The 2014 concept may not be completely dead.
It seems odd today, but Volkswagen once sold a flagship luxury sedan with the same underpinnings as a Bentley. The Volkswagen Phaeton was initially slated to get a successor, but Dieselgate changed the company's entire trajectory towards electrification, killing the project. Though it never reached production, Volkswagen went ahead and built a concept car codenamed the Phaeton D2. The forgotten Phaeton was revealed to the public for the first time earlier this month, and now guests have been given a chance to explore the luxury car in more detail.
Even though it was designed back in 2014, the design still looks like it could be sold today. Platform-wise, it shares a lot with the current Audi A8, even if the styling is more similar to the now-discontinued Volkswagen Passat.
Under the hood, VW planned to sell the D2 with five different powertrain options including two diesels (a V6 and V8), two gasoline engines (a V6 and a twin-turbocharged W12), and a plug-in hybrid with a V6. The W12 was set to be the flagship with 576 horsepower, but the PHEV was the second most powerful option with 450 hp.
"That was not an easy thing to do," said Klaus Zyciora, Head of VW Group Design, when asked about having to kill the D2 project. "It came with the diesel crisis and the move to electrification. From a strategic point, it was the right thing to do. But from my heart, with all the work the team put into this project to bring out something so cool, it was not easy. Some tears dropped. This piece was outstanding and gorgeous."
In addition to the impressive engines, the Phaeton D2 would have featured some groundbreaking technology back in 2014. Some amazing features include a camera-based anti-roll system, traffic light assist (which is now available on Audi models), wireless charging for the PHEV, and electrochromic tinting rear windows. The D2's rear seats were particularly luxurious, with a packed center console splitting the two passengers. It features many luxury elements you'd expect from a BMW or Mercedes of today, such as pillow headrests, rear infotainment screens, massaging seats, and more.
Fortunately, VW was able to save a few details from the D2. "You can see the elements in the Touareg Vision Cockpit and the materials, bringing the quality to that model," Zyciora said. Unfortunately, we don't get the Touareg here in the US. When asked if the Phaeton may return someday as an electric vehicle, Zyciora answered, "never say never."