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Luxury car by Volkswagen

In Japan, you can buy a Toyota luxury sedan called the Century. It features a 48-valve 12-cylinder engine, an air suspension, and Magic Fingers vibrating seats. We asked why the Century was sold nowhere but Japan. "Because, " explained Engine magazine editor Masafumi Suzuki, "no one but us would admit to driving an $85, 500 Toyota."

In America, you can buy a Volkswagen luxury sedan called the Phaeton W-12. It features a 48-valve 12-cylinder engine, an air suspension, and Magic Fingers vibrating seats. Purchase the automobile depicted here and there will come a time, like it or not, when your neighbor asks, "Hey, what kind of new car did you buy?" You're going to have to look him in the eye and say, "Well, I bought a $91, 415 Volkswagen."

Before the poleaxed expression departs his face, you might add, "But, hey, my VW shares its platform with the Bentley Continental GT." If he still looks as if he might momentarily laugh so hard that fluid exits one or more nostrils, flip him your car's keys. First thing he'll do is start this VW and not realize it's running-yes, it's that silent, with no telltale vibration thrumming up through the steering column. The engine at idle sounds like the low-speed fan on a Cadillac Seville, which, by the way, this VW exceeds in length.

What will happen next is that your neighbor will come close to breaking the speed limit by the time he reaches the end of your driveway. Not because the Phaeton W-12 is a hot rod-although 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds is impressive for anything weighing 5436 pounds-but because it attains illegal speeds as if by magic. There is no chirp at launch, thanks in part to 4MOTION all-wheel drive. And the 6.0-liter W-12-essentially two narrow-angle V-6s attached to a common crankcase at 72 degrees-delivers its 420 horses with electric-motor-like smoothness, emitting only the serene whoosh of a jet four miles overhead. You're just wafted to colossal speeds, with 6000-rpm WOT upshifts clicking past as imperceptibly and silently as mile markers. The quarter-mile vanishes in 14.0 seconds, 1.1 second quicker than an eight-cylinder Phaeton we tested last December. There's so little drama involved, so little head snap, so few clues suggesting vehicular strain or stress, that a back-seat mother-in-law will remain blissful right through her weekly harangue about your apparent inability to afford an Audi.

Mercedes wallpapers all models.
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