I’ve really enjoyed being behind the wheel of every car that I’ve reviewed. However, the VW Phaeton is the first one that you enjoy equally driving or being chauffeured in. Its the most luxurious car in their line-up and you can tell that the minute you step into it- especially the back seat.
The engines available on the new VW Phaeton include the V6, V8 and W12 which range from 177 kW / 241 HP to 331 kW / 450 HP. For review, I received the V8 version which generates a maximum output of 246 kW / 335 HP and achieves a torque of 430 Newton metres at 3500 revolutions.
Looks-wise, I found the VW Phaeton to be pretty ordinary from the outside. It sadly does not give the impression of a luxury car that it is supposed to be. However step inside and you know you are in for a treat. Like any decent car, getting in and out of the car simply requires the key to be in your pocket. What I do like is that its not just the driver or front passenger side that unlocks the car but even pulling the back door will unlock the car as long as the key is with you.
Stepping inside the VW Phaeton is like stepping into luxury. On the front, you have a generous dose of wood finishing that extends on the air conditioning vents and covers them when they are not in use. The leather seats are incredibly comfortable and allow for a 12-way electrical adjustment that will make sure that you hit that sweet spot of comfort.
The steering wheel is also finished with wood and leather and has a few buttons on either side to control media, telephone and cruise controls. A vertical rocker is present on either side that allows you to navigate between these items.
The Dashboard is a lot more traditional in look compared to the Ford Edge we recently looked at. It has tons of gauges and one LCD screen in the middle that shows you information on multiple things such as mileage, media, communications and settings. To the center you have another large touch screen with buttons around it which is your center console for showing your maps, media information etc. The VW Phaeton is equipped with a reverse camera which shows up on this screen along with lines imposed on it when you are backing up.
The operation of the console is very much like the one we had looked in our VW CC review except that its an older version (RNS 810) of the software which has a few shortcomings. For example, I was unable to connect my phone through Bluetooth- I tried both the iPhone 4 as well as the BlackBerry Torch 9800. I was told by VW that Nokia works well, however, I did not have a Nokia around to test it out. Bluetooth Audio streaming is also supported, but again, since my iPhone 4 couldn’t pair with the car, I was unable to test it out.
The VW Phaeton features a (non iPod compatible) USB port as well as an SD card slot along with a 20GB internal hard drive so just because you wont be able to stream audio from your device, does not mean that you could not store it in the car. I was easily able to transfer to MP3 files from an SD card to the car’s built-in hard drive, however, a generic USB stick caused a few issues when the Phaeton tried to read it. The sound system on the Phaeton is phenomenal to say the least with music popping out of every corner. I don’t have the details on the sound system that VW has used but I’ll say that its one of the best I’ve heard. Maps also work quite nicely and I was able to locate a hotel in Muscat very easily using the DVD based navigating system.