Volkswagen Considering BMW 5 Series Competitor
Volkswagen as a car brand has largely steered clear of the luxury segment in recent years, with the Phaeton carrying the flag for VW as the company’s only luxury model. Unfortunately, the flagship sedan hasn’t had the kind of sales success VW had hoped it would have. But all that could change soon as an Autobild report suggests that Volkswagen is preparing to bring in another luxury model to help fill the gap between the Passat and the Phaeton — the Phaeton is set to return to the U.S. in the near future.
According to the German newspaper, Volkswagen is setting its sights on the BMW 5 Series with a new sedan that would be earmarked specifically for the U.S. and Chinese markets. A station wagon version is expected to follow soon after, creating a variety of versions for discerning customers looking for an alternative to the 5 Series, or any other sedan in the same segment.
There are still a lot of details about this yet-to-be-named model that need to be ironed out. One would be the platform it uses. Apparently, discussions within Volkswagen have narrowed the choices to two: the MQB platform that will underpin the next-generation Passat or the MLB platform that the Audi A6 currently uses. It’s more likely that Volkswagen will opt for the latter as it tries to borrow a lot of the tech and mechanical bits from the A6 to give the sedan its luxury digs yet still keep it at a distance from the much bigger Phaeton.
Power won’t be an issue, either, as Volkswagen is likely to scour through its own parts bin to find an appropriate four- or six-cylinder to drop into the sedan’s engine bay. A V-8 could also be in the cards, although it’s unlikely that VW goes ahead with it knowing that the Phaeton’s top-range unit already carries the same engine under its hood.
Despite the ongoing discussions surrounding this new luxury sedan, don’t expect to see it anytime soon because a debut is unlikely at least until the end of this decade.
Click past the jump to read more about Volkswagen’s future BMW 5 Series competitor.
Why it matters
If there ever was a car that needs some company in Volkswagen’s lineup, it’s the Phaeton. The premium sedan has been carrying the flag for the company for more than a decade, and Volkswagen hasn’t done anything to complement it with a smaller luxury model. If you’re looking at Volkswagen’s lineup, there really is no balance at the top of the heap.
The Phaeton sits at the top and then it falls down to the Passat, which counts the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry, and the Hyundai Sonata as its closest competitors. You could make a case for the CC, but that model is largely treated as posher derivative of the Passat and not a completely different model.
This new sedan could very well be the help the Phaeton has been looking for all these years. Hopefully, Volkswagen pushes forward with this plan and gives the Phaeton some much-needed help.
On that note, how about a second-gen Phaeton, too? That’s not too much to ask, is it Volkswagen?
First introduced in 2002 as a direct rival to German luxury saloons like the Mercedes S-Class and the BMW 6 Series, the Volkswagen Phaeton has been trudging along, largely untouched, for the better part of 12 years. It’s hard to believe but the model has yet to reach its second generation, boasting only of two facelifts in 2007 and 2010. You might say that Volkswagen has probably forsaken the Phaeton but the mere fact that it continues to sell the luxury sedan to this day suggests that it hasn’t given up on it just yet.
VW has hinted that a next-generation model is already in the works but we’ve heard this story since 2010. The lack of attention has come at a cost as the Phaeton has had sluggish sales numbers in the past few years. With its rivals bringing out new models on a far more frequent basis, it’s becoming more and more important for Volkswagen to do something about its flagship sedan.
The most recent Phaeton features a 3.6-liter, V-6, FSI engine that pumps out 276 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and a 4.2-liter, V-8 engine that develops 330 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. A massive 6.0-liter, W12 engine was offered from 2010 to 2011 packing 444 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque.