What is it?
The Volkswagen Phaeton is an uber-saloon that looks too much like a swollen Passat to convince most people, and its heavy steel body gives it cumbersome dynamics. The only place to enjoy it is from the back seat.
Air suspension with four-stage adjustable damping doesn't tackle nuggety surfaces or abrupt undulations as well as expected but, left in mid-position, proves a competent all-rounder. Levels of grip are high, though, and it can be leaned through corners quite quickly despite its bulk.
Just one engine here, a three-litre TDI, with 230bhp. It's powerful with lots of urge.
On the inside
The Phaeton is a good place to be, thanks to superb seats, a brilliant climate control system, fine noise isolation and a generally good ride. There's masses of room in the standard car and acres in the LWB version. Watch out for versions on too-big wheels though, as they cause a bit of thumping from below.
If you were to set off a large nuclear device inside the Volkswagen Phaeton, the large nuclear device would probably come off worse. The interior is solidly built using the finest leather and wood Volkswagen could find. All the buttons and switches have a fabulous damped action and there's thankfully, nothing recognisable from the Polo. The engines and running gear are extremely strong and should be still ticking over when you've gone to the knacker's yard.
The interior is huge with plenty of space front and rear for heads, knees and shoulders. The boot is similarly huge at 500 litres, with excellent access to make it easier loading your employer's suitcases and golf clubs. The long wheel base version gives an extra 120mm additional rear legroom.
The most expensive car in the world to run (well, possibly). Servicing is expensive, the fuel economy isn't great and the company car tax brackets are the highest. Worse than that, though, is the depreciation. The car will lose huge amounts in the first year.