The original Phaeton turned out to be a money pit for the Volkswagen Group as analysts estimated the company lost about €28,000 for each car sold. Even so, the German automotive conglomerate originally intended to give the stately saloon a direct successor. However, Dieselgate happened, and many projects were scrapped as VAG decided to channel most of its financial efforts toward what was to become the MEB platform dedicated to electric vehicles.

To celebrate the Phaeton's 20th anniversary, VW released images last week of a fully working prototype. It remained tight-lipped about the technical specifications, only mentioning the car was supposed to sit on the MLB platform like the Touareg large SUV and China-only Phideon flagship saloon. Thankfully, the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport has now managed to obtain more details about the model codenamed D2.

Second-generation Volkswagen Phaeton (canceled)

We get to find out the second-gen Phaeton was engineered exclusively in long-wheelbase form whereas its predecessor was sold in both SWB and LWB flavours. The fullsize luxury saloon stretched at more than 5.3 metres (208.6 inches), which would've made it about as long as the new LWB-only BMW 7 Series. VW had intended to sell the car in the United States as well as in China and South Korea where ample rear legroom is important for people buying chauffeur-driven cars.

Several engines had been envisioned for the new Phaeton, including V6 gasoline and diesel units with 340 and 286 bhp, respectively. There were also plans for a plug-in hybrid powertrain based around a V6 petrol engine for a combined output of 455 bhp. Available for a while in the Touareg, the V8 TDI with a colossal 900 Newton-metres (664 pound-feet) was earmarked for the Euro-spec model.

Of course, the top-sec Phaeton was once again conceived with the majestic W12. In its highest state of tune, the twin-turbo 6.0-litre delivers 650 bhp and 900 Nm (664 lb-ft) in the Bentley Continental GT Speed. Interestingly, AMS goes on to say the PHEV was imagined with inductive charging to juice up the battery pack without using pesky cables.

While the Phaeton D2 was cancelled, VW is still selling the Phideon in China. However, a facelift introduced at the end of 2020 brought a simplified lineup by eliminating the V6 engine, PHEV setup, and all-wheel drive. The luxobarge is currently sold exclusively in front-wheel-drive guise with four-cylinder engines, which wouldn't fly for a global flagship luxury car.