2005 Volkswagen Phaeton v. 2004 Audi A8L

At first glance, you’d be excused thinking that the Volkswagen Phaeton and Audi A8 were the same car underneath. Especially when it came to the D3 chassis, the Audi and Volkswagen shared many styling cues, as well as engines and transmissions. However, the Volkswagen is actually quite different underneath – instead of the typical platform sharing that occurred between Volkswagen and Audi, VAG instead turned towards their upscale brands for the Phaeton. That’s right, underneath the Phaeton is a budget Bentley. You can tell the difference when you step inside, too – back when these were new, a Phaeton showed up at a Winter Driving School I was instructing at. I hopped in the passenger side and shut the door; the sound was a unique sound of sealing the rest of the world out. All of the sudden I swear I could hear my heart beating. It was eerily quiet, as if I had entered a sound booth. It was also eerily competent on the snow and ice in spite of the over 5,000 lb. curb weight. That’s a few hundred pounds north of the Audi A8 even in “L” guise, and it wouldn’t surprise me if 300 lbs of that difference is noise deadening. A generation on, you’re now able to get into a Phaeton or its cousin the Audi A8L for about the same price. Which would you choose?

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