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2011 Volkswagen Phaeton
A little update for Volkswagen’s big sedan debuts in China.

Volkswagen’s Phaeton flopped here in the U.S., arriving on our shores in 2003 and retreating in 2006. Elsewhere in the world, the Phaeton has been successful enough to earn an update for 2011—albeit a very minor one.

New front and rear fascias reflect VW’s new, more svelte design philosophy. Where once were gum-bubble swells, now the bumpers are sucked tight against imaginary ribs, although the basic design and proportions of both ends remain nearly identical to before. In front, the grille widens slightly, although the headlights retain their basic shape. Now, the maw just tucks in a little tighter against them.

Powertrain options in the Phaeton remain unchanged. The lone diesel choice is a 240-hp, 3.0-liter V-6, while the gas-powered camp gets the choice between a 280-hp, 3.6-liter V-6, a 335-hp, 4.2-liter V-8, or a 450-hp, 6.0-liter W-12. Interestingly, the Phaeton does not see the updated, 500-hp, 6.3-liter W-12 from the new Audi A8. While the updates include no mention of the Phaeton returning to the U.S., we have heard from several high-placed executives that a comeback is being considered, likely after the next generation arrives in a few years. In the meantime, the Phaeton will remain one of our favorite means of livery transport abroad.

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