Volkswagen Phaeton review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The VW Phaeton offers the comfort and refinement of a luxury limousine, although it is expensive to buy

For: 
Hugely comfortable, masses of space, good diesel engine
Against: 
Lags behind rivals, bland styling, expensive

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On its last update, the Volkswagen Phaeton received a few cabin tweaks and some subtle visual changes. It was introduced as the ultimate vehicle for luxury, and in some ways it succeeds. It is extremely comfortable, refined and – in long wheelbase form – hugely spacious. But the driving experience feels years behind the true masters of this class, such as the Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class. 

Our choice: V6 TDI

Styling

3.6

Updates to the Phaeton since its launch have concentrated on keeping it looking fresh, but there's no doubting that this car is beginning to look dated. The most recent changes included a more pronounced grille and sharper headlights that now incorporate LED daytime running lamps.

Driving

3.3

There's no need to make any confusing decisions on which engine should power your Phaeton, as Volkswagen offers just one choice – a 237bhp 3.0-litre TDI V6. Acceleration is brisk enough, with the sprint from 0-62mph taking 8.3 seconds. This is a car tuned for comfort first and foremost, and with air-suspension fitted as standard it does excel in this respect. Take it round a corner though and you'll be reminded what a heavy car this is, as there's plenty of body roll evident.

Reliability

3.9

Curtain, side, driver and passenger airbags are all included along with electronic safety systems like ABS and ESP. That means that while it hasn't actually been rated by Euro NCAP it's likely to achieve a five star rating. Reliability has so far proved to be good, with only a few owners complaining of minor electronic glitches that can be easily fixed.

Practicality

3.8

Boot space is competitive for this segment, with 500 litres on offer. That's exactly the same figure found in the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series. Long wheelbase versions provide a huge amount of legroom for the ultimate in luxury, but short wheelbase models are by no means cramped. The cabin is luxurious and comfortable, with huge amounts of space in the rear - especially in long wheelbase form. On the move, the cabin is so well insulated that you only occasionally hear a bit of engine noise, while wind noise is almost non-existent. Standard kit includes 18-way adjustable massage seats, four-zone climate control and sat-nav with Google Maps.

Running Costs

2.9

Fuel consumption for the sole engine choice stands at 32.2mpg combined, while CO2 emissions are 224g/km. The latter figure means road tax will be costly. Being a Volkswagen though, servicing and repair costs are both likely to stay low. Depreciation will turn out to be the killer in this case.

Disqus - noscript

"It was introduced as the ultimate vehicle for luxury," does not sit al all with an urbane 3 seat rear. 3 adults in the rear would not be in anything like comfort and luxury. It has a huge transmission tunnel. Even with 2 up in the rear, they are sitting in compromised seats. Compromised to accommodate a 3rd seat. It may be a halo car, but it will never be VW's crowning glory. There seems with the engine to be one turbo short of a nice drive.....this will be a heavy car, and 237bhp is hardly adequate, let alone exciting. I love VW, and VAG, but this doesnt endear me. They make the car, [successfully] this will never be, elsewhere in the empire.

Last updated: 5 May, 2012
Issue 1346
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