Vip Tours | 1
|American Dream Mobile
| The Volkswagen Phaeton
V10 TDI receives
Extraordinaire - Society
The Ultimate Award:
Stars and Stripes
|As featured in the
November 2003 edition of the Montauk Sun, Hamptons, N.Y.
American Dream Mobile of the Month: Volkswagen Phaeton.
In the 19th century the Phaeton was the name for a noble coach,
which was not controlled by a coachman but by the master himself.
|"With the launch of the Phaeton, Volkswagen
is expanding its unique appeal to the luxury segment. This car delivers
the best qualities of German-engineered performance and luxury at a superior
value," said Frank Maguire, Vice President of sales and marketing, Volkswagen
of America, Inc.
Well, we had to prove this statement on its own merits. And one thing in
advance - It is without a doubt an American Dream Mobile, come with us,
take a closer look:
Volkswagen Phaeton Label
Phaeton is a totally new car built for the luxury segment by
the well-known German automaker Volkswagen. VW Chairman Bernd
Pischetsrieder envisioned that the Phaeton would not compete
with its cousin Audi but said, 'with the introduction of Phaeton,
we give those (VW) customers a reason to not leave the brand.'
We had the pleasure to test-drive the new luxury limousine Volkswagen
Phaeton V10 TDI on our recent European tour from Munich, Germany
via Ascona, Switzerland to Vienna, Austria in October 2003.
First of all, here are some key features:
- 4-MOTION four-wheel drive system
- 4-Zone Climatronic System
- 16-way Power Seating w/ lumbar
- Infotainment System & Dashboard
- 5.0 liter V10 TDI Diesel Engine
- Air Suspension System
- Tire Pressure Monitor & Parking
- Keyless Entry System
- 12 Speaker Surround Sound System
|Remember the Name "Phaeton"?
As you might know from the Greek
mythology, Phaeton was the son of the sun god Helios. Phaeton, whose name
stands for "the shining one", persuaded his father to let him drive the
chariot of the sun across the heavens
And so it was, with this 'Chariot of the Gods' that we started our 5 country
(Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy and Austria) American Dream
Tour in Munich - Germany with a 3day stop at the famous Bayerischer Hof
|Christine Graf-Eckhard the Director
of Public Relations & Media at the Bayerischer Hof welcomed
us personally and promptly commented on our "Great American Dream
Mobile". Our strongly agree. Our first impression of the Volkswagen
Phaeton: We were awed by its technological design, its size, power
and torque. Also outstanding is the front view of the Volkswagen
Phaeton, which combines elegance and strength with aerodynamic
styling allowing on average 28mpg economy. For John Lomitola, the
Editorial Director it was love at first sight: "Its steering is more
responsive and gives better feedback, so it's an easier car to thread
confidently through tight corners.
the Volkswagen Phaeton
|The Phaeton is definitely an eye-catcher,
all the other guests where trying to take a peek of the latest model. It
is a new star in the world of auto luxury and will compete with other full-sized
luxury vehicles as the Audi A8, Infiniti Q45 and Lexus
LS 430 successfully.
One may individualize, or should we use the term personalize, ones
carriage in many ways: for instance in Europe one will have a choice of
the 5.0-liter V10 turbo diesel with 309 horsepower and an astounding 542
foot-pounds of torque; this will be the most powerful diesel engine available
in a passenger vehicle and will be mated to a six-speed automatic. We liked
the option of a glass sunroof, or one may choose a solar version with 28
built-in solar cells supplying up to 37 watts of power! This is used to
power the AC and kept the cabin cooler when we parked. All the glass is
laminated and contains a heat-reflecting film. Is it special enough, and
imposing enough, for the target buyers? The market will decide.
We particularly liked the metallic silver color of our Phaeton much.
On the one side, silver is non- obtrusive, on the other side it highlights
the state of the art design of the Volkswagen Phaeton, harmonious,
powerful body lines which emphasize the dynamic properties of the Phaeton.
Above all it is fair to say that the Phaeton is a fabulous machine
and due to very high standards of quality control, it seems that this car
is made out of one piece, as if to say 'sculpted' by artisans. Even the
ultrasonic sensors, which guide you through the most difficult parallel
park, are integrated into the whole piece of artwork. This feature actually
came in quite handy as a very agitated female traffic control officer was
approaching us for a second time. We quickly and quietly slipped in behind
an SL 500 and in front of a Bentley by the curb of the Bayerischer Hof.
Eventually, she arrived on the scene only to witness Thorsten with a 'cat
who ate the canary' expression on his confident face. It was as if the vehicle
was some sort of futuristic stealth machine!
Germany is not only famous for Oktoberfest, which we had yet to discover
but also famous for its Autobahns, superhighways with no speed limits. The
Volkswagen Phaeton V10 TDI has a lot of power, the strong, agile
engine brought us in seconds to speeds beyond your imagination in seconds.
Now there is now a chance to satisfy an unfulfilled desire regarding power
when you need it. Thanks to the 4MOTION four-wheel drive system and
its unbelievable brakes we felt very safe, solid and stable in the Volkswagen
Phaeton V10 TDI.
|It doesn't matter if you are on the Autobahn or
on Switzerland's narrow serpentine mountain switchbacks, we felt encapsulated
in the protection of 8 air bags and precise power-assisted steering that
gives you an accurate perception of the road conditions. What a super car
to enjoy, great handling over the uneven surfaces of Ascona, Switzerland
accomplished with the confidence building automatic-leveling air suspension
and tire pressure monitor that lets you know if the air pressures are slightly
less than optimal. It even monitors the spare tire! At least at that point
we knew that this is the car for the Hamptons.
From Ascona, Switzerland to Vienna, Austria - a hop? Yes! Well, not exactly!
Getting to Vienna the shortest way from Ascona requires driving into northern
Italy first and then back up and over the mountains of the Friuli region
into southern Austria. The autobahns of Austria, though not unlimited speed,
can be driven at a respectable 130 - 140 kph or roughly about 80 - 85 mph.
Staehler arriving at the Grand
|For this caliber of automobile, that
speed is an official 'no-brainer'! "It's so relaxing to ride this
car - even if it takes a little longer," John said, "especially
if it takes a little longer", easy to understand if you consider
the built-in seat massagers. But more on this subject a little later
in the story.
So we arrived 'fluffed and buffed' as if our own personal massage
therapist was en route with us. Heads turned as we cruised the Ring
Strasse in this Imperial City and we prepared to check into The Grand
Hotel Wien, undoubtedly the finest Hotel in Vienna.
| The concierge set out to develop
a special series of driving routes in and around Vienna, combining urban
slalom courses, back country roads with spectacular scenery and frequent
stops for refreshment and photo-ops. Our first attempt to program these
parameters into the GPS went flawlessly as it practically leads you by the
hand to completion. The Phaeton is equipped with OnStar®
and an integrated infotainment center with numerous personal profile settings
featuring a seven-inch color screen that functions with the CD changer,
navigation system, onboard trip computer and air conditioning.
The first leg of our journey led us through the streets of the city past
the Hofburg, Karlskirche, Belvedere and Schoenbrunn Palace
.to Schlumberger one of the
finest sparkling wine producers in Austria. Robert Schlumberger, an
aristocrat from Goldeck, began his career in Reims (France) at the
oldest Champagne Cellar Ruinart Père et Fils. After founding
Schlumberger in 1842, he started to produce sparkling wine according
to the Methode Champenois. Years of experience and refinement catapulted
by his hand-crafted art culminated in a 21st century product.
It is no wonder that the Schlumberger literally flows on Austrian
Airlines Grand Class flights to Vienna. The extended tour through
cellars where all these masterpieces are patiently waiting to be enjoyed
by their high-class clientele was very interesting and informative.
Rolf Staehler, one of our American Dream Mobile test-drivers, stated
in his very own unique way: Awesome. The car cuts right to the
core, elegant, easy to navigate, a delight.
Lomitola arrival at Schlumberger
|It was now with great excitement
that our American Dream Mobile Test-Driving Team decided to put the Phaeton
to the test. We had seen the great Danube River which runs through the city
of Vienna in somewhat of a straight line, but just a little further west
lies a more rugged stretch of the river wound snake-like through a historic
and picturesque region known as the Wachau. We set the GPS for the ancient
village of Durnstein, located on the banks of the Danube and known historically
for the castle above the village in which King Richard the Lionheart was
imprisoned during one of his return trips from the Crusades.
For the Phaeton the winding roads through vineyards and tunnels proved
to be an effortless exercise, highlighted by the excitement created during
frequent stops for photos. Upon arrival at a parkplatz as was the case often
during our journey, people would stop to examine the Phaeton and
ask questions while trying to disguise their curiosity.
|Our own curiosity was immediately
drawn to having a nice coffee and Austrian pastry somewhere overlooking
the river, but first we had to negotiate the steep narrow medieval
streets of Durnstein on foot.
Inspired by a Phaeton-like drive to follow the sun, we found the Hotel
Schloss Durnstein strategically built on a high cliff overlooking
the magnificent Danube and bathed in dappled sunlight.
|Built 350 years ago and lovingly
restored, rooms and restaurant have fabulous views of either the Danube
or the surrounding world-class vineyards. A very hospitable Rosemarie Thiery,
proprietor for the establishment, invited us in to sample 'biedermeiertorte'
and café mélange while she prepared to take us on a small
tour of the premises.
|Durnstein is located in the heart
of one of the finest wine producing regions in Austria and Ms Thiery
had quietly arranged for us to meet with Anton Robert Bodenstein winemaker
of the Prager Vineyards a top exporter of Austrian wines to the US.
A delightful short hop with the Phaeton took us to the strikingly
terraced slopes directly under the ruins of the Castle Durnstein,
from which the majestic Danube river was visible 180 degrees.
Bodenstein & Rolf Staehler
|Our host Mr. Bodenstein was eager
to complete his measurements of the sugar content (Brix) of his current
crop of Veltliner and Riesling grape varietals and was willing to let us
tag along while he traipsed through the rows of grapevines sampling here
and there to test for the optimal time for harvesting. From vineyard to
winery, Bodenstein seemed passionate in his pursuit of excellence and was
determined to show us how it was all created in the state of the art production
facility. As day came to an end we were left with the feeling of warmth
and hospitality as we reminisced on our return to Vienna of the events of
our truly distinguished day.
|The interior of the Volkswagen
Entering the Volkswagen Phaeton we were comforted by the finest supple
leather seats and laminated wood used for the interior which is dominated
by a refreshing, clear and balanced elegance. Werner Wilhelm, technical
project leader for Phaeton, said that 'luxury customers expect and
demand a high level of sophistication in their automobiles' and the VW
interiors have maintained the highest level of quality in the industry over
the past few years and judging from the Phaeton, they have raised that level
of refinement as well. The Volkswagen Phaeton in our opinion really
is a noble means of transportation.
The communication system for contacting the outside world consists of a
telephone fixture with navigation system, an interactive vehicle operating
manual, TV reception and videotext. Via the infotainment centre, the pictures
can be displayed in a 16:9 and 4:3 format.
|'Audio-Visual Depth Charge©'
centre with a 7-inch color display and the multifunction display
with a 5-inch color dashboard display in the instrument cluster provide
both information and entertainment to the passengers. Beside this,
there is a sound system with an analogue 8-channel amplifier, ten
speakers, a CD-changer for 6 CD's in the glove compartment, a multi-purpose
rear window antenna (for radio, navigation, TV, telephone) and 230
W music performance.
The Phaeton V10 TDI comes with two separate rear seats, soft, fine,
comfy leather on the outside and loads of technology inside. The front
seats are fitted with an 18-way adjustment facility, while the rear
seats adjust 10-ways. Each seat has its own AC and a massage module
as well as rear seat heating and a memory function for three different
drivers and front-seat passengers. Can one believe it? The newly designed
seating system is optimal comfort.
To see more from the interior of the Volkswagen Phaeton,
please click here to enter a VIP
a closer look
|The Volkswagen Phaeton offers a
large and well designed, practical trunk with a 500 liter storage compartment.
Four golf bags can easily be stowed in the trunk, which can be comfortably
loaded. The trunk lid of the Volkswagen Phaeton V10 TDI is automatically
opened using a servo mechanism and closed by the click of a button or the
simple touch of the VW emblem.
'Toyz in the Hood©'
The Volkswagen Phaeton V10 TDI
For our travel we laid our hands on the strong diesel engine available for
the Volkswagen Phaeton. The V10 TDI has an output of 230 kW
/ 313 hp and 750 Nm of torque. Its ten-cylinder engine coupled with twin
turbos is the most powerful diesel engine offered. Volkswagen has coupled
it to its newly developed tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission.
Phaeton V10 TDI engine
a closer look inside
|A diesel engine? Why a diesel engine?,
you might ask. But you'll have to forget everything you've heard about
diesel engines before.
As technology advances, diesel engines are being engineered with fewer
moving parts and often outmatch gasoline engines by its richness of
power and lower fuel consumption.
|We got used to the engine of the
Volkswagen Phaeton V10 TDI. Of course there are several other motorized
versions of the Volkswagen Phaeton available, as for example the
V6 or the V12 (Yes, they have combined two V6 engines to a 12-cylinder engine!).
The Volkswagen Phaeton V10 TDI has been available on the European
market since spring 2003 and was introduced to the US market in November
|Love in 4MOTION
It's the technology, stupid.
Besides to the powerful engine, the Volkswagen Phaeton is equipped
with a wide range of technology in order to make driving as comfortable
and secure as possible. Because of the combination of the four-wheel drive
with an air suspension the Volkswagen Phaeton fulfils the highest demands
for driving comfort and driving dynamics, but also provides a high degree
of driving safety.
The air suspension chassis lowers automatically at high speeds. The Volkswagen
Phaeton offers three different chassis height levels. The level is automatically
actuated depending on the speed so that the driving performance and the
consumption can be optimized at high speeds. And not to forget, the Volkswagen
Phaeton is a true four-wheel drive vehicle. The standard 4MOTION
four-wheel drive offers significant advantages, mainly in the areas of traction
and handling and shows its advantages especially in critical load change
Thorsten, CEO of American Dream Magazine said, "What I loved most about
the Phaeton is that even cruising at 150mph (>250kph), I still
felt safe and secure, but then again I am used to these high speeds on the
Autobahn. The power harnessed from this magnificent engine allows the Phaeton
to accelerate so quickly and smoothly that we didn't even feel it shifting!"
Volkswagen has installed the latest generation of speed-dependent
Servotronic steering in the Phaeton. With increasing speed, the steering
force increases. This ensures pleasant ease of action when parking and,
just as importantly, a significantly increasing steering force level when
The braking system of the new Phaeton is one of the most advanced
and powerful on the market. A number of standard electronic braking control
systems ensure even more improvements of active safety in the Volkswagen
How about ADR? The Volkswagen Phaeton maintains a safe distance
to the vehicle ahead using an automatic distance regulator (ADR) via
radar. The ADR displays the visual information relating to the distance
and selected speed on the 5-inch dashboard display in the instrument
Also worth mentioning is the tire pressure control system of the Volkswagen
Phaeton V10 TDI that works using remote radio signals. Electronic
sensors are located in the tires and continuously measure their pressure
and temperature. In the case of a rapid loss of pressure, the driver
will be notified immediately.
Volkswagen Phaeton Dashboard Display
|More high-tech is found in the keyless entry, start
and exit system. As the driver approaches the vehicle with his coded key
and envelops the door handle with its capacitative sensor, the Phaeton
opens its doors. If not opened within thirty seconds, the doors will lock
|Also worth mentioning
Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the Phaeton production facility,
but we can tell you that the Phaeton is built in the Transparent
Factory in Dresden/Germany. From what we heard about it the dazzling
glass-and-steel factory it seems to be one of the most fascinating auto
plants in the world. The Transparent Factory, which has become a Dresden
landmark, makes it possible for buyers to witness the creation of one's
own car and symbolizes the unique manufacturing and customer service concept
around the Phaeton.
The Phaeton Customer Service is worth being called one hundred percent
lifetime service. It begins with the vehicle handover to the owner and continues
for the entire Phaeton registration period. The Phaeton service provides
optimal support of the vehicle and its driver. It also has many more benefits,
such as a collection and delivery service. Repairs and maintenance purposes
are coordinated by an international Technical Service Centre in Dresden,
which is contacted by the local Volkswagen dealer.
Dr. Bernd Pischetsrieder
|Effective April 17, 2002, the Supervisory
Board of Volkswagen AG appointed Dr. Bernd Pischetsrieder Chairman
of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG. In this capacity, he
is responsible for the Volkswagen Brand Group, including the brands
Volkswagen, koda Auto, Bentley and Bugatti. The
Phaeton, he said, would not only "lift the standard for everyone
in the company", but also "add even more emotion to the Volkswagen
He also stated, "We are adopting a three-pronged product offensive
in the large luxury class. In the product, manufacturing and service
areas, Volkswagen will pursue previously unexplored paths.
Our customers will first of all acquire a high-quality saloon model;
secondly, it will be built in one of the most innovative, high-standard
production plants anywhere in the world - the Glass Factory - and
as the third element in our new approach, Volkswagen is to
offer Phaeton owners a most exceptional service concept that
will remain valid for the car's entire lifetime."
| John, Rolf,
Stefan & Thorsten
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