They report the Stefan Sielaff is to become the new head of design at Bentley and that Scania is to test electrically powered trucks in real-life conditions. The UK car industry’s trade body the SMMT reported that 31 Phaetons had been registered in 2014, which if anything means they are rather exclusive. Autocar’s Steve Cropley posted a rueful blog on the topic, noting how Ferdinand Piëch summoned journalists to Finland to compare the four-wheel drive Phaeton with the Mercedes S-class and BMW 7 series. The rear wheel drive cars didn’t cope so well in the icy conditions but the journalists refused to agree with Piech that the Phaeton was a serious competitor for the established players.
Cropley’s view of the car is not very consistant because he also describes the Phaeton as a 24 carat sophisticate. Adding to the confusion is the fact that while the Phaeton was a meticulously assembled car (with dangerously bright rear brake lamps) it enjoys a terrible reputation as a used-car. New, it took laurels: American websites are particullarly scathing about the vehicle. Car and Driver called it “sumptuous and silent, swift and serene” in 2002 and were impressed by its credibility. The public’s view at websites like the Truth About Cars are scathing, calling into question its reliability and the astronomical cost of repairs.
The AA‘s view indicates it’s a fine car with an astonishing interior and impressive engines but which carries a badge which no-one expects at the price VW asked for the car. It would seem to me that the Phaeton belongs in that large list of impressive cars that failed to make a dent in the frozen-mass of opinion that is the car buying world. Fiat 130, Lancia Thesis, Peugeot 604, Citroen C6 and Alfa Romeo 166 and VW Phaeton. No, it doesn’t belong in that list, does it? It seems to be a class two notches above. Yet what it has in common is that it didn’t sell despite quantitative and qualitative merits.