The hallowed Bugatti Veyron is a car of superlatives and never-been-dones – the world’s fastest production car, one of its most exclusive, and for a time, the most powerful as well. You could say it certainly pushed the engineering envelope, and then some. But so did another Volkswagen Group model.
The Phaeton was said to be the pet project of recently-resigned VW chairman Ferdinand Piech, who had ambitions to build a Volkswagen brand rival to the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-series. Essentially, his pet passed with flying colors.
Engineers slaved over the Phaeton, making sure it met Piech’s 10 mysterious parameters, including a hood and wipers that wouldn’t vibrate at speeds of 190 mph and air conditioning that could spit out a constant 71 degrees while traveling at 186 mph in 122 degree heat.
To boot, Volkswagen also stuffed the Phaeton with loads of luxury and technology, including VW’s first radar adaptive cruise control, an adaptive air suspension, all-wheel-drive, and a 6.0-liter W12 engine, which also found itself under the Bentley Continental range.
It was the ultimate in understated luxury, but it lacked a premium badge, retailed for over $80,000 in W12 guise, and sold in poor numbers stateside. Volkswagen pulled the plug on the US Phaeton in ’06, but it has survived reasonably well in Germany and found a strong following in China.
And it will allegedly spawn a successor to reach the US market once again. Rumors suggest the next-gen Phaeton will arrive in 2018, pack a plug-in hybrid V6, and retail in the US starting at around $70,000. Luckily, if you want a low-mileage Phaeton that’s already here, you can pay quite a lot less. W12 Phaetons trade on the second hand market for between $10,000 and $20,000. So here’s a question: used Phaeton or a new Jetta?