In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Phaeton (2010-2015) review

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

Overall Auto Express Rating

2.0 out of 5

  • Hugely comfortable, masses of space, good diesel engine
  • Lags behind rivals, bland styling, expensive

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. 

Engines, performance and drive

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.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

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.

Interior, design and technology

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.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

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.

Reliability and Safety

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.


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