The Volkswagen Phaeton (pronounced "fay-ton") is a large luxury sedan manufactured by Volkswagen. It currently serves as the flagship of the Volkswagen line-up, competing with other high-end flagship sedans such as the BMW 7-Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It takes its name from PhaÃ«ton, the son of Helios in Greek mythology.
The Phaeton was the brainchild of VW chairman Ferdinand PiÃ«ch, who perceived the addition of such a flagship as a means to burnish the VW brand. In doing so, the Phaeton is swimming against the logic of having a 'mainstream' brand (VW/Nissan/Toyota/Ford/Chevrolet/Honda) and a luxury brand (Audi/Infiniti/Lexus/Lincoln/Cadillac/Acura) that share components under the skin, but don't directly compete. In that respect, it is very simlar to (but not as prestigious and exclusive as) the Toyota Century.
The Phaeton's platform is shared with the Audi A8, Bentley Continental GT, and Bentley Continental Flying Spur. These similarities become apparent when looking at the Phaeton's leather lined interior which shares certain design elements with its luxury and ultra-luxury cousins.
As of 2005, the Phaeton has the longest wheelbase in the Passenger Volkswagen model line. In Dresden, Germany, the car is hand-assembled in a distinctive factory with a glass exterior, the GlÃ¤serne Manufaktur.
The Standard Wheelbase version measures
The Long Wheelbase version measures
The Phaeton has not sold well since entering the United States in 2004. 1,433 Phaetons were sold in 2004 after Volkswagen responded to initial sales by offering a US$10,000 buyer incentive. Just 820 were sold in the United States in all of 2005, leading the company to announce that sales in the American market would end after the 2006 model year. Customers have been slow to accept a luxury Volkswagen, perhaps due to their historical perception of Volkswagen as being an "economy" marque. The British motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson summed up the Phaeton's commercial failure by pondering "To what question is the answer a Â£68,000 Volkswagen?".
The Phaeton is priced at $66,700 for the V8 version, including a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax. The Phaeton W12 is priced at $96,700, including a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax.