Ultimate pleasure: The Volkswagen Phaeton

Thursday September 6 2018

Standard safety equipment: Front airbags;

Standard safety equipment: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; ABS; traction control; electronic park assist and tire-pressure monitoring system. 

By Mustafa Ziraba

Whatever Volkswagen did or does to get to the position of dominance in the European and indeed top percentile in the global auto industry has clearly been working. But some of its decisions still leave many car fans scratching their heads. The Phaeton is one such four-wheeled decision.
A Volkswagen sedan that shares its platform with the Bentley Continental, the Phaeton offers the space, luxury and meticulous engineering standards you would expect of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series, in a package decidedly bearing the badge stereotype that goes with it.

The Phaeton is the German automaker’s flagship sedan, first introduced 2003. The Phaeton is assembled at Volkswagen’s “transparent” factory located in Dresden, Germany. Instead of being a dark and dirty manufacturing plant, the transparent factory is built largely of glass windows and walls with wood floors, without a smoke stack in sight. The very non-traditional atmosphere seems only fitting for this very non-traditional Volkswagen car.
It is something of an unsung hero. You will see none in Uganda, I presume. For the Phaeton it is in one way a shame but on the other hand, it makes it a bit more exclusive than its main rivals, the Mercedes Benz S-Class, the BMW 7-series, Audi A8 and Lexus LS.

Although most of the industry was left scratching its collective head when Volkswagen introduced its flagship Phaeton in the first place, Volkswagen itself is still scratching its head trying to figure out what went wrong. So would you buy one? No. When the first one came out, it stood out like a sore thumb in VW’s line up, a bigger Passat. Additionally, VW had not branded itself as a luxury marquee at the time and while the Phaeton was meant to compete with the S Class and 7 Series, at the end of the day, the price simply was just a hard sell for a VW.

More importantly though if you are to buy one, URA does not have it on their list, a little fact you should know. Second, it shall be a maintenance nightmare as most of its parts from the WV stable were either designed from scratch for the Phaeton or were shared with other cars in higher echelons. You can find this sort of luxury in the S-Class or 7 series, and if you want to understated luxury, then the Audi A8 or the Lexus LS should be your cup of tea.


It is interesting that the Volkswagen badge does not tend to register when one thinks of luxury sedans and as a result, the Volkswagen Phaeton is rather overshadowed by its competitors. This is not because it falls short of the others in any way but somewhat it is more that Volkswagen has not marketed the car as it should.

Like it’s German peers, expect the whole works from a company that owns Porsche and Bentley. The mixture of wood and leather in the interior is a measure of quality and superiority. And, although there is plenty of both in the Volkswagen Phaeton, the cabin does looks old-fashioned or should I say conservatively traditional.

However, this is far from the case as the car is loaded with electronic wizardry and entertainment systems. As an indication of just how much on-board technology there is in an average Volkswagen Phaeton, some 3.2km of wiring, depending on the added extras, of which there are many. And for what it is, the Phaeton is more car than many cars today on the road.

Volkswagen Phaeton comes packed with powerful 3.6L V6, 3598 (cc) petrol engine with a 6-speed Triptronic transmission system and disc brakes. Mileage of Volkswagen is very low as it travels only 8.5 kmpl of petrol.