Volkswagen Phaeton – An Understated and Compellingly Quiet Luxury Car Experience


VW Phaeton

Looking at the premiumness of the brand image, most people would choose a Mercedes, Audi or BMW over a Volkswagen anytime. VW just doesn’t ring that well when considering luxury makes. But if you are in the market for a large prestige vehicle that is very quiet, and you want a somewhat lower price tag as well as a more understated ride, I would recommend you to at least give the Volkswagen flagship model – the VW Phaeton – a decent chance.

I have test driven it and found it to be very quiet inside the cabin. A great plus is that the windows are not just reinforced by being laminated, but they are actually of extra thick glass which makes for excellent soundproofing.

When I drove the Phaeton at higher speeds on the extremely rough Swedish roads, the cabin noise did however increase quite a bit. This was most likely due to the wheels having been 19-inch with inadequate rubber between the rims and the road. If you are interested in getting a Phaeton and you value a quiet car, then go for 17-inch wheels – that’s the smalles possible tires on most Phaeton’s.

There is one type of Phaeton for which I discovered that it’s probably possible to mount 16-inch wheels, i.e. on the VW Phaeton V6 3.2 gas/petrol, 2-wheel drive of MY02-04. 16-inch wheels aren’t pretty, but for minimization of noise, the smaller wheels the better. Most drivers, however, will surely be satisfied with the interior noise nevel when using 17-inch wheels.

To show you just how quiet the Phaeton actually is, I retrieved some noise measurements made by the German automotive magazine auto, motor und sport back in 2002-05.

See in the table below a comparison between the VW Phaeton (W12), Mercedes S Class (S500) and Maybach (62). The Phaeton came out as the quietest vehicle out of the three.

Noise level in decibels (dBA) at different speedsMercedes S500Phaeton W12Maybach 62
80 km/h575554
100 km/h605960
130 km/h666364
140 km/h676565
160 km/h706868
180 km/h727071
Issue of German Auto, Motor und Sport23/0515/0214/03

The Phaeton stands out as an, in many ways, undervalued car due to its less shiny badge. But give it a shot and see for yourself if it manages to sweep you off your feet.

To learn more about cars and sound/noise, get your copy of the Quiet Cars eBook – Your Guide to a Quieter Ride – plus join the Quiet Cars online community.

Quiet Cars - An Introductory Guide to a Quieter Ride (eBook and online community)