Volkswagen's first foray into the high-end luxury market, the Phaeton, wasn't exactly a success. Who would want a limousine from a brand with a name that literally translates to "People's Car"? Well, VW is hoping China wants that limousine, having used the Geneva Motor Show to launch the Phideon.
One look at the Phideon's exterior is all it takes to see that Volkswagen is serious about cleaning up in China. It's huge, measuring up at 5.05 meters (16.57 ft) long, 1.87 meters (6.1 ft) wide and 1.48 meters (4.86 ft) tall. What's more, the car's bluff nose and big headlamps are at odds with the subtle, restrained looks that Volkswagen has made its trademark in recent times.
We finally get to see some of VW's concept car styling spring to life, with the strong side crease and graphics from the Cross Coupe series of concepts making an appearance.
This departure from the design norm is because, technically, this isn't a normal European Volkswagen. The Phideon was actually designed in collaboration with SAIC Volkswagen in China, to make sure it appeals to exactly what Chinese buyers really want. The car will also be built by SAIC, in yet another nod to how important China is becoming to the world's car manufacturers.
Under the hood, the options are typically European VW. The range kicks off with a four cylinder, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine powering the front wheels, but we'd be skipping over that and jumping straight to the 220 kW (296 hp), 440 Nm 3.0-liter V6. Partially that's because more power is always a good thing, but mostly because the more powerful car is fitted with 4MOTION all-wheel drive, which is more befitting a limousine for people who want to prove they've made it. VW also says there will be a hybrid option, although there's no word about range, power or fuel economy.
Inside, the focus is on rear seat passengers because in China, the people who matter want to be driven. Both the front and rear seats can be electrically adjusted, and they have built-in ventilation and massage functions, similar to the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series.
The car sits on air suspension, and the doors are fitted with a soft close function. After all, you don't want to feel bumps on the road, nor do you want to feel a bump as the doors close. The convenience features extend beyond soft closing doors to include self dipping headlamps, lane keeping assist and a camera-based night vision system that is new to Volkswagen.
VW has said the car will launch in the third quarter of 2016, but hasn't announced a price, nor indicated whether it will ever be sold outside China.