Why get a Bentley or Audi when the Phaeton was so good?
The Volkswagen Phaeton may have been a colossal failure in the US, but it might have been the greatest car ever built. The car was the pet project of Ferdinand Piech, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. Piech was about to retire as the CEO of Volkswagen, but not before he commissioned one last masterpiece. The Phaeton was the result of 10 parameters that were so difficult to meet that half of the engineering team quit. Those who stayed, however, helped build Piech's vision of the greatest car in the world.
Only 2,253 people purchased a Phaeton in the United States. The car was available with a 4.2-liter V8 with 335 horsepower or an optional 6.0-liter W12 engine with 420 horsepower. The Phaeton had a base price of $83,000 when new, but now both V8 and W12 models can be purchased for a fraction of that. Since Phaetons were very rare, there aren't that many used models for sale. However, you can find a good V8 model for less than $15,000. You can even find a W12 model for under $20,000. For less than the price of a nicely equipped Jetta, you can have Volkswagen's ultimate masterpiece. The Phaeton was even better than the Audi A8 and Bentley Continental, which it shared a platform and engines with. How so?
Basically, you are buying a Bentley for less than $20,000! Unfortunately, this may not be the smartest thing to do because the Phaeton is basically a Bentley underneath; parts and labor are incredibly expensive. However, if you can stomach expensive repair bills, you could be driving one of the most over-engineered cars ever made. Even the trunk hinges were made from machined aluminum. What other sub-$20,000 car comes with a dehumidifier that prevents the windows from ever fogging? Also, delimited, a W12 Phaeton was able to hit 201 mph, silently! What other car can boast such impressive performance for this money? A Fiesta ST? Nothing! It may be a big risk, but the Phaeton might be worth a look.
If you've forgotten how good this car was, this Fifth Gear team test will show what we missed when Volkswagen stopped selling the Phaeton in the US.