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Spy Shots: 2009 Volkswagen Phaeton Coupe

David AxbergwriterHans G Lehmannphotographers

It appears that Volkswagen is a glutton for punishment, as a test mule for the next Phaeton has been spotted running around. We're frankly surprised that the automaker is attempting a second round for the car at all, considering the pitiful sales of the first generation car. Nevertheless, VW is not only trying again, but they are expanding the model line to include a large coupe with folding hardtop, a la Mercedes-Benz SL.

Some say the new ber VW will share underpinnings with the upcoming Porsche Panamera supersedan (coverage elsewhere in this feature). Others, however, are convinced that platform bits will be the same as the next Audi A6 and A8. Either way, the quality or source of the platform for the car itself isn't likely to be the biggest hurdle facing Vee Dub: it will be figuring out how to convince potential buyers to spend big money on a luxury car with a badge also found on economy cars.

They'll have to do it with styling. Yes, the car will have to be good to drive and a strong value - and there's no indication it won't be. But above those things, it has to be absolutely unbelievably beautiful to look at. It has to be seductive. It needs to cast a tractor beam onto people and bring them to the showroom by being so exquisite that they couldn't care less if they were walking into a Daewoo dealership to get it.

The picture above is an artist's rendering of what the coupe may look like. While the rendering shows a decent looking machine, it is not a complete knockout. It's an oversized Eos. Let's hope for the company's sake that they can come up with something better.