I craved this car for months, shopped for 6 months, and found a great deal, with remaining CPO warranty. The car is a dream to drive, and the ride unimaginably good. However, you learn that this is a finicky monster to maintain properly. The tires wore quickly because the alignment went out, and there are few places that no how to align it. Without a long term warranty? A transmission is 10K, and the wrong transmission fluid was spec'd when new. The speaker wires break. The regulators in the doors go bad starting at 60,000 miles. This is a car for people with money to burn, and two cars to drive. Oh yeah, the build quality is the burden of ownership, maintaining the dream.
I purchased a used, certified model with 60,000 miles from a VW dealer. The superb materials and build quality make it seem hardly used. The buttons, carpets, leather surfaces, chrome, liners, etc all look new. The paint deserves special mention. My silver reflex paint scheme is beautiful. The car is comfortable, with ample room inside, especially the back seat area. The air suspension is sublime. This is the car to have on long trips. This car is truly exclusive, as less than 3,500 Phaetons were imported into the US. Thankfully the Phaeton remains in production, and obtaining parts is not a problem. Servicing by VW is a must. Recommend purchasing an extended warranty.
I've had the car for about a year now. Overall, this is a extremely competent luxury car. Good acceleration (not a burner, but fast enough), very smooth & quiet. The exterior is understated (which suits me just fine) & the interior is one of the best I've seen (especially on an 04 car). Good attention to detail all around. The only drawbacks I can mention is Service & some reliability issues (mostly electrical gremlins - which aren't uncommon in high end luxury cars). Combining the electrical issues w/ the fact VW technicians have little experience w/ the car can make service an exercise in trial & error & very costly if not covered under warranty(mine didn't cover much)
I've always wondered what it would be like to own a Bentley Continental Flying Spur. However, the price of a decent used one, currently around $65K is out of my budget. I knew the VW Phaeton was basically the same car minus the turbochargers. After shopping for a few months, I won the bid on eBay for a low mileage V8 model Phaeton at $11,800.
My previous daily driver was a 1993 Mercedes 300CE cabriolet. The Phaeton is equal in build quality, more comfortable, has better audio, and handles better despite weighing 1,000 pounds more. The only drawback is gas mileage, which is about 4 MPG less than the Benz.
The only modification I've made is adding Bluetooth capability.
Updated on 1 June 2016
We've been using this VW as a daily driver for a year and 16,000 miles. Total mileage is now about 84,000. The only thing that broke in that period was the driver side rear window regulator. One of the the front passenger side upper control arm bushings wore out. Both items were fixed under the extended warranty. The car was in the VW shop for 3 days, mainly waiting for the warranty company (Solace) to provide the new control arms. The TPMS put up a "Flat Tyre" warning due to a nail and a screw in a rear tire. Tire was repaired and the TPMS went back to normal. If the spare tire is not kept fully pumped up, TPMS becomes unhappy.
Looks like the 20-inch, 40 Series tires will be worn out in another 8,000 miles. That will yield less than 30,000 miles on this set.
We're still very happy with this Phaeton.
I happened to stumble upon this vehicle by chance and am very happy for the outcome. I am very impressed by the engine build, interior comfort and subdued exterior design - not into the 'prestige vehicle' badges. This car isn't prestige at all, and that's a good thing. Fuel economy could improve but compared to some 4cyl turbos out there it isn't much of a difference. In fact some V6s out there have the same fuel economy as the V8 Phaeton. Personally I would NOT recommend the W12 Phaeton with 12cyl.