"Phaeton". I have absolutely no clue on how to pronounce that, the only thing I know is that the name is from Greek mythology. Honestly, how a designer would have thought to use a name from Greek mythology on a car boggles my mind. Cars often use animals or numbers in their names such as the Ford Mustang or even the Lamborghini Murcielago, which comes from a famous fighting bull. I'm not saying it's a bad name, just a very interesting one.
Anyhow, moving on. The Phaeton has been Volkswagen's flagship for several years now. Each generation is getting better and better, the styling is still pretty much unchanged, although getting a lot more modern and futuristic. The original Phaeton that was released in 2002 was not a great looking car. The 2009 model was also not much of a looker either. However, this latest 2011 model is way, way better looking. Possibly even better looking than one of its rivals, the BMW 7-series.
It was first unveiled to the public at Auto China 2010 just a couple of months ago. The Phaeton offers the owner lots and lots of options such as a choice of wheelbase and four extremely different engines. These engines include three gasoline units along with one turbodiesel mill.
2011 Volkswagen PhaetonEnlarge Photo
The diesel engine is predictably the least powerful producing 240 horsepowre. There is a V-6 gasoline unit delivering 280 horsepower, a V-8 making 335 horsepower and a massive 6.0-liter W-12 engine pumping out 450 horsepower. Exact pricing for this car has yet to be released but expect prices around the $60,000 mark. I could go on about the performance figures of the Phaeton, but those are not why people buy luxurious cars like this. They buy them to either be driven around in or to use as a family car.
Sure, this is no Rolls-Royce or Maybach, but don't for a second assume that this car will have little in the way of luxury. The interior of the Phaeton is really the place to be. It features an 8-inch touchscreen, for things such as the GPS, Radio controls and controls for the air-conditioning. Possibly the coolest feature of this car is a thing called Road Sign Recognition. It uses a camera mounted to the rear-view mirror; this camera detects road signs and shows any relevant information on the touchscreen. It can show the speed limit along with other important information such as having the ability to warn drivers of overtaking restrictions, which is a world first.
There is still a market out there for cars like this, but with the struggling economy it may be wiser to steer clear and go for something a little cheaper. For now, there has been no announcement of a U.S. launch of the latest 2011 Volkswagen Phaeton.