The epilogue of VW’s luxury sedan is sung in the VW Phaeton II article. Could it have righted its past wrongs and be a viable car or is it still cheap to buy and expensive to maintain?

It’s 40 degrees outside so I won’t talk much about the VW Phaeton II. I will say this, it is a reliable car, much more reliable than its predecessor. It also costs the same as other cars in its class so it’s not such a magic bargain. Goodbye Mr. Prime Minister.

Now that Ferdinand Piech is out of the picture, the engineers at VW have watered down the recipe and no longer made the VW Phaeton II an experimental space shuttle that was supposed to take you to another planet but stopped somewhere in the atmosphere after which it crashed spectacularly but instead let it effectively be a Passat on steroids. They cut back on the standard equipment and shoved it into optional extras, brought back the Passat CC design line, brought in a Phaeton-exclusive steering wheel, and refined the 3.0 V6 diesel engine that was the main engine sold in Europe and stuck with V8 and W12 petrol engines for the Americans. And that created an issue – the VW Phaeton II is a reliable car so it no longer makes sense for it to cost as much as a night’s stay at the seaside here. The 2011 VW Phaeton II costs about the same as a 2011 7 Series or S Class. And then comes the question – why buy a Phaeton that’s essentially a massive facelift of the first generation, and pass on the Audi A8, Mercedes S Class, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS, or Dacia Lodgy?


VW Phaeton II Engines


  • 3.6 FSI of 280 horsepower  – I’m trying to make more sense of this engine in the VW Phaeton II than people are trying to make sense of Splash! Stars at water!. And just like Splash! Stars in the Water! I tell them this 3.6 FSI is very good and it’s decently reliable.
  • 4.2 V8 of 335 horsepower – Reserved for Americans, we have the same 4.2 FSI from the Audi S4 and the same maintenance disaster. Runs, yes. But at what cost? It’s cheaper to go with the W12 cylinders behemoth.
  • 6.0 W12 of 450 horsepower – Saved for American VW enthusiasts (is there such a thing???) is the legendary 6.0 W12 that debuted in 2003 in the first Phaeton and would be the party piece of the Bentley Flying Spur and Bentley Continental GT. Aside from an appetite for spark plugs, this engine really has no specific issues.


3.0 V6 TDI with 240 and 245 horsepower – The VW Phaeton’s pièce de résistance is the village bicycle for the VW group’s posher cars. If you don’t drive it around town too much you won’t have the classic particle filter issue, but instead you need to keep an eye on the automatic transmission and stick to its maintenance regime. Oh yes, and being a V6 engine the timing kit replacement will cost you anywhere between 1300 and 2000 euros.


VW Phaeton II General Issues

  • Some models have had paint issues, especially in the door area so it’s good to check.
  • The VW Phaeton II doesn’t believe in health and weight loss and still weighs as much as a Range Rover or a DAC 444T. That means the car has a particular appetite for tires and brakes and even fuel, the only exception being the 3-liter diesel but don’t imagine that’s any VW Fox 1.4 TDI.
  • It’s a complex car with lots of systems so many mechanics will avoid you because they either don’t have the appetite, the knowledge or the tools.
  • Just like the first Phaeton, the car comes with two batteries and if one is flat it doesn’t necessarily mean that the car will start on the power left in the other.


VW Phaeton II Verdict

It’s no longer the experiment that was the first generation but it still remains a discreet limo for those who don’t want to be recognized. There are people who have money and who have power but want to be discreet. For them, there was until recently the Audi A8 which was just a bigger A6 which was just a bigger A4. So VW Phaeton II remains the best choice for you especially if you want something for comfort. A Phaeton 3.0 V6 TDI remains one of the most discreet and comfortable cars on the market, but it’s also one of the most non-sporty cars on the market. Is it worth it?


Which engines do you recommend? It almost doesn’t matter about the tax, the 450-horsepower 6.0 W12 for gasoline is the choice, although the most European and appropriate engine for the VW Phaeton II’s soft character is the 245-horsepower 3.0 TDI V6 diesel.