Home > News > Beijing Auto Show Coverage: Volkswagen finally releases details and pictures of their brand new Phaeton limousine

Beijing Auto Show Coverage: Volkswagen finally releases details and pictures of their brand new Phaeton limousine

The understated limousine that was the brainchild of then chairman of the VW Group, Ferdinand Piëch, has finally seen a freshen up for the year 2010!

So it’s really not a full replacement model but rather a facelift. But unlike other lame attempts at these facelifts, the limo actually gets quite a bit of kit added to it both inside and out.

Come to think about it, we’re lucky there’s a handful of people in Singapore who were brave enough to break away from the pack and invest their money in something understated. Something not a ‘at-least-three-at-any-traffic-light’ Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series.

The four-wheel driven Phaeton’s still made at VW’s Transparent Factory in Dresden and has been given similar contours to the German brand’s current line, the design DNA supplied by one of the most outstanding designers in the last 10 years I’d say, Walter de Silva, the group’s Italian chief designer. He was the same man who designed the Audi A5 range and called it his best work yet.

At the same time, new technical features have been added.

These include Dynamic Light Assist (camera-based dynamic main beam regulation) and a navigation system that, if desired, can integrate online data from Google into the map display. In addition to this, the Phaeton’s optional front camera enables it to ‘see’ road signs, with speed limit signs visuali sed on the instrument panel and centre console’s touchscreen.

The system will also be able to recognise and depict ‘no overtaking’ signs – the first in the world to do so! The Phaeton will be available with a choice of two wheelbase options, two back seat versions (three seats /two individual seats) and four engines (a turbo diesel and three petrol engines).

The six, eight and twelve-cylinder engines range in capacity from 236hp to 443hp. The standard drive unit used in the Phaeton is a V6 petrol engine producing 276hp. At the capacities above the V6 FSI the choices available are a V8 and a W12 petrol engine, de livering 330hp and 443hp respectively.

On the diesel front Volkswagen is offering an extremely frugal and smooth-running V6 TDI. In Europe it is the most frequently selected engine for this car.

Now that we’re done with the sweetest summary you’d find anywhere online…..calling all tech buffs! If you get off on an overdose of information most of us really couldn’t care less for understanding, read on!

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– unlike all other Volkswagens created to date on the basis of this new DNA, the Phaeton does not have a shiny black radiator grille cover, but instead a completely new chrome element. In detail the new grille is more upright, while its stricter lines and impressive alternation of materials between polished and matt chrome make it even more striking.

– as a sign of its class specific to this model the Phaeton also features three- dimensional moulding of the grille and bonnet, with precise edges that carry the grille’s heightened expression of quality on into the sculptured contours of the vehicle body.

– in the centre of the grille is the classic VW badge, which now – despite integrating the ACC (automatic distance control) system’s radar sensors – has a new-look surface design.

– to the left and right of the grille are new Bi-Xenon headlamps, which are standard across the range. Integrated within them are cornering and adaptive lights. Not just in visual terms, but from a technical pers pec tive too, this is a whole new generation of headlamps. Firstly, the indicator and adaptive cornering lights are highly visible and stylistically striking LEDs.  Secondly, as with the new Touareg, the Phaeton will also be available with optional Dynamic Light Assist. Using a camera integrated into the rear-view mirror, this complex technology ‘detects’ other road users and regulates illumination of the carriageway accordingly.

– the bottom final section of the bumper is now also colour-coordinated with the car body. Compared to the previous model, the new generation Phaeton looks even sportier and more imposing on the road. Also modified, the back of the car underlines this impression. The design team decided here not to change the classic, clear and powerful basic style that this area has always had, but instead to develop new LED rear light clusters. Each cluster features dotted lights and an M-shaped LED strip.

– new 18-inch (‘Experience’) alloy wheels


– in addition to the version with three rear seats (5-seater), the limousine can be optionally ordered with two electrically adjustable individual seats (4-seater). Furthermore a version of the Phaeton is also available  that is twelve centimetres longer.

– it can be almost infinitely personalised with a wide range of leather, alcantara and wood trim, plus optional equipment such as a fridge or multimedia systems from Volkswagen Exclusive. This also applies to the completely redesigned multifunction steering wheel. It can be ordered either in leather or in a wood/leather combination matching the relevant wood trim features.

Tech highlights

Use of online services: Volkswagen is for the first time offering an Internet- based Google function in the new Phaeton as a map display add-on for the RNS 810 radio navigation system with 30-gigabyte hard drive. The relevant data gets loaded onto the system over the Internet via mobile telephone and a proxy server specially set up for the purpose. The visualisation on the touchscreen’s display is the same as the Google Maps ‘Satellite’ view familiar from the conventional Internet and equiva lent to the iPhone’s ‘Hybrid’ view.

In the Phaeton the satellite images naturally get supplemented by the navigation system’s appropriate ly highlighted route recommendation. Particularly interesting in this feature are the POIs (points of interest) that can be accessed. Addresses, tourist sights, businesses, sports venues, doctors’ surgeries and restaurants integrated within Google can be selected in seconds and transferred directly into the route navigation.

Road sign recognition: By virtue of the camera integrated in the rear-view mirror the Phaeton now detects road signs and shows the relevant information on the system’s touchscreen and/or the multifunction display (between speedometer and rev counter). It displays not only the maximum permitted speed but also any important additional information (e.g. ‘10pm – 6am’ or ‘When wet’).

The system will also be able to alert drivers to overtaking restrictions – the first vehicle in the world to do so! (This would benefit Singaporeans and change the driving experience here in a major way. )

For the RNS 810 radio/navigation system further add-on options are also available. These include a rear-seat multimedia  entertainment system (the High End) and a 1,000-watt sound system with digital 12-channel amplifier from hi-fi specialists Dynaudio.
Electronic assistance systems

The Phaeton’s electronic assistance systems include Dynamic Light Assist (dynamic main beam control), ACC (automatic distance regula tion), Front Assist (surroundings monitoring) and Side Assist  (lane change assistance). A tyre pressure control system also provides standards of safety.

Dynamic Light Assist in detail: Volkswagen is introducing for the Phaeton a new optional camera-based main beam control system called Dynamic Light Assist, which represents a major technical inno va tion in passive safety. Linked in with a camera integrated behind the windscreen the system keeps the main beam modules of the standard Bi-Xenon headlamps permanently on.

It merely masks the areas of each beam that it calculates could potentially disturb other road users. For the driver this means appreciably more light, clearly enhanced safety and a more relaxing drive.

Thanks to the front camera the cornering light control system detects the exact position of the vehicle in front and at speeds of 60 km/h or more ‘pushes’ the cone of light up to the rear of the vehicle or even to its side and on past it – without dazzling the driver.

ACC and Front Assist in detail: Automatic distance regulation (ACC) relieves the driver of the burden of active braking and acceleration.

ACC significantly improves driving comfort and passive safety, especial ly on longer motorway journeys. At the same time the system (when activated) ensures adherence to the legally prescribed minimum distance from the vehicle in front. An integral component of ACC is Front Assist. This ACC extension is designed to help prevent rear-end collisions.

Using a radar sensor, the system monitors the distance to the vehicles in front of the Phaeton. If this is becoming too short, the system alerts the driver in two stages. At the same time the vehicle is prepared for possible emergency braking by the driver. Even before certain situations arise, Front Assist takes preventative action by putting the brakes into a preconditioned status that otherwise only gets activated when the brake pedal is pushed. The system thus acts as a means of reducing the car’s stopping distance.

Side Assist in detail: Another assistance system in the Phaeton is the lane change assistant (Side Assist). At speeds of 60 km/h or more this system monitors the area behind and to the side of the Phaeton via radar sensors in the rear bumper (one sensor each for the area to left and right) and indicates via a warning light in the wing mirror frame any risk of potential collision.

The area monitored by the sensors covers a distance of around 50 metres to the rear and 3.6 metres to the side of the car.

Now you can go get that cup of water.

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