A Phaeton kicks off our ‘worth buying’ round-up of Wolfsburg’s weird and wonderful. It’s a first-generation model (2002-10) and a rare example of the V10 diesel, since most remaining cars are 3.0 TDI V6s.
Volkswagen Phaeton 5.0 V10 TDI 4Motion LWB, £4999: The Phaeton was the response of the now late Volkswagen Group boss Ferdinand Piech to Mercedes-Benz parking its new A-Class on his Golf’s neatly trimmed lawn. It had to be good if it was going to take the fight to the mighty S-Class and, to that end, was constructed in a brand-new dedicated factory.
Our find is a 2004/04-registered example with 136,000 miles and full service history. First, we’d want to check that ‘full’ means every service on the button because the Phaeton is a complex beast with the potential to write itself off over the merest thing.
For example, the torque converter relies on regular fluid changes to perform smoothly and the oil cooler radiator needs its fins scrubbing to stop the transmission fluid from overheating. Oil changes prevent the turbo imploding.
There are 63 black boxes, any one of which could throw its toys out. And if the plenum chamber at the foot of the windscreen gets blocked, water falls onto the heater matrix with dire consequences for the electrics located behind the glovebox.
There are two batteries, one to turn the engine and the other to power the electrics. We’d check they’re in good health and, while peering around, inspect the bottoms of the doors for galvanic corrosion. Finally, we’d want to ensure the car’s famous party trick, its motorised ventilation covers, are working because if they aren’t, well, it’s just a big Passat, isn’t it?