To mark the Phaeton's 20th anniversary, Volkswagen is taking us by surprise by releasing images of what was supposed to be its direct successor. It never happened, mainly because the electrification push in the wake of the messy Dieselgate prompted the higher-ups to change the company's priorities and go all-in on EVs. Consequently, the fullsize luxury sedan was left on the cutting room floor to focus on what was to become the MEB platform.
The peeps from Wolfsburg are now reminiscing about how the second-generation Phaeton was actually quite close to hitting the assembly line. Shown here is a fully running one-off prototype you could easily believe it's a production car. The stately saloon adopted VW's typically restrained design with a chrome grille flanked by headlights similar to those of the current Touareg.
At the back, the taillights are sending out a Skoda Superb vibe, which isn't all that surprising since the aborted Phaeton was designed by Jozef Kabaň who penned the Czech range topper. The wide chrome bar creates a visual connection between the taillights in the same vein as on the facelifted Superb. Generous exhaust finishers similar to those of the Arteon are connected to a dual exhaust setup hinting at a potent powertrain.
Long doors provide access to a posh cabin with ample legroom in the back where individual seats are separated by a wide center console. The latter hosts a detachable tablet as well as the switches for seat adjustments. VW generously used wood and leather throughout the interior along with fitting a dual-pane sunroof and a rear-seat entertainment system.
The dashboard should look familiar since it's largely the same one used in the current Touareg with its so-called Innovision Cockpit. A closer look at the lower center console shows a similar placement of the gear lever, cup holders, and switchgear. The frameless rearview mirror, leather-wrapped dashboard, and metallic accents added sophistication to the Phaeton’s cabin but without looking as fancy as an Audi A8's interior.
Much like the Touareg on sale today, the car was supposed to ride on the MLB Evo platform that has underpinned the A8 as well as other big VAG models. It's worth noting the core VW brand does have a large sedan riding on this architecture as the China-only Phideon is considered to be the Phaeton's spiritual successor.
Now that VW has decided to show the Phaeton that never was, perhaps it's time for Jaguar to do the same with its aborted XJ?