The original VW Phaeton was not quite ready for prime time when it arrived in the U.S. market back in 2004. It was a bold effort from the German manufacturer to take on the likes of the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and Lexus LS model lines. But it failed to impress those interested in purchasing a Volkswagen Group product, even with its enticing engine offerings—a 330 hp V-8 and a 414 hp W-12. Fewer than 3,000 cars were sold in the three years it was offered here before the German automaker decided to pull the plug in 2006.
But VW never stopped production of the car for other markets, and the Phaeton continued to trudge on, with face-lifts and model refreshes helping it along the way. The most recent redesign came for the 2011 model year, which gave the car the longest wheelbase of any passenger car in the Volkswagen lineup. With these changes also came news that VW had the American market in mind for the future of the Phaeton.
This move certainly makes more sense than it did back in 2004, as the economic climate has shifted. Even Hyundai is now offering a comparable car with the Equus, for buyers interested in escaping luxury badges and scaling back. There is no word on pricing—as the car is still a few years out—but when (and if) the Phaeton finally makes its return, VW will likely price it well below the $78,750 price tag of its corporate cousin, the Audi A8. (800.374.8389; www.vw.com)