Volkswagen’s Split Personality: Jetta Gets a Lower Price While Phaeton May Return

2011 Volkswagen Jetta

In one corner, we have the newly unveiled Volkswagen Jetta, rumored to start at about $16,000.

In the other corner, we have the elaborately understated $70,000-ish VW Phaeton, rumored to be on its way back to the States.

We all know Volkswagen wants to be the largest automaker in the world, but come on. Offering both of these cars under the same badge will only pull the brand in opposite directions, ultimately resulting in the death of one of them. It’s pretty easy to predict which car will die.

The sixth-generation Jetta finally has an all-new platform, rather than simply relying on Golf architecture. The car is 3.5 inches longer than the previous version, which means more passenger room. There aren’t any changes under the hood, though, with the familiar 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder, 2.0-liter turbocharged four, and 2.0-liter turbodiesel carried over from the current car.

If VW does price the base model at $16K, it’ll come in below the Chevy (excuse me, Chevrolet) Cruze‘s price of $16,995. That’s a pretty direct statement of VW’s intent to fiercely compete in the value family-hauler segment.

Which makes the company’s decision to bring back the Phaeton all the more head-slapping.

Volkswagen PhaetonThe Phaeton’s W12 engine and hand-built goodness are more Audi (or even Bentley) than Volkswagen. Slapping the VW badge on the grille just doesn’t make any sense. I can understand wanting to buy a cheap car that looks expensive, but why buy an expensive car that looks cheap? I’d call that one high-class marketing screwup.

Regardless of what I think, The Truth About Cars says the decision to bring back the Phaeton is a done deal, and all that needs to be decided is the timing.

I’ll go on record as saying this is a bad idea. It’s just not possible for one brand to serve as both an economical choice and an extravagant one. The Volkswagen Group has plenty of brands for extravagance (Audi, Bentley, Porsche…) and should keep VW as the brand that sells $16,000 Jettas.

If the Phaeton comes back, and you had around $70K to drop on a car, would you buy it or something else?

-tgriffith

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1 Comment

  1. The Jetta has been a great car from the beginning. But with it being so large its not the same car anymore, and it doesnt have the vr6 as an optional or standard motor. The vr6 was the best motor for the jetta because it caught the eye of young people from ages 16-25. Now the Phaeton on the other hand is vw’s way of saying “Hey, I can do it to!” Its very elegant in a volkswagon manner. Yea it will probably die out in the future like it has in the past but you gotta give them credit for trying.

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