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  Upper-class car in a modern dimension!

Volkswagen Phaeton 3.2-liter V-6
1-12-2002 - by Jack Irons of VW
Volkswagen will soon enter the U.S. luxury-car market with a brand-new model. Promoted by the German automaker as “an upper-class car in a modern dimension,” the luxury sedan made its world debut at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show. The Phaeton is already on sale in Europe, and full details on the European production version were issued during the Paris Motor Show in September 2002.

Until now, the Phaeton had been seen strictly in concept form. Although sister company Audi has a full line of vehicles on the market, Volkswagen steered clear of the luxury end of the spectrum prior to the Phaeton’s debut. The prospect of a production version of a large luxury sedan from Volkswagen had been tossed around for some time by industry observers.

 “Through the selection of materials and the way they are worked, the textures and the accentuated design, we have achieved a new balance between progressive and luxurious flair,” said Hartmut Warkuss, head designer at Volkswagen AG. For European consumption, Volkswagen offers a variety of engines. The Phaeton may be equipped with a 3.2-liter V-6 or a 6.0-liter W-12, which is a 12-cylinder power plant configured in a double V shape. A 313-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-10 diesel engine will be available at a later date.

The availability of the V-10 or W-12 engines for the Phaeton is not expected when it reaches the United States. The sedan is produced at a new factory in Dresden, Germany.

According to the German automaker, the appearance of the Phaeton “continues the clear and precise Volkswagen design line.” Arrow-shaped contours on the hood blend with a low-swept chromed grille and striking headlights to yield what’s called “a confident front design.” The automaker claims that the LED taillight clusters are instantly recognizable, even at night. The new body measures about 199 inches long overall and stands approximately 75 inches tall.

The basic body panels are made of galvanized steel, but the doors, trunk lid and hood are composed of aluminum. Among the Phaeton’s special features is a new four-system pneumatic (air-operated) suspension that operates seamlessly among four levels of firmness. Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD) will be standard on selected models. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights incorporate a new washer system. A new “coming home” function uses the headlights, taillights and two additional lights in the outside mirrors to illuminate the surrounding area around the car.

Designers say the Phaeton’s interior will be technologically advanced but not cluttered with controls. The automaker says a new 4-Zone Climatronic air conditioning system is absolutely free of drafts. The system supplies airflow indirectly to defined zones within the interior via vents that open and close automatically. A standard infotainment center with a 7-inch display screen can function with a CD changer, navigation system, TV, onboard computer, telephone and the air conditioning system.

Under the Hood
For European consumption, Volkswagen plans to offer as many as five different engines, starting with a 3.2-liter V-6 that develops 241 hp and a 6.0-liter W-12 that is rated at 420 hp; both of these engines will be available in models sold in the United States. A 313-hp, 5.0-liter V-10 TDI diesel engine that teams with a new six-speed-automatic transmission will be offered later. A six-speed-manual gearbox is standard with the V-6 engine, and a five-speed-automatic transmission is optional. The five-speed comes standard in the W-12-equipped Phaeton. Volkswagen’s 4Motion AWD system is standard with the W-12 and V-10 TDI engines.

When it goes on sale in the United States, the Phaeton will have side curtain-type airbags and side-impact airbags for the front and rear seats.

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