In 2015, a new VW Phaeton Mk2 will be revealed. With an architecture masterminded by its Audi cousins, the VW631(as it was dubbed) will have an aluminium-intensive body structure and a much more advanced and less nose-heavy dynamic layout.
Martin Winterkorn, the VW chairman, black-flagged in the past various models which were based on Audi’s such Avantissimo(A8-based) and Passat Variant Plus (A6-derived), but it remains to be seen what it will happen now, with this more practical bodystyle in addition to the four-door model which is mandatory in this segment.
A five-door coupe could also be practical, but this is a more pragmatic shape that is better for Volkswagen. Now, all we know is that the Phaeton MkII will be positioned between A6 and A8, and it will be available with a four-cylinder engine, a hybrid and a pair of high-output sixes.
Why is VW replacing the Phaeton? It’s hardly been a sales hit…
Well, this is true, the Phaeton model never was a big success, although marketing did everything possible to accomplish that, the luxury saloon was overshadowed by 7series, A8 and S-class.
Used as a demonstrator, courtesy car or VIP shuttle, the high-end VW still failed because it was a no-name product, but this explanation of the sales and marketing department doesn’t tell the full story.
Other reasons for this were the poor ride comfort, conservative styling, the totally uninspiring handling and the array of V8, V10 and W12 engines that eat a lot of fuel.
So what’s the Phaeton good at?
The Phaeton has one strong point even after its third facelift, and that is the cabin that matches any Bentley even though its layout is as contemporary as a Biedermeier sideboard, and the electronic part lags one generation behind the leaders.
It’s not a secret anymore that the next Phaeton model will be styled from the inside out, going from an old world interior to a much more timely exterior. But how do we define timely? Well, VW will have to answer this question in the following year. Three options were discussed before the summer break: a stylish five-door hatchback, another three-box notchback and an elegant and luxurious Super-Variant.
The new Phaeton nearly popped up at Frankfurt
VW intended to see what happens at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show but Wolfsburg decided to keep the IAA only for the Up. Even the mooted Concept D, has been pushed back to a later date. The first time when it was used was in 1999 for a five-door hatchback version of the Phaeton model, which arrived in 2002 in a 3-box form. Although Concept D looked far better than the real thing, VW settled for a boring big saloon that wasn’t good for the brand image.
They wanted to make a better future for Phaeton, and tried different options like a stillborn Phaeton coupe, a high-roof high-class spaceliner favored by Bernd Pischestrieder and a radically downsized replacement known as Passat Plus.