A new report from Autobild suggests that Volkswagen is working on a new model that would compete with the BMW 5-Series, thereby giving the range-topping Phaeton some room to breathe at the top.
Since it removed its Audi A8-based Phaeton from the U.S. market in 2006, Volkswagen has been absent from the luxury car market. Unsurprisingly, the brand still sells the Phaeton in other markets across the globe, with China and Europe being the most receptive to the full-size luxury sedan. What is surprising, though, is that the Phaeton has yet to reach a second generation despite being introduced in 2002, with only minor facelifts carrying the first generation for over 12 years. To that end, we’ve heard reports in the past claiming that the Phaeton will return to America with the introduction of the second-generation version, which gives credit to the rumor of this new mid-size model.
A quick look at Volkswagen’s sedan portfolio shows that there’s still room for a model. From smallest to largest, VW’s sedan portfolio goes like so: subcompact Polo Sedan, compact Jetta, midsize Passat. The portfolio then suddenly jumps into the stratosphere to the Phaeton. Sure, there’s the Volkswagen CC, but that’s really a posh Passat than a standalone model. So to remedy the situation, Volkswagen would bridge the gap between the Passat and Phaeton with the middle-of-the-road luxury vehicle aimed at the BMW 5-Series along with its direct competitor — the Mercedes-Benz E-Class as well as the Hyundai Genesis, Lexus GS, and Cadillac CTS in North America. Of course, the Audi A6 is Volkswagen Group’s answer to the 5er and the E-Class, but we imagine that the VW will be less expensive.
Furthermore, the all-new model would be aimed at the U.S. and Chinese markets, where there is plenty of room to grab market share in the segment. Perhaps the bigger question would be which platform Volkswagen will utilize for the new model. The two most obvious choices are VW’s “flexible to the point of being Lego-esque” MQB and Audi’s MLB. VW will likely pick the latter for the new model, as it attempts to load the vehicle with as much technology and mechanical bits from the A6 as it can to give it a real chance at turning some BMW customers into a Volkswagen showroom. Although isn’t that what Audi and the A6 is for? But we digress… for now.
Power shouldn’t be an issue either, as Volkswagen will likely dig into its corporate parts bin and shimmy an appropriate four or six-cylinder into the bonnet. A V8 is possible, but if this will truly be a Volkswagen sedan shuffle, the V8 may be reserved exclusively for the Phaeton, which currently employs the 4.2-liter V8.
The up-level midsize car is said to currently be in very early development stages, so don’t expect an introduction until the end of this decade.
The Motrolix Take
This sounds good and all, but we wonder how VW will position the vehicle in relation to the Audi A6, which is directly positioned against the 5 Series and the E-Class. Perhaps if the vehicle is positioned as an affordable luxury alternative to the tune of the Hyundai Genesis sedan, then it might work well and avoid confusion (and cross-shopping) with the Audi A6. But if not, we wonder why anyone wouldn’t just buy the more prestigious Audi, and not even look at the new VeeDub.