originality delivers the best qualities of German-engineered performance and luxury at a superior value.

“The Phaeton will appeal to luxury car drivers who seek meticulous attention to detail, a unique driving experience, quality design and the best materials – not image or status,” said Maguire. “With Phaeton, Volkswagen also is expanding its appeal to loyal Volkswagen owners who want the very best in a sedan and a place to move up to in the family lineup.”

The Phaeton debut comes on the heels of the 2004 Volkswagen Touareg sport utility vehicle launched earlier in 2003. With Phaeton and Touareg, Volkswagen’s six-model lineup expands to eight formidable contenders.

Phaeton represents a natural evolution of Volkswagen’s DNA. That concept becomes evident when considering where Volkswagen has gone and where it’s going with a distinctive and evolving product line ­– from the New Beetle to the award-winning Touareg.

Quietly elegant, Phaeton offers an abundance of standard comfort and convenience features. Volkswagen designers took care to assure Phaeton’s world-class interior and exterior elements convey a sense of safety and tranquility combined with technical innovation and understated elegance. Meticulous attention to detail is seen in the ample use of premium quality materials in the cabin ­– from walnut or eucalyptus wood to supple Italian leather, sophisticated chrome and brushed metal, all harmoniously integrated to create incredible ambience, functionality and authenticity.

Phaeton’s high-tech and confident luxury character can be seen in exterior details like its contemporary Xenon headlights. A tapered front-end design highlights an elegant and robust interpretation of the modern family of Volkswagen cars – almost an iconic image of the brand. Unobtrusive contours take a confident course to the rear of the vehicle. Those with an eye for design will note the bright, round taillights that reflect the logical geometry of an elegantly modest lamp design.

Drivers can choose from four-seat or five-seat Phaeton four-door models. The four-seater comes with a wood-trimmed console between the rear seats.

The Phaeton features world-class Climatronic®, a draft-free, four-zone climate control system with humidity sensors and separate temperature controls. Other standard features include: aerodynamic Xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps, heated washer nozzles for front windshield, courtesy entry-exit lights at all doors, an oversized sunroof with a deluxe shade, and a premium AM/FM sound system. Additional equipment includes a glovebox-mounted six-CD changer, a decklid closing automatically with the push of a button, a HomeLink® universal transmitter to program garage doors and home lights, and a remote-key anti-theft alarm system.

An integrated infotainment center with numerous personal profile settings features a seven-inch color screen that functions with the CD changer, navigation system, onboard trip computer and air conditioning.

Outside, sturdily constructed doors feature triple seals and double glass on windows to isolate road noise and assure a quiet ride.

For superior ride and handling, Phaeton’s air suspension system includes Continuous Damping Control, a program that automatically adapts the suspension to all driving conditions, road surfaces and vehicle speeds without the driver’s input. The electronically controlled system for regulating shock absorbers uses wheel acceleration sensors to monitor road conditions as the vehicle moves. The suspension has two driver- adjustable heights and four shock-absorber settings – comfort, basic, sport 1 and sport 2.

Volkswagen’s exclusive 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system, with torque evenly distributed between the front and wheel axles by the torque-sensing center differential, provides smooth and worry-free operation. The power of 4MOTION drive is distributed normally 50/50 with a maximum range of 67/33 to all four wheels so that optimum traction and lateral steering force of a wheel can be maintained at all times.

Going well beyond what’s expected even in this rarified class of vehicle, the Phaeton V8 makes a distinctive, confident entrance or exit with sporty 17-inch alloy wheels (with alloy spare). Other unique luxury features on the Phaeton V8 include 12-way power memory heated front seats with four-way power adjustable lumbar support; ambient lighting; superior eucalyptus wood interior trim; a leather-wrapped, hand-stitched steering wheel with multifunction controls (cruise, audio, onboard computer, etc.); self-dimming, folding power-heated exterior mirrors with memory function and self-dimming, memory interior mirrors; stainless steel pedals; power rear-window sunshades and side manual sunshades to assure even more cabin comfort; and a pass-through with ski bag.

The Phaeton V8 also offers as standard a 10-speaker, 190-watt premium sound system and a new OnStar® Telematics feature, plus a convenient center-console-mounted seven-inch screen navigation system that is easy to use and understand.

Moreover, the driver-oriented cockpit includes an instrument panel with a five-inch color multifunction display of vital information needed for self-assured driving. Importantly, the V8 engine has Volkswagen’s six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic shift control for smooth shifting throughout the gear range. Tiptronic allows the driver to select manual-style shifting by moving the selector level to the right from the “D” position to change gears; drivers push forward to upshift or move down to downshift.

Volkswagen’s proven five-speed automatic with Tiptronic also confidently manages the Phaeton W12. Along with height-adjustable air suspension with electronic damping control and Servotronic® power steering, the Phaeton’s longer wheelbase delivers a smooth, responsive ride under all driving conditions.

The highly refined Phaeton W12 comes with a host of standard features. To name a few: 18-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires; quad-visible exhaust pipes versus dual pipes on the V8 model; a sporty leather-wrapped, hand-stitched heated steering wheel with multifunction controls; a world-class, four-zone Climatronic system with rear-seat climate controls; and an upgraded 12-speaker, 270-watt sound system with digital sound processing. A coating of metalized infrared foil on windows is heat-reflective and shatter-resistant, while promoting interior comfort.

The W12 Phaeton’s 18-way memory power front seats are heatable, ventilated and have a 10-minute massage function and four-way power lumbar support. Rear seats also are heated. Interior trim on seating, steering wheel and doors includes premium wood, leather upgrades, and brushed metal accents.

As with all Volkswagen vehicles, concern for safety is uppermost in Phaeton. As standard safety equipment, both the V8 and W12 models have eight airbags, including

Volkswagen’s Side Curtain Protection®; a four-wheel Anti-lock Braking System with emergency brake assist; electronic park assist; an advanced Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP); ® and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Phaeton also has world-class safety-minded construction features designed to provide maximum collision protection. The front structure is capable of absorbing as much crash energy as possible in order to provide maximum occupant protection in combination with the Phaeton body’s outstanding torsional rigidity.

Phaeton comes with Volkswagen’s four-year/50,000 mile (whichever occurs first) bumper-to-bumper warranty. The warranty covers wear-and-tear items and adjustments during the initial 12 months or 12,000 miles of ownership, whichever comes first. Additional coverage includes a five-year/60,000 mile fully transferable powertrain warranty, corrosion perforation coverage for 12 years with unlimited mileage and the added security of four-year/50,000 mile, 24-hour roadside assistance.

Climatronic,” “4MOTION,” “Tiptronic,” Torsen,” and “Side Curtain Protection” are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG. All other trademarks used in this document are the property of their respective owners.