VW takes forbidden-fruit route with China-only Phideon debut

This full-size luxury barge could very well presage the next coming of Phaeton.

Sedans

Phideon has one of the strongest character lines we've ever seen. It's like the Marianas Trench, for Pete's sake.

Volkswagen

Being in Geneva, it's expected that its auto show caters to more than just the American market, although many cars shown here will eventually come our way. But Europe and the US aren't the only two players in the game -- China is still making waves with its purchasing power, and Volkswagen's rolling out a car just for the Middle Kingdom.

The Phideon is a full-size luxury car aimed squarely at the Chinese market. So much so, in fact, that Volkswagen's email to us regarding Phideon said, "[The car] will not be coming to the US. Like, never, ever." But it's still important, because Volkswagen also said that Phideon's design language will presage future design for top-tier sedans, which likely includes the Phaeton's successor.

Developed in Germany, Phideon will hit China with two gas engine choices to start, with a plug-in hybrid coming later on. Debuting first is the flagship gas offering, with 296 horsepower and all-wheel drive. A front-wheel drive variant is in the cards, as well. It's Volkswagen's first car on its new MLB platform, which will later underpin other vehicles with longitudinally mounted engines.

Volkswagen

The styling borrows its brow-heavy front end from the new Passat, but it's packing one of the strongest character lines we've ever seen -- it almost looks like someone walked past the car with an angle grinder and just sliced away a part of it. VW didn't include any pictures of the interior, but given that China adores big back seats, it's safe to say that there's a limo-like experience lying in wait.

Naturally, the Phideon is loaded with technology, safety and otherwise. It's packing LED headlights and tail lights, and its infotainment system carries Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity. Active safety tech abounds, and it includes a semi-autonomous lane-change assist, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise and automatic high beams.

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