2011 VW Phaeton: One More Reason Why China Owns Us

The 2011 Volkswagen Phaeton continues to be one of the most over-engineered, understated ways to hit 186 MPH. Perfect for Chinese businessmen who don't want American peasants to realize who their real masters are.

View gallery »

Unveiled today at the Beijing Motor Show, China will be getting the Dresden-built Phaeton while America will not. You see, in China, the newly wealthy don't always like to advertise their wealth with conspicious labels. During the short time the Phaeton was on sale here, no one bought it because they didn't want to pay $80k for a Jetta.

The facelift includes a sterner face composed of bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights and a new grilles with two horizontal bars running across it. Other small touches include a reprofiled hood, new front bumper, and new taillights. Inside, there's a new steering wheel and, like the Audi A8, navigation is achieved through Google Maps.

The Phaeton's uniquely over-engineered character remains. The climate control system is designed to maintain a constant 72 degrees fahrenheit inside the cabin while driving at a sustained speed of 186 MPH through an outside temperature of 122 degrees. The brakes, suspension, aerodynamics, steering and windshield wipers are also designed to perform flawlessly at that top speed. Also retained is the continuously adjusting air suspension system.

Engine choices will be either a 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel making 240 HP or a 6.0-liter, 450 HP W12.

VW has previously discussed bringing the next Phaeton to the US, but, in the same conversation, referred to that vehicle as being based on the platform that underpins the 2011 Audi A8 and will go under the next A6. This 2011 model is merely a facelift of the current version that's been in production since 2002.