The push towards EVs doomed the luxury Phaeton.
Remember the Volkswagen Phaeton? It was a flagship German luxury sedan that shared its underpinnings and powertrains with the Bentley Continental GT and Flying Spur. That recipe sounds impressive, but unsurprisingly, very few Americans wanted to shell out $60,000 to $100,000 on a luxury car with a VW badge. No wonder why the Phaeton depreciated so quickly, and used ones became of tremendous value.
VW only sold the Phaeton in the US from 2004 to 2006 but kept building it for Europe until 2016. In fact, the German automaker even planned a successor that never made it into production. 20 years after the original launch, VW is now showing off the never-before-seen second generation that could have existed in another universe. Codenamed the Phaeton D2, the project was killed off because the VW Brand Board of Management wanted a strategic realignment to focus on electric mobility. And thus, the Volkswagen ID.4 was born out of the ashes of the Phaeton.
"The car still has a very attractive appearance and beautiful proportions, and it impresses with tangible high quality and value," says Jozef Kaban, Head of Volkswagen Design. You can tell the D2 has a similar shape as the original Phaeton, with more modern headlights and taillights that aren't completely dissimilar to the recently discontinued US market Volkswagen Passat the Chinese market Phideon. This design was chosen out of four potential concepts and would have been underpinned by VW's MLB platform, which is currently used on a variety of products ranging from the Audi A4 up to the Bentley Bentayga.
Of course, the interior looks top-notch with copious amounts of wood, leather, and screens, including a curved display that later ended up in the VW Touareg. Rear occupants are treated to airplane-style seats that wouldn't look out of place in an Audi or Bentley with entertainment screens and a large center console.
The original Phaeton was available with several engine options, including two VR6 motors, a V6 diesel, a V10 diesel, a gasoline V8, and a W12 made from two V6 engines. Only the V8 and W12 were offered stateside. VW tells CarBuzz that a number of powertrain options were considered for the D2: a V6 (281 hp) or V8 diesel (401 hp), a gasoline V6 (335 hp) or plug-in hybrid V6 (450 hp), or a twin-turbo W12 (576 hp). We doubt the 'people's car' brand will ever branch out with a product like the Phaeton ever gain, but we'd love to see a modern electric version in the future.