The Phaeton – the Volkswagen flagship – has new technical features on board starting right now. An entirely new generation of infotainment systems (RCD 810 and RNS 810) is being introduced. The systems – equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen – offer significantly extended functionality, quicker access to infor¬mation and a nearly self-explanatory user interface logic. Another new design on this model is the control unit for the standard four-zone automatic climate control system. The RCD 810 or RNS 810 and climate control share a common module in the center console area. The center console itself has a completely new look. As an option, the RNS 810 radio-navigation system can be extended to include a new 1,000 Watt strong high-end sound system from Danish hi-fi specialist Dynaudio.

Upgrades for the 2009 model year extend to the powertrain as well. New to the Phaeton engine lineup is a considerably more efficient V6 gasoline direct-injection engine (FSI) with 206 kW / 280 PS. Compared to the previous engine, the V6 FSI offers a performance gain of 39 PS, on the one hand, yet it consumes 0.4 liters less fuel per 100 kilometers on the other. A common feature: All four gasoline and diesel engines on the Phaeton (176 kW / 240 PS to 331 kW / 450 PS) fulfill the new Euro-5 emissions standard.

Other changes to the 2009 model year car now being launched include: three new types of alloy wheels (17, 18 and 19 inch), a slightly modified radiator grille, three new car colors ("Silver leaf metallic", "Beryllium gray metallic" and "Mocca-anthracite pearl effect"), the new leather color "Corn silk beige", the new wood accents "Poplar grain latte macchiato" and "Vavona", white switch illumination instead of red, accent and switch trim in the new "Warm gray" color, an upgraded car key, makeup mirror in the rear on the long version, dampers optimized for low-friction, ceramic brakes (front) on the Phaeton W12 as well as a rearview camera (Rear Assist).

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Redesigned user interface for climate control and infotainment

The most in-depth revision on the current Phaeton is its completely new center console design. A key component here: the new standard RCD 810 infotainment system (radio variant) and the RNS 810 (optional navigation system variant) with central 8-inch touchscreen, also new.

To integrate the Phaeton's new infotainment systems in a style that is as balanced as the prior model's solution, the center console was fully redesigned. This also involved changing controls of the four-zone automatic climate control system (Climatronic): the temperature is now set by a dial and continuously shown on a digital display above the control panel. The keys and controls for operating the climate control system and individual ventilation functions were also redesigned. The entire climate control panel – intuitive and easy to read – is now located beneath the infotainment system. Before it was integrated above the system monitor.

Also redesigned was the central color display in the instrument cluster between the speedometer and tachometer. The multifunctional steering wheel can be used to control numerous functions in the Phaeton, and important information and instructions can be viewed there.

RCD 810 and RNS 810 in detail

The RCD 810 and RNS 810 infotainment systems were redesigned for the Phaeton with high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen in 16:9 format. Consider the RNS 810: it 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 equalization.

New V6 FSI; Euro-5 standard thoroughly satisfied

A new V6 gasoline engine being used in the new Phaeton is an FSI engine (direct gasoline injection) with 3.6 liter displacement and 206 kW / 280 PS. It replaces the 3.2 liter V6 with 177 kW / 241 PS. The smooth FSI develops a maximum torque of 360 Newton-meters that is constantly available between 2,500 and 5,000 rpm and guarantees impressive high-torque performance. The maximum power of the twenty-four valve six-cylinder engine is available at 6,250 rpm.

Powered in this way, the luxury class sedan with 6-speed automatic, 4Motion all-wheel drive and an electronically controlled air suspension impresses with its agile driving performance. The Phaeton V6 FSI reaches the 100 km/h mark from a stop in 8.6 seconds, and its top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. The car's average fuel consumption is 11.7 liters Super per 100 kilometers. It was possible to lower CO2 emissions from 288 g/km to 273 g/km.

Besides the new 3.6 liter FSI, the two even more powerful V8 and W12 gasoline engines with 246 kW / 335 PS and 331 kW / 450 PS, respectively, now fulfill the Euro-5 emissions standard that takes effect in September 2009. The especially fuel efficient V6 TDI with its 3.0 liter displacement and common rail direct injection (171 kW / 233 PS) was one of the first engines in the world to conform to this standard at the beginning of 2007. On average, the 239 km/h fast Phaeton V6 TDI consumes just 9.0 liters of diesel per hundred kilometers.

Phaeton considered one of the best sedans in the world

Since its market introduction, many aspects of the Phaeton have been further developed. The level of technology and the quality offered on the large Volkswagen are generally considered the best that car-making has to offer worldwide. Just recently in October the German Gesellschaft für Technische Überwachung (GTÜ; German Society for Technical Inspection) rated older vehicles in the model series too as having above-average quality. In the high-end and luxury class, the older Phaetons – up to three, four and five years in age – exhibited the fewest defects in the entire competitive field.

In 2007, the model went through an extensive facelift. Besides making visual touch-ups to the impressive classic body – which were intentionally restrained – innovative technologies were added, which more than ever have made the Phaeton one of the best long-distance sedans. Technical innovations on the Phaeton include Front Assist that reduces braking distance and was integrated in the adaptive cruise control (ACC) and the Side Assist lane changing assistant. In addition, a new tire pressure monitoring system offers an even higher standard of safety and operating convenience.

Front Assist in detail

The braking distance reducing Front Assist is part of adaptive cruise control (ACC). ACC relieves the driver of active braking and acceleration tasks. And this enhances driving convenience – especially on longer freeway drives. Simultaneously, it prevents the distance to the next vehicle from dropping below the legally prescribed minimum gap.

Front Assist goes one step further: the purpose of this ACC extension is to help prevent front-end collisions. The system uses a radar sensor to monitor the distance to vehicles in traffic ahead of the Phaeton. When this distance is too short, the driver is informed in two stages. Simultaneously, the vehicle is prepared for possible hard braking by the driver. In advance of certain situations, Front Assist preventively puts the brakes in a preconditioned status, which otherwise would not happen until the brake pedal is actuated. So the new system acts as a braking distance reduction system (AWV).

As part of adaptive cruise control, the system is operated by dedicated keys on the multifunctional steering wheel. For the most part, its operation is similar to control by the cruise control system (GRA). When ACC is activated, the sedan automatically brakes (if necessary to a full stop) and accelerates within a speed range the driver inputs beforehand.

ACC may be activated within a vehicle speed range between 30 and 200 km/h. The system uses radar to acquire traffic over an angle of 12 degrees and up to 200 meters in front of the Phaeton. An ON/OFF switch on the left side of the multifunctional steering wheel is used to activate or deactivate ACC. Furthermore, all driver assistance systems – including ACC – may be activated or deactivated simultaneously by a central pushbutton on the turn signal stalk; the button must be held in a pressed position longer than one second. In addition, ACC is temporarily deactivated as soon as the driver actuates the brake pedal.

Basic information on adaptive cruise control can be read off the screen of the multifunctional display, quickly and conveniently. Besides the activation state, it also displays the preset target speed, target and actual gap distances (5-stage control) or an "acquired object" in front of the Volkswagen detected by radar.

In some driving situations, it is also necessary to brake the Phaeton manually to maintain an adequate safe distance to the vehicle ahead or to avoid a frontal collision in extreme situations. When adaptive cruise control (ACC) detects that the safe distance cannot be maintained, because its deceleration – legally restricted to 0.4g – is inadequate, the system asks the driver to resume manual control. This is done by optical and acoustic warning.

Side Assist in detail

Another assistance system in the Phaeton is the lane changing assistant (Side Assist). Starting at 60 km/h, this system monitors the area in back of and next to the Phaeton via radar sensors in the rear bumper (one sensor for the area to the left of the vehicle, and one for the right) and signals a potential risk of collision via a warning lamp in the rearview mirror housing. The monitoring range of the sensor spans a distance of about 50 meters to the rear and 3.60 meters to the sides of the sedan.

If Side Assist detects a critical situation to the left or right of the Phaeton, the warning lamp in the mirror housing lights to indicate the special traffic situation – provided that the driver has not set the turn signal to indicate a lane change. However, if the driver activates the turn signal for turning into an occupied adjacent traffic lane, the lamp makes the driver aware of the potential hazard by quickly flashing four times. The brightness of the warning lamps can be controlled over five stages from the multifunctional display. Interesting networking of systems: the momentary ambient light level detected by the sensor for the rain and light detection function automatically flows into calculations of lighting intensity.

Two control modules are responsible for Side Assist functionality. One of them (Master) sets the tone. The Master control module and right-side radar sensor form one unit, the second control module (Slave) meanwhile is associated with the left sensor. The Master and Slave control modules are identical in their layout. The main component of each module is an electronic PC-board with a digital signal processor as the central computing unit. One of its functions is to acquire and track objects detected by sensors. The control modules themselves are located in the rear bumper, on the left and right, i.e. in the immediate vicinity of the radar sensors. By the way, "radar" stands for "Radio Detection And Ranging" – target detection and ranging by electromagnetic waves.

All-wheel drive and air suspension are standard

The driver assistance systems supplement the Phaeton's extraordinarily large potential for safety and comfort. Background: All versions of the sedan have the combination of all-wheel drive & air suspension as standard equipment. Consider the all-wheel drive: behind the 4Motion label is a system that – besides offering excellent dynamic response and ride comfort properties – also guarantees a maximum of active safety even under the harshest driving conditions. Consider the 4-corner air suspension with continuously adjustable damper control (CDC): it perfects comfort on all roads and enables lowering of the car body starting at a vehicle speed of 140 km/h. That optimizes driving properties and reduces average fuel consumption.

So the latest version of the Phaeton too – equipped with standard 12-way power front seats (or 18-way depending on the version) – can be highly recommended as an impressive, comfortable and safe cruiser for long distances and a stress-free zone between the meetings of a fully scheduled day.

The specialists at Volkswagen Individual can further refine the Phaeton's equipment very specifically. Features covered by Phaeton individualization include the "Sensitive Classic Style" leather interior in specially developed colors and color combinations, an "Alcantara package", a wide variety of interior accents, the "high-end multimedia system" with LCD monitors on the backs of the front seat headrests, a refrigerator in the rear and many types of alloy wheels such as the 19-inch "Omanyt" wheels. Furthermore, the Phaeton is offered in 4 and 5 seat interior versions as well as with an optional extended wheelbase.