The secret is out! Volkswagen's stunning D1 concept is to be named the Phaeton when it goes on sale in the UK late next year. Billed as the world's most revolutionary flagship saloon, the new car is charged with redefining the whole luxury sector – a massive task for a manufacturer not known for its prestige models.
The name is equally as inventive. Taken from Greek mythology, it marks a clear change from titles such as the Golf and Polo. But that's exactly what VW wants – after all, this car will lead the company into battle with executive experts such as Mercedes and BMW.
Seen here in showroom-ready trim, the Phaeton looks every inch a contender. While far from radical, it's an impressive first attempt at luring high-flying executives into VW dealerships.
But if the idea of another worthy and reliable VW turns you off completely, it's worth noting that it's the interior where the shake-up takes place. The cabin is as lavish as any rival's. It breaks from the tradition of smart plastic established by the likes of the Golf, opting instead for wood, aluminium and a finish that makes the Phaeton's trim the most tactile the firm has ever produced. What's more, the car's interior is expected to offer at least as much space and comfort as the Mercedes S-Class.
Critical to the VW's credibility in the executive market will be the engine line-up – and it won't disappoint the most demanding of drivers. There will be two stars, one petrol and one diesel. Flagship of the range will be the W12, a relatively compact 6.0-litre 12-cylinder petrol unit producing an awesome 420bhp. Mated to a four-wheel-drive system and five-speed Tiptronic automatic box, it will aim to outperform all of Mercedes' models. The top oil-burner will be a V10 5.0-litre unit that will offer 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds and a 155mph top speed.
The entry-level car will be powered by a 241bhp 3.2-litre V6. It will offer a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes, and bosses predict that this model will be the big seller. A smaller V8 diesel is also expected, with around 200bhp and 450Nm of torque on tap.