The Volkswagen Phaeton is the largest VW sedan made for those who prefer to be chauffeured as opposed to driving the car themselves. The first iteration of the Phaeton came out back in 2002 and was followed by a hefty restyle in 2014. The Phaeton was officially discontinued back in 2016, but VW was planning to release its successor.
That is until Dieselgate happened when VW had to rethink its entire product strategy. Thanks to huge pay fines and compensations, the new Volkswagen Phaeton was eventually scrapped completely. Many credible sources state that the Phaeton was one of the biggest money pits in the history of the company as VW reportedly lost as much as €28,000 with each unit sold.
These are the main reasons why the Phaeton never came to be, but in July of 2022 VW released never-seen-before images of what was supposed to be the new Phaeton. They did this to celebrate the car’s 20th anniversary and we can wholeheartedly say that the D2 Phaeton seems like an impressive package.
In this article, we will compare the 1st generation of the Volkswagen Phaeton vs Volkswagen Phaeton D2 and tell you what it is we missed out on. Who knows, maybe the D2 Phaeton sees the light of day sometime down the line.
When the original VW Phaeton came out, people were quick to discover that it had certain features not many cars come with today. The original Phaeton was not based on the same platform as the Audi A8, but rather with the Bentley Flying Spur. Sure, the engines were shared between all three of these brands, but the Phaeton didn’t miss out on any of these.
The original Phaeton is available with both diesel and gasoline V6 engines, a gasoline V8, a diesel V10, or a range-topping gasoline W12. All models of the Phaeton offer upwards of 241hp while the aforementioned W12 offers 450hp and is one of the smoothest powertrains found in any car. AWD was included with most models, but some did come with a FWD setup.
The original Phaeton can now be had for as little as $5,000 while the average price paid for a 1st gen Phaeton is around $12,000. For this price, the VW Phaeton is an absolute and utter luxury car bargain, but maintenance costs aren’t as enticing. Either way, the original Phaeton offers acres of space in every way and it is a really comfortable car overall.
Reliability is not the car’s strong suit, mostly because people buy them for cheap, and tend to maintain them for cheap. Even so, the original Phaeton comes with strong engines, a really comfortable ride, a surprising amount of technology, and is as safe as a tank.
Volkswagen Phaeton D2
Believe it or not, the Tesla Model S was also the reason why the D2 Phaeton never came to be as that was the time VW decided to channel most of its financial efforts towards the MEB electric-car platform. However, behind the scenes, VW engineers were working on the new generation of the Phaeton which has finally seen the light of day in the summer of 2022.
The D2 Phaeton, available only in long-wheel-base was set to come with either a diesel V6, a hybrid gasoline V6, a diesel V8, or even a range-topping W12 engine found in the current Bentley Flying Spur. Sources state that this engine was set to produce around 650hp and a colossal 664lb-ft of torque. VW used some of their learnings on the D2 Phaeton for the production of the current Chinese-only VW Phideon.
The interior of the D2 Phaeton is a true festival of technology and luxury as it does resemble the VW Touareg, but with higher quality materials. There is enough space inside the D2 Phaeton for a football match as it only comes in LWB form. No matter how you look at it, the D2 Phaeton is a true flagship sedan.
However, the world had different plans, and Dieselgate, electric cars, and slow D1 Phaeton sales meant that the Phaeton D2 was just a distant dream.
Verdict – The Phaeton D2 is an amazing car, but it never came to be
It’s difficult to compare a car that has been out for 20 years and a car that was never even built. However, the D2 Phaeton enables us to see what could have been if cars such as these are as popular as they once were. VW knows that if they were to come out with the new Phaeton, the sales probably wouldn’t cut it.
As such, we are left wondering if VW made a good choice here, but the Audi A8, a car that shares its entire philosophy with the Phaeton is also rapidly declining in sales. As such, it is more than likely that the D2 would be just another money pit for VW.
Is the Volkswagen Phaeton a true luxury car?
Volkswagen is one of those brands that manages to walk the line between luxury cars and more ordinary cars. Some of their models like the Polo, the Golf, or the Jetta are not luxury cars even though they are quality products. On the other hand, the VW Phaeton, the Touareg, and potentially even the VW Arteon can be considered luxury cars.
The Phaeton is by far the most luxurious VW of all time, some even deem it to be a better overall car when compared to the German luxury trio from that era.
How does the VW Phaeton compare to the Mercedes S-Class, the BMW 7-Series, and the Audi A8?
Well, when it comes to badge appeal, the VW Phaeton simply can’t cut it, and given the fact that most people aren’t even all that aware of how actually good the Phaeton is, it certainly loses lots of buyers because it does not come with the most premium badge out there.
However, substance-wise, the Phaeton is not only on par with its German rivals but even manages to beat them in many different aspects. Moreover, the original Phaeton was more expensive than the rather questionable W220 S-Class.