February 27, 2024

We want to thank the past due Ferdinand Piech, one time Volkswagen Workforce uber-boss, for an important proportion of our bravest Tablets. However right here’s one who completes the set, and needs to be top within the working for essentially the most brave of the lot.

K, so this column is but to function a Porsche 917, however there are ticks towards nearly all the different automobiles that Piech willed into lifestyles, regularly the usage of a control taste that gave the impression to be in response to Conan the Barbarian’s. The listing comprises the unique Audi Quattro, W12-powered Bentley Continental, the quite smaller W8 that was once squeezed right into a Passat or even the Bugatti Veyron itself. We’ve additionally featured this week’s engine two times prior to, the V10 diesel that was once created extra to exhibit technical superiority than because of any rational standards, even supposing each occasions within the Touareg.

Whilst the Touareg V10 is fearless sufficient to streak on the wintry weather Olympics, the Phaeton will all the time be the realer deal. This was once the automobile born from Piech’s non-public obsessions and want to one-up opponents. Angry by way of Merc’s transfer into what he noticed as Volkswagen territory with the primary A-Elegance, Ferdinand made up our minds to dispatch a tank to park on Daimler’s garden. The company riposte could be an S-Elegance rival, one who wouldn’t simply fit the Sonderklasse which had loved twenty years on the most sensible of its section, however as an alternative beat it in all key spaces.

The Phaeton would have the grandest get started in lifestyles, sitting at the identical platform as the only created for the impending Bentley Continental. However the want for Merc-beating efficiency with the range-topper additionally supposed it will use the similar 6.0-litre W12 engine that was once being advanced for its posher sibling, even supposing with out turbocharging. 420hp was once nonetheless lots, although.

However Piech’s different standards of bestness for his manifesto product had been extra not easy, some to the purpose of obsession. One was once that it will want a torsional pressure of 37,000Nm/ diploma – a determine which gave it the stiffest construction of any four-door passenger automobile on the earth on the time. Some other was once that the bonnet may just now not visibly transfer, in any respect, even if the automobile was once travelling at its most sensible velocity; this was once obviously a Piech bugbear. He additionally ordered that it needed to be able to travelling via 50-degree ambient warmth at 186mph whilst keeping up an inner cabin temperature of 22-degrees, this in spite of manufacturing variations being limited to 155mph. 

There was once one obtrusive factor with the range-topping W12 engine: Europe’s fast transfer against compression ignition. Nowadays Rudolf Diesel is much more likely to be burned in effigy than celebrated, however on the flip of the century DERV actually did appear to be the gasoline of the long run, and Volkswagen executives predicted that the profligate 12-cylinder could be a bar to gross sales in Euro-land. In other places the gang was once already running at the advent of a brand new V8 diesel, so it was once an obtrusive stretch to reserve a brawnier V10 that would sit down above it and tool the Phaeton and Touarag. One that had, as introduced, 5.0-litres of swept capability, 309hp and an enormous 553lb-ft of torque.

Large effort was once being spent on engineering and generation, with all however the elementary V6 Phaeton getting all-wheel force, air suspension, adaptive dampers and an early use of radar cruise keep watch over. However a lot much less effort was once spent at the Phaeton’s styling, which was once clean and muscular and did a excellent process at minimizing the automobile’s visible scale – even the fast wheelbase model was once over 5 metres in period – but in addition very clearly Volkswagen-y. 

The Phaeton ended up bearing any such circle of relatives resemblance to the fresh B5 facelift Passat that homeowners of the grander automobile had been repeatedly being requested if it was once the inexpensive one. Which was once a bit of of a advertising and marketing fail given the Passat kicked off at £15,000 whilst the boggo V6 petrol Phaeton indexed at £43,000. Above that the V10 TDI was once £58,000 prior to choices – and the LWB W12 was once just about £72,000. That’s greater than the £61,935 VW will rate you for the Touareg V6 R-Line which is the most costly factor they promote in the United Kingdom in 2022, and method the father Phaeton price the identical of £117,500 in our depreciated kilos. Which was once loopy cash.

Nor was once the V10 a scintillating dynamic enjoy. Piech’s definition of luxurious was once all about being calm, speedy and unflustered – all traits it did really well. The massive diesel gave easy ground-up thrust and not grew to become loud or coarse, even if driven. Supple suspension pillowed and parried bumps and dips as suitable, and if homeowners did need to shuttle alongside a searing desolate tract freeway at V.max the local weather keep watch over would without doubt have saved them properly chilled.

However those had been all virtues by way of omission, and there was once little pleasure to be present in what was once all the time a delicate riding enjoy, to the level the S-Elegance felt like a considerably sharper steer. My greatest reminiscence of riding a press V10 TDI via London was once the fraught navigation via width restrictors because of each the Fats One’s XL dimensions and a deficient sense of the place its extremities lay. That and the orange picket trim, with photographs of our Tablet’s inner triggering flashbacks.

Piech had delivered on his imaginative and prescient of an excellent saloon, however it wasn’t one who many doable consumers perceived to proportion. Granted the Volkswagen badge didn’t do the Phaeton many favours amongst logo aware patrons, with the Phaeton being constantly outsold by way of the Audi A8. Earlier than Phaeton manufacturing started Volkswagen instructed newshounds that the new ‘Glass Manufacturing unit’ in Dresden, every other nine-figure little bit of CapEx in its personal proper, would be capable of make as much as 20,000 Phaetons a yr. It by no means were given shut – after the primary 4 years of gross sales simply 25,000 automobiles were constructed. Gross sales in fact stepped forward later because the Phaeton grew common in China, however by the point manufacturing stopped in 2016 simplest 85,000 had rolled off the manufacturing line. 

Most effective round 2,000 of those ended up coming to the United Kingdom, with nearly all of British automobiles powered by way of the V6 diesel. The V10 was once uncommon to the level that many Volkswagen dealerships more than likely by no means noticed one. The excellent news is that it’s extensively appeared to be a lot more straightforward to paintings on than the packaging nightmare that’s the Touareg V10 TDI, which was once just about wrapped round its engine. However the unhealthy information is that any V10 nonetheless has the capability to provide severe expenses, with main points just like the £400 injectors and bork-prone digital keep watch over packing containers. Regardless of the facility to get north of 30mpg on a gradual run, you’re by no means going to run this kind of on a decent funds.

But they’re nonetheless very attractively priced for what they’re. Our Tablet is an pre-facelift automobile from 2005 which has coated simply 78,000 miles in line with the broker promoting it. A look on the MOT file at the back of the hidden plates displays that the ultimate take a look at at the present registration was once handed in 2015, when it had coated 71,800 miles, so it has both spent a duration off the street since then, or spent a while dressed in every other registration that hasn’t stuck up but. However the supplier is brave or assured sufficient to offer a three-month guaranty inside of what actually does appear to be a particularly reasonable £8,995 price ticket.

That’s stonking price for such a lot automobile, with such a lot engine – even though one that can more than likely quickly have its freedom of motion restricted by way of extra low emissions zones. And when it’s sooner or later banned from use it is going to be nearly assured a plinth within the Museum of Environmental Hatecrime.