Volkswagen Phaeton Saloon 2003 - 2010

Volkswagen Phaeton Saloon 2003 - 2010

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • It is a great, comfortable long-distance cruiser
  • There is plenty of space inside
  • Superb diesel engines
  • An extremely reliable vehicle


  • The steering feels light
  • Lacks some of the image of other luxury cars


The Phaeton Saloon is Volkswagen’s first attempt at building a true luxury vehicle and they have definitely beaten all expectations. Admittedly, it lacks the image and presence of some of its rivals, such as the BMW 7-Series and Audi A8, but inside you’ll be challenged to find another car that is this comfortable, with as much space and such a high level of equipment as standard. The ride is extremely smooth, refined and comfortable, too, making the Phaeton an excellent long distance cruiser even if the ride isn’t as sporty as Audi’s. It also comes with an excellent range of engines with the TDI units being impressively powerful and economical.

Exterior and Interior

If the Phaeton was aimed at competing with the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-Class its design seems rather anonymous and is far from being prominent. However, if you are looking to travel in luxury and comfort, but not stand out from the crowd, then the Phaeton should suit your needs perfectly. Inside there is plenty of space for all the passengers, especially in the back where the passengers receive ample head and legroom. It comes as a long-wheelbase model too which increases the space inside even further, to the point where the back seat passengers are able to stretch their legs out. If you’re after even more room then there is also the option of having a four-seater option instead of the standard five-seater. Either way you’re going to be seated in comfort with all of the seats being extremely supportive and comfortable. The boot is huge with more than enough space to accommodate all five passengers’ luggage easily. With the boot lip being fairly low, it makes loading the heavier suitcases easier. There are also plenty of adjustments in the driver’s seat and steering column enabling you to find the perfect driving position. There is a mind boggling array of buttons scattered throughout the cabin, which can be confusing especially when driving, but that is the only slight niggle you’ll have with it. There’s only one trim level available so you get plenty of kit as standard such as a CD multichanger, climate control for both the front and back, heated seats, cruise control, headlight washers and electric windows. There are a few extra optional luxuries on offer such as sat-nav, DVD, an electric sunroof, parking sensors and a service indicator.

Performance and Economy

The entry level 3.2-litre V6 petrol is an extremely smooth engine and more than powerful for the car going from 0-60mph in 8.9 seconds. It’s also the most economical of the petrol engines achieving 23mpg. The 4.2-litre V8 comes with plenty of low down pull and is very quick reaching 60mph in just 6.7 seconds, whilst returning 21mpg. The top of the range 6.0-litre W12 engine is blisteringly quick for such a large car. If you’re going to go for this engine opt for the more powerful unit that was introduced in 2005, with the overall power upped to 450bhp. It goes from a standing start to 60mph in just 5.9 seconds, however, the fuel economy does suffer achieving just 19mpg and that’s the official figure. The diesel units start with the 3.0-litre V6 TDI. The original engine was replaced in 2010 by a 240bhp unit, which is top pick as it offers a great blend of pace and fuel economy going from 0-60mph in 8 seconds flat, whilst still returning 32mpg. The older unit isn’t bad either being only half a second slower and slightly less economical. The 5.0-litre V10 TDI is immensely powerful, offering loads of power, accelerating to 60mph in just 6.7 seconds, which is identical to the 4.2 V8 petrol. It’s more economical though, if not by much, achieving 24mpg. Its engines may not be as frugal as some of its rivals but when it comes to insuring them, the Phaeton comes out the cheapest with the majority of the engines falling into group 16.

Like to Drive

The Phaeton may not be as exciting to drive as the Mercedes S-Class or the Audi A8. Its immense weight and size holds it back especially on country lanes. However, the Phaeton has been built for comfort, refinement and smoothness rather than a sporting drive and as such, it makes a superb cruising car soaking up both the miles and bumps effortlessly. The Car isn’t that hard to handle around town either despite its size. The gearbox and suspension settings can be adjusted to try and give a slightly sportier feel to the drive.

Faults and Repairs

The Phaeton is an extremely reliable vehicle with very few problems cropping up over the years. There were a few minor problems when the car was first released, but all of these were smoothed out in later models. Overall it is a superbly built and reliable vehicle. Service costs are pleasing, too, being cheaper than its rivals BMW, Mercedes and Audi.