The poor-selling, anonymous-looking, and under-appreciated VW Phaeton contains two miles of wiring. Two miles. The top of the line W12 version has 140 buttons and knobs. The giant sedan has a mind-boggling volume of features and after five months of ownership of a low mileage 2005 V8 model, I am still learning something new on a regular basis. Here are just a few examples of the car’s standard equipment.
1. Two batteries, one explosive. The sedan is equipped with two batteries in the trunk. One is for starting, the other is for the accessories. If the starter battery is dead, the accessories battery will take over to start the car. At temperatures below 50 degrees F, the batteries will work in tandem to start the car. And finally, if the car is in a crash and one or more airbags are deployed, an explosive charge will detonate and disconnect the starter battery.
2. Anti-glare instrument cluster glass. While driving, a person processes on average eight sensations per second. We sometimes spend an extra fraction of a second looking at the instrument cluster due to glare from the cluster’s glass. You see, the average instrument cluster glass reflects light at 8%. But the Phaeton’s Conturan glass reflects only 0.5% of the light. Normal glass is etched to reduce reflection, but the trade-off is a drop in transparency. Conturan glass instead has three thin (1/100,000,000th of a millimeter) metal oxide coatings on each side to reduce glare.
3. Tailored air for four. 25 servomotors help create four distinct microclimates of between 64 and 82 degrees F inside the car.
4. Deafening silence. To keep the interior quiet, the windows are double paned and the exterior panel gaps are three millimeters wide to reduce wind noise.
5. Wipers, wipers, and nozzles. First, when in wash mode, the wipers will sweep three times, pause for a few seconds, and sweep one last time to pick up any leftover fluids. Second, when the wipers come to rest, they adjust their resting angle every other time to prevent premature blade wear. Finally, when the headlight washers are activated, the nozzles operate one side at a time so as to not compromise visibility.
6. Engine vibration dampeners. From a book that came with my Phaeton: “Two hydraulically dampened engine mounts reduce the transmission of engine vibration to the passenger compartment. At idle, a pneumatically actuated solenoid allows engine vacuum to pull a positioning spring in the engine mount down, allowing the easier transfer of a glycol mixture through the mount, which softens the mount and reduces the transmission of engine vibration. At a speed of about 3 mph, the engine-control unit cuts off current to the solenoid valve, closing the hydraulic connecting channel between the two chambers. Now, the exchange of hydraulic fluid is through a smaller spiral-shaped channel, thus making the engine mounts firmer.”
Images source: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Jim Yu