The only engine available in the Phaeton is a 236bhp 3.0 V6 TDI diesel unit. It offers a good mix of power, performance and low running costs, and comes with four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission as standard.
Air-sprung suspension is adjustable for both firmness and ride height. This does a great job of keeping the car level over rutted streets. Body control is excellent, but the speed-sensitive steering is short of feel. Surface imperfections are dealt with competently.
Criticising the Phaeton here is just nit-picking. Mostly, it's very quiet, although the diesel engine can be a little noisy when you're pressing on. Despite double-glazing, a small amount of wind noise penetrates, but it’s only noticeable because the engine and tyres are so hushed.
The Phaeton is expensive to service and when the time comes to sell it, the VW badge will ensure the Phaeton retains less of its value than a Mercedes S-Class after three years. As a company car, all models fall into the top tax band.
Inside, little is left to the imagination. Bedecked in a herd’s worth of leather and forests of wood, displaying a vast array of dials and digital displays, the Phaeton reeks of quality and delivers a real sense of occasion. Build quality is second to none, and, being a VW, very little should go wrong.
Twin front and side airbags are joined by full-length curtain airbags mounted above the doors. Side impact protection is further enhanced for rear passengers by side airbags. Hugely powerful brakes and five types of electronic driver’s aids are on hand to rein in the Phaeton should things start to get out of hand.
Electric adjustability of the sumptuous seats and steering wheel means all manner of shapes and sizes can dial in the perfect driving position. All Phaetons come with automatic ’boxes and changes are seamless even when pushing on. The sheer number of gadgets can be distracting.
The Phaeton has an enormous cabin and loads of luggage space; rear-seat passengers are particularly well-accommodated. There are standard (5055mm-long) and long-wheelbase (5175mm) models, but even the shorter model is hugely roomy.
There are over 100 different buttons and switches to control an immense amount of electrical functions. It would be easier to say what is not standard, but notable attractions include the four-zone climate control, sat-nav, full leather upholstery, rain-sensitive wipers and air-sprung suspension.
Order a brochure, find your nearest dealer or book a test drive
Outstanding quality and comfort coupled to real-world economy from the diesel engine, but the Phaeton is not as sharp to drive as the Mercedes S-Class.