Volkswagen Phaeton

The Essentials

  • Price from £52,180
  • What Car? says: 2 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 32.2mpg
  • What is it? VW's attempt at making a limo


  • Five-star furnishings for that first-class travel feel
  • Suite-like space for you and your crew
  • Most powerful engine is extremely quick and almost silent


  • Resale values are shocking, hopefully you're rich enough not to care
  • Too many fiddly controls on the dash
  • Most powerful engine is extremely thirsty
  • Drive

    Superbly comfortable thanks to air-sprung suspension and oh-so-quiet on the move

  • Inside

    Dazzling number of buttons and gadgets set in luxurious wood and leather surroundings

  • Safety

    Airbags all-round in case you crash, plus driver aids to help prevent that happening

  • Reliability

    We've not heard of any problems, and VW badge should count in its favour

  • Space

    It's enormous so you and your entourage can stretch out and the boot is carvernous

  • Standard and extras

    Very little doesn't come as standard; from four-zone climate control to sat-nav and rain-sensitive wipers

  • What's it like to drive?

    If you're high-powered and in a hurry, your best bet in the Volkswagen Phaeton range is the 6.0-litre W12 petrol engine. For a less rapid getaway, and less painful fuel bills we prefer the 3.0-litre diesel. Adjustable suspension means you won't spill your champagne even when being driven over bumpy roads.

  • What's it like inside?

    Double glazed windows keep most noises out of the Phaeton and there will be little to disturb any international phone calls. Acres of leather upholstery and wood trip guarantee a feeling of quality, and it's beautifully put together. There's enough seat and steering adjustment for the driver to get comfortable and enough gadgets to distract even the most inquisitive teenager. Rear passengers can really stretch out, and there's a vast boot for the Louis Vuitton cases, too.

  • How reliable is it?

    Airbags all-round in case you crash, plus driver aids to help prevent that happening.

  • Should I buy one?

    It's very expensive to service, and the W12 engine is thirsty. Although it's a lavish luxury car, resale values are weak compared with a Mercedes S-Class: the VW badge hasn't quite got the same prestige. At least you won't need to go crazy with the extra options, sat-nav, leather, four-zone climate control and air-sprung suspension are standard.