As part of its top down strategy, Volkswagen has launched its flagship sedan Phaeton in India
The 10th Auto Expo 2010 saw Volkswagen once again reiterate its top down strategy with the launch of the flagship sedan Phaeton. Displaying besides the Polo hatchback, which was unveiled a day before, the Phaeton until now was available as a direct import for those who wanted one. Priced at a whopping Rs 75 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Phaeton, coming from a company that has no less than eight prominent automakers in its kitty, is an effort by Volkswagen to surpass prestigious market leaders like Mercedes Benz and BMW. Claimed to be the brainchild of Ferdinand PiÃƒÂ«ch, the then chairman of Volkswagen Group, who wanted his engineers to create a car that would overwhelmingly surpass the German prestige marques, the decision to develop Phaeton is claimed to be, in part, a response to Mercedes's decision to compete directly with Volkswagen in the European marketplace with the low-cost A-Class.Keeping out politics and the marketing strategies, and the Phaeton is a full-size luxury sedan that was launched in 2002 in Germany. Flaunting understated styling that has come to become the hallmark of Volkswagen cars almost, the Phaeton shares its platform with the Bentley Continental GT and Bentley Continental Flying Spur. The platform, referred to as D1, is a stand-alone steel platform, and was specifically developed for the Phaeton and Bentley Continental. Probably the longest Volkswagen car ever, the Phaeton is hand-assembled in an eco-friendly factory with a glass exterior at Dresden. Because of its transparency the plant is called as the Transparent Factory. Available through a select band of Volkswagen dealers (spread across the metros), the Phaeton continues to be a CBU import. Neeraj Garg, Director (Member of Board) of Volkswagen Passenger Cars Division of Volkswagen Group Sales India, is quick to announce that they are not looking at large numbers. Adds Lutz Kothe, chief general manager - marketing of Volkswagen India, "The Phaeton is part of our top down strategy." Featuring the finest materials, innovative technologies, outstanding design and extraordinary levels of comfort - extraordinarily clear and striking lines that dictate the external shape, also reflecting the quality of the interior. With over 100 individual patents specific to the Phaeton recorded during its development, the body of the car is fabricated and painted at the large Volkswagen works at Zwickau, Germany, and the completed bodies are then transported about 100 km by special road transport vehicles to the Transparent Factory at Dresden. With the Klavier Lack (piano lacquer) option, the vehicle is double-painted and sanded between the first and second paint application. Dressed in leather and employing generous use of wood, the interior reflects perfect workmanship. For 2009, one of the few interesting revisions to the big sedan include the new center console with new controls and an infotainment system with high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen in 16:9 format. Consider the 12-way adjustable seats as a symbol of technological prowess, and filling up the interior specifications list is a draftless four-zone climate system. Fitted with green-tinted heat insulating two layer safety glass, the Phaeton provides the driver with as many as 150 different communication, information and entertainment functions.Remarks Neeraj, "The Phaeton makes the top end. It also represents Volkswagen's technological prowess. Made at the Transparent Factory in Dresden, customers can see their car being built at the plant." Announcing that the Phaeton will showcase technology and capabilities of Volkswagen, Neeraj is quick to answer that as of now the only model available is the 3.6. Offering various customising options, the Phaeton, according to Lutz Kothe, chief general manager - marketing of Volkswagen India, the Phaeton carries the same DNA, that of technology. Technology certainly speaks through every seam of the Phaeton, which flaunts near unparalleled rigidity. The car employs the use of a total of 16 different metals and special plastics, as well as a unique active head restraint system, delivering unmatched levels of safety. Along side the familiar driver assistance systems, the Phaeton combines exemplary performance with optimum quietness. Sharing certain systems such as the transmission and some internal combustion engines with the Audi A8, the Phaeton 3.6 is powered by a 3597 cc longitudinally mounted motor that does 280 PS of power at 6300 rpm, and 370 Nm of torque at 3500rpm. Power is routed through a 6-speed tiptronic gearbox. Featuring air compressor suspension system, and standard Torsen-based 4motion four-wheel drive, the Phaeton stays glued to the road through most times, applying the 280 horses where they need to be. Equipped with ABS, ESP, EBD, ASR, emergency brake assist and a plethora of electronic controls to safely guide all that power and torque on to the road, the Phaeton impresses with its capabilities. With hardly any intention to show off, the Phaeton delivers a strong push of technology in the most understated manner; such that only the ones with an eye for details are able to understand. With 250 confirmed orders for Beetle and 50 orders for Touareg, the Phaeton adds to Volkswagen's aggressive plan to gather a sizable chunk of the Indian auto market.
Tech on 2009 Phaeton also speaks through the infotainment system
Housed in the completely redesigned centre console of the 2009 Phaeton is the infotainment system available in two models -RCD 810 and RNS 810. Redesigned for the Phaeton with high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen in 16:9 format, the RNS 810 unites a very quickly responding navigation system with numerous multimedia functions such as an MP3 player, auxiliary hybrid TV tuner (option) and "Premium" prep for Bluetooth mobile telephone that can be ordered as an option. The navigation system loads the map data it needs from a 30-Gigabyte hard drive integrated in the RNS 810. In parallel, the hard drive is used to save MP3 songs too. Furthermore, modifying general vehicle settings via the touchscreen monitor is both easy and convenient. Higher-level menus are selected by eight keys added to the left and right sides of the touchscreen. The signal from the optional rearview camera is also transmitted to the screen. The integrated DVD drive can read out all commonly used audio formats and - when the vehicle is stationary - videos can also be played back over the monitor in brilliant image quality. There is also a slot for SD memory cards on the front of the unit. External MP3 players and similar data media find a suitable interface in the form of the MEDIA-IN (MDI) media socket. As mentioned, the new RNS 810 unit's functionality can be extended with a hybrid TV tuner. It enables reception of both analog and digital broadcasting stations (DVB-T). Its digital reception enables an especially high image quality. In addition, the latest news can be called up via the integrated video text feature.When paired with a mobile telephone prep such as the "Premium" Bluetooth system, the RNS 810 also makes telephoning easier. It is conveniently operated by pressing the "Phone" key to the left of the 8-inch display. The touchscreen can be used for further user control, such as scrolling through the phone number memory or direct dialing via the 10-key numeric keypad shown on the screen. As an alternative, the telephone may be operated with ease with the multifunctional steering wheel, by voice control or from an auxiliary mobile unit.As an option, a high-end sound system can be added to the RNS 810: the Dynaudio Temptation". The system with its 1,000 Watts of acoustic power output via its twelve-channel digital amplifier and digital signal processor (DSP) provides for an exceptional sound experience of the superlative class. The sound system includes twelve Dynaudio loudspeakers with practically perfect equalisation.