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Posted: 12/30/2003 12:04:21 PM EDT
Umm, if I wanted to waste THAT amount of cash on a car I'd go with a Mercedes, Cadillac, Lexus, Infiniti.....  CORVETTE.....




Phaeton drives Volkswagen upmarket

$64,000 VW for the well-to-do who don't want to flaunt it.
December 30, 2003: 11:30 AM EST
By Jim Mateja, Contributing Columnist

CHICAGO (Tribune Media) - Some things Dad insisted be held sacred.

Mustard on a hot dog.

Sausage on a pizza.

Standing, hand on heart, when the band strikes up the "Beer Barrel Polka."

And never pay more than $3,000 for a Volkswagen.

2004 VW Phaeton V-8  
• Base price: $64,600  

• Engine: 4.2-liter, 335-hp V-8  

• Transmission: 6-speed automatic  

• Fuel economy: 15 mpg city/22 mpg hwy  

Good thing Dad never saw the `04 VW Phaeton, a $64,000 sedan from the same company that sells the $16,000 to $25,000 Beetle.

It's like Target selling Tiffany.

To justify $64,000, Phaeton features lots of electronic innovation. Not as mind-boggling as the BMW iDrive system, but sufficiently sophisticated that Phaeton should carry a warning: "Some assembly required" or "Batteries not included."

The two versions of the most expensive VW ever produced start at $64,600 for the 8-cylinder model and $84,899 -- $79,900 plus $4,999 in required options -- for the Premier Edition 12-cylinder model. Its rivals are the BMW 760Li at $116,495 and the Mercedes-Benz S600 at $122,820.

Who'd pay $64,000 for a VW?

In October, its first month on the market, 82 folks handed over a check while 118 more bought one in November. None asked for 72-month financing or a cash rebate. VW expects to sell only 3,000 yearly (330 with the 12-cylinder), but it will take about 250 folks driving Phaetons out of VW showrooms each month to reach that goal.

Phaeton isn't the only luxury car VW has in mind. It is considering an offering somewhere between a $40,000 fully equipped Passat sedan and the $64,000 Phaeton.

VW is trying to be all things to all people. That's tough to pull off when economy and luxury buyers are asked to visit the same showroom; economy buyers are intimidated and luxury buyers are infuriated to have to mingle with commoners.

But VW spokesman Tony Fouladpour insists there was a good case for a luxury VW.

"It will elevate the VW brand image," he said.

Equally important, "there was a segment of VW owners who wanted to move upscale, but we had nothing to offer," he said, noting that those folks moved into BMW or Mercedes instead.

You could argue that VW could move them into luxury sedans from its Audi division, but VW counters that to foster a more upscale image, the vehicle must carry a VW badge.

"Phaeton is for people who have wealth but don't want to show it, who want a German luxury sedan without the pretense of the namebadge," Fouladpour said, an obvious reference to BMW and Mercedes, not Audi.

"It will be a challenge for us and take time to attract a lot of customers. We'll have to earn our way into this (luxury) market," he said.

Phaeton elevates the performance you expect from a car carrying the VW name. It comes with either a 4.2-liter, 355-horsepower V-8 or 6-liter, 420-h.p. 12-cylinder. The test vehicle came with the V-8.

Tap the pedal and go. No hesitation. The V-8 quickly springs to life. A luxury car with an attitude.

Unfortunately, the V-8 Phaeton will pass everything on the road except a filling station. The 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway rating earns it a $1,334 gas-guzzler tax. At 12/19, the 12-cylinder is tagged with a $3,000 guzzler tax.

It's nice to boast about quickness and the ability to move swiftly in a straight line, but it's far better when the package is complete and the car delivers nimble handling while maintaining stability and control when the line twists and bends. Phaeton passes that test.

It comes with 4Motion full-time all-wheel-drive as standard, which we found ensures the 18-inch all-season radials grip the pavement whether straight or twisting, dry or dusted with snow.

A very sure-footed machine thanks to not only AWD but also to the standard electronic stability control as well as the air suspension with electronic damping control to adapt suspension settings to all driving conditions. In other words, comfortable, no-hassle ride and very precise handling with no surprises.

But its performance character is nearly overshadowed by all the gadgets.
Not just power seats, but 18-way power driver/16-way power passenger seats that heat, cool or massage the occupants (though, if you touch the massage button by accident, the sensation of something in the seat running up and down your spine is more than a tad unnerving); not just climate control, but also humidity sensors; not just a trunk lid, but an automatic opening/closing lid at the touch of the key fob; not just spacious limo-like rear seats, but rear seats with enough room for foot rests.

Turn a dial and the outside mirrors fold flat to prevent damage in a car wash.

Link Posted: 12/30/2003 12:05:17 PM EDT

Press a button and the rear window sunshade raises or lowers (side rear windows require manual shade operation. Hey, it's only a $64,000 car).

Press another button and the bottoms of the dual cupholders rise flush with the top of the center console. Why? Who knows, but it takes your mind off the fact something is running up and down your spine that you hope doesn't have four legs and a furry coat.

Other novel touches include air vents hidden behind chestnut wood trim that automatically lifts to expose the vents when you turn on heat or air.

And the center armrest that pulls down from the rear seat houses a pair of cupholders and a first-aid kit. Some luxury cars hide the kit in the trunk. Having it in the cabin is much wiser.

But there are a couple of annoyances.

Rear-seat headrests stay down until someone sits on the seat, at which time they rise to protect the occupant. In doing so, however, the headrests, which are taller and wider than a head, block a good portion of the driver's view out the back window.

And the power window controls are too far forward on the driver's armrest. Unless you have the wingspan of a Chicago Bull, you have to lean forward to reach the button. Why make cupholders rise, but power window buttons disappear?

One gripe is personal. Styling. Nothing distinguishing. If VW wanted to design a luxury sedan "for people who have wealth but don't want to show it," mission accomplished.
In addition to the items noted, you get dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, power windows with pinch protection to stop when contacting such things as a wayward hand, leather seats, tilt/telescoping steering column, front- and side-impact air bags and front-to-rear side-impact air curtains and OnStar emergency communication provided by General Motors.

There's also four-wheel anti-lock brakes; heated windshield-washer nozzles; oversized power sunroof with shade; glovebox-mounted, six-disc CD changer; and a navigation system with a 7-inch screen in the dash.

If you want rear-seat occupants to enjoy the same heated/cooled/massaging seats as those upfront, the comfort and cold weather package adds them for $2,900.

Price as tested: $71,284. Includes $2,900 for comfort and cold-weather package with heated and air-conditioned rear seats with massage feature, lumbar support, power head restraints and rear climate control display; $1,150 for technology package with electronic parking assist and power-opening trunk lid; $1,000 for 270-watt sound system upgrade; $300 for chestnut interior wood trim; and $1,334 for gas-guzzler tax. Add $615 for freight.

Pluses: A potent V-8. All-wheel-drive and stability control to ensure stick-to-the-road grip for precise handling. Novel features, such as air conditioned/heated/massaging seats. An upscale VW for those demanding an upscale VW.

Minuses: Styling. Mileage. Guzzler tax. Location of power-window controls. Rear head rests block vision. Accepting $64,600 for a VW.
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 12:10:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/30/2003 12:11:05 PM EDT by DK-Prof]

here it is:


Yup - sure looks boring
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 12:10:09 PM EDT
They also sell a V12 engine option.  I bet that adds a few bucks.
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 12:10:46 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 12:13:15 PM EDT
Ah yes, a $64,000 "People's Car". [;)]
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 12:14:58 PM EDT
For people who want luxury but not a status symbol? VW's reasoning doesn't make any sense to me.
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 12:27:34 PM EDT
Originally Posted By raven:
For people who want luxury but not a status symbol? VW's reasoning doesn't make any sense to me.
View Quote
It's the $64,000 answer to a question nobody asked.
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 12:35:28 PM EDT
It's Howard Dean's car! For the park ave silver spoon baby who wants to look hip and middle class without living middle class!
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 12:42:35 PM EDT
For people who want luxury but not a status symbol?
View Quote

I know quite a few people that buy Buick LeSabres for $35,700 with all the options just because they're subdued, but they still want something nice.  There is a market for nice, but not flashy.  It might not be in the 25-35 year range for most of the people here, but for the 65+ crowd, it might sell.  Even $35k mediocre LeSabres sell pretty well.  The biggest negative I see isn't the price.  It's that it's from a German company, and most of my friends won't buy anything German.z
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 1:19:33 PM EDT
They are going after the 5 and 7 series BMW market.
[b] Marketing mantra[/b]
If you dont crash every now and then how do you know how fast you can go ?

VW could have a winner or they could just be making a car they will have to drop the price on in a couple of years and then sell the volume they need.

I spoke with a women the other day at the gas pumps about her new passat, she was filling up.
I asked her how she liked it ? She said she loved it! She has had it 8 months and traded in a BMW 5 series and has no regrets. She did say twice it was the top of the line all wheel drive model. She said she was very happy with it compared to her BMW. I told her my wife was looking at one so she gave me her card and said to have the wife call he and she would give her the price and salesman she used. It turns out she is a partner in a decent size law firm so I dont think she cares too much about saving a few dollars.
I am just repeating what she said.

Dont forget Porsche and VW are closer than shit and stink. If you dont think they could build a car to match ANY OTHER AUTO maker out there you dont know what your talking about.

I will wait and see what the used market on these are in a couple of years.
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 1:34:33 PM EDT
Originally Posted By zoom:
it's from a German company, and most of my friends won't buy anything German.z
View Quote

You have strange friends.
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 1:35:09 PM EDT
I wouldnt pay $0.64 for a volkswagen...

... actually I would...cheaper than paper targets and more fun to shoot. I hate VW.

Had one...NEVER own one again.
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 1:51:55 PM EDT
Similar to the very nice Audi A8L....

Remember Audi and VW are kissing cousins now.

I'd be willing to bet the Phaeton is a very nice luxo-cruiser -- I remember when people snickered at the Lexus LS400 and thought it would flop.

Somebody told me Toyota, and Lexus by extension, should stick to making Camrys....shows how much he knew.

Link Posted: 12/30/2003 8:47:51 PM EDT
Would be very low on my choice of cars.
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 8:59:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/30/2003 9:00:31 PM EDT by sniper1az]
Saw 10 or 12 of them on the streets of Phoenix. EVERYONE tests cars out here. They all have manufactures plates, no id markings and lots of antennas stuck on them. Insides stuffed with electronic gear stacked up on the rear seats. They travel in packs of 4 to 6 most of the time. There are caravans of strange looking Jaguars all over town! Lots of Volvos and wierd Toyotas as well!
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 9:02:53 PM EDT
Originally Posted By DoubleFeed:
Originally Posted By raven:
For people who want luxury but not a status symbol? VW's reasoning doesn't make any sense to me.
View Quote
It's the $64,000 answer to a question nobody asked.
View Quote

Whoa, that was clever.
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