The Phaeton Was Volkswagen’s Doomed Venture Into The Premium Class

Volkswagen literally means “the people’s car” in German, yet two decades ago it decided to roll out a luxury saloon and compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW.

The German marque previewed the Phaeton with the Concept D at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show and two years later, started churning out the production car. It was initially available with a 3.6-liter V6, a 4.2-liter V8 and a massive 6.0-liter W12. Later on in its production run, a six-cylinder diesel, as well as a V10 diesel, were added to the range.

Volkswagen was particularly proud of the Phaeton’s advanced air conditioning system, noting that the four-zone climate control could maintain a steady interior temperature of 72 degrees Farenheit (22 degrees Celsius) while driving at a constant 186 mph (300 km/h) at an ambient temperature of 122 degrees Farenheit (50 degrees Celsius) – even though the car was electronically limited to 155 mph (250 km/h).

Watch Also: Original VW Phaeton W12 Remains As Curious As Ever

The Phaeton was ultimately produced up until 2016 and while it enjoyed some success in China and Germany, it couldn’t replicate this success in the U.S. In fact, it was pulled from sale in America in 2006.

Those interested in owning a Phaeton can purchase one on the used car market, however. A look at the classifieds on Autotrader reveals that there are currently seven Phaetons for sale in the country with prices ranging from $4,995 to as much as $20,700. Of the seven for sale, three have the 330 hp V8 and four the big W12 that puts out 414 or 444 hp, depending on the model year.

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