The Volkswagen Phaeton, which has been slow in selling, has been upgraded. The revised luxury saloon was introduced today at the Beijing Auto Show. The launch venue was chosen precisely because it didn't sell so well in the UK and Europe but sells well in Asia. And in the US, it was pulled from sale completely in 2006.
The Phaeton's biggest markets are China and South Korea. VW sold 1400 Phaetons in China last year, a 40% compared to 2008 figures. However, these changes are mostly cosmetic.
VW's new Phaeton receives front-end styling shared by all new Volkswagens, including the Polo, Golf and Touareg. Styling tweaks have also been made at the rear.
The new kit also includes Google Maps and road sign recognition technology. The engine range is likely to be the same as in the current Phaeton. The model will be equipped with a 237bhp 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel, which will be offered in both short and long-wheelbase models.
However, the flagship 444bhp W12 petrol will be offered in the long-wheelbase Phaeton only. The car is set to go on sale in the UK in October with prices estimated to start at around £45,000.
Further boosting the Volkswagen Phaeton's appeal are electronic assistance systems like Dynamic Light Assist (dynamic main beam control) and ACC (automatic distance regulation), as well as Front Assist (surroundings monitoring), Side Assist (lane change assistance).
Phaeton is also given a tire pressure control system. Specifically, the Dynamic Light Assist system is an optional camera-based main beam control system for improved passive safety. This system – connected with a camera mounted behind the windscreen – keeps the main beam modules of the Bi-Xenon headlamps on, masking the areas of beams that might disturb other road users.
Dynamic Light Assist does not only provide more light but it also improves vehicle safety. This system is able to perform its role thanks to an extra aperture between the reflector holding the Xenon bulb and the lens.
This extra aperture -- along with an intelligent lateral tilting of the complete module (through the cornering light function) as well as individual control of the left and right headlights -- allows the light source to be masked only in areas that might distract other motorists.
Moreover, the convenience and safety of the Dynamic Light Assist are further boosted by that cornering light control system that employs the front camera to detect the exact position of a vehicle in front. This cornering light control system, during 60 km/h or more, 'pushes' the cone of light up to the rear or side of the Phaeton.
ACC (automatic distance regulation), meanwhile, helps the driver feel more relaxed by keeping a legally prescribed minimum distance from the vehicle in front of the Phaeton. Since the Phaeton automatically distances itself away from a vehicle in front, drivers would not have to perform braking or acceleration during longer highway trips.
A key element of the ACC is a Front Assist system that helps avert rear-end collisions. This system employs a radar sensor to monitor the distance between the Phaeton and any vehicle in front. If this distance is shortened, Front Assist would alert the driver in two stages.
Even before that, Front Assist takes preventive action by placing the Phaeton’s brakes into a preconditioned status, which would only be activated when the brake pedal is pushed down. Thus, when a driver takes action to hit the brakes, Phaeton’s stopping distance would be reduced.