Actually, we would have gotten used to this car long ago. It could appear regularly in the 8 p.m. “Tagesschau”, perhaps “Mutti Merkel” would have disappeared into the night late in the evening of November 19, 2017 with the corners of her mouth pulled down when Lindner burst the “Jamaica” sounding because he “rather not to govern than to govern badly”. But we never saw this car, we didn’t even know it was there. Until now.
The Phaeton successor never went into series production
To understand this motor vehicle, let’s take a look at the electric seat adjustment: They even made the frame for the buttons on the side of the leather seats from metal, not plastic. A car as if milled from solid, a car like a declaration of war on Mercedes.
Now we are faced with the successor to the Phaeton, the car that VW never let go into series production, although the plans were actually completely different.
The VW Phaeton 2 smells of prosperity and well-being
Tomasz Bachorski (51) and Marco Pavone (44) are really likeable guys. One, Tomasz, has been interior design chief since 2009, the other, Marco, has been responsible for the exterior since 2017. In 2013 they prevailed with their proposals for the new Phaeton.
Accolade for two VW designers
The day of the decision must have passed like this: “Walhalla”, the large hall in the VW design center in Wolfsburg, chairman of the supervisory board Piëch, VW boss Winterkorn, other board members, division heads, a total of around 25 people.
Huge curved digital landscape in the Phaeton 2
When Tomasz and Marco were working on the second generation of the Phaeton ten years ago, they were already dreaming of seeing their designs on the road: “You want to write VW history,” says the interior expert, “you always have this absolute Willingness to create something special that you see every day.”
What is special about the Phaeton 2 must be seen in the context of its time. We’re looking at a huge curved digital landscape wrapped around the driver.
Tomasz explains: “In 2010 we could already foresee that the screens of smartphones and tablets would keep getting bigger. So that should be the case with cars too. And of course you want to intuitively press a symbol and then something should happen in real time, that’s right the same with the tablet.”
Doubters criticized the digital speedometer
But we’re talking about VW here. So also from doubters who, unlike designers and engineers, do not live in today and tomorrow, but in yesterday and the day before yesterday. And so a little anecdote is circulating. Because you don’t see any instruments in the digital cockpit when the car is off, only a screen, there are said to have been people who commented: “In the car dealership you can’t see whether the speedometer goes up to 260 or 300!”
Then Tomasz points to the Phaeton’s perforated leather seats. “The holes have different thicknesses, which is expensive.” Just like the thing with the “Phaeton” lettering on the backrests of the individual seats. Milled letters, individually sewn on.
Electrically retractable cup holders with temperature control function
There are the cup holders in the real wood center console, which in the first generation could be lowered by hand with a “click” and counter-pressure. For the second edition, they’re doing it electrically; should cool water or warm coffee. The seats should also warm and cool, hence the perforated leather.
But then came the reality. It was 2015 when the earth shook at VW. Boss “Wiko” had to admit that they had been cheated on a large scale when it came to the emission values of the diesel engines, resignation, investigations, fines, pure fear at VW. fear in everyone.
And the end for the actually decided Phaeton. A premium sedan with a combustion engine, of which just 2,924 were built in the fateful year of 2015? No!
However, all the work on the new Phaeton was not in vain. Tomasz: “We were able to save the curved digital cockpit in 2018 for the third Touareg generation.” It still looks a lot like Tesla today and a little like yesterday.
Attention to detail is back at VW
The story of the company’s own Phaeton app, which can be used to pre-cool or pre-heat the car, for example, lives on in other new models.
“It’s part of the nature of our job that we sometimes have to live with a no,” Kabaň lectures. But this no, it also had something of a yes. It’s about the future of VW design, about value and quality. In other words, the topics that were at the top of the agenda for the Phaeton.
Kabaň has been back at VW for two years, and with him the attention to detail. They want more value again, they have recognized that surface quality is important, that plastic can also feel good, that a glass screen looks better than one behind plastic, that controllers should be defied.
The forgotten Phaeton. Luckily they haven’t completely forgotten about him.