THE BRIEF was simple: build the best car in the world. For Rolls-Royce’s designers, engineers and fitters, the challenge has been anything but straightforward. Soon, the world’s wealthiest individuals will be able to judge for themselves whether they have been successful, and the new Phantom really is the best car in the world.
Revealed this evening at a glitzy black-tie event on London’s Bond Street, the flagship Rolls-Royce is said to be the most advanced yet, with a new aluminium structure, up-to-the-minute technologies and a new generation of twin-turbo, V12 engine. All owners need add is a driver — called James, naturally.
This is the eighth generation Phantom. It goes on sale later this year, and although they say you can’t afford something if you have to ask the price, this luxury machine is expected to cost from £320,000.
What’s new? It is based on a new spaceframe aluminium platform that will underpin all future Rolls-Royce models, including the Cullinan, the company’s first SUV, that arrives in showrooms next year.
It has much to live up to. Writing for Driving, Jeremy Clarkson described the last Phantom as a towering achievement.
He said: “There’s no sense that you are driving a car. Built from scratch using very few BMW components, it is part magic carpet, part hovercraft, part Miami’s South Beach and all engineering masterpiece. The leather, the silence of the engine, the craftsmanship: it’s all … well, it’s perfect. There’s no other word, really.”
The new Rolls-Royce Phantom is claimed to be 30% more rigid than the platform used for the outgoing car. The company says this allows the air suspension system to work even more effectively, enhancing the car’s famed ‘magic carpet’ ride comfort.
Up to speeds of 62mph, a camera reads the surface of the road ahead and allows the suspension to adjust its settings in anticipation of, for example, a particularly nasty pothole.
Again, the new Phantom is said to be the most silent car in the world – when sat inside, at least. It is packed with more than 130kg worth of sound proofing material, features double glazed windows and the tyres are lined with foam to eliminate reverberation.
How powerful is the new Rolls-Royce Phantom?
Beneath the bonnet is a new generation of V12. Historically, the manufacturer wouldn’t reveal precise performance statistics for its engines. In a sign of changing times, the 6.75-litre unit features two turbochargers, which help deliver 536bhp, and 664 Ib ft of torque at 1,700rpm.
As with the last Phantom, the eight-speed automatic gearbox uses the satellite navigation to read the road ahead and select the appropriate gear for a sharp bend or steep climb.
The car’s technology catches up with industry trends. Safety features such as a driver fatigue alert, panoramic surround view cameras, night vision, active cruise control, collision and pedestrian warning, lane departure warning and lane change monitor help keep Phantom drivers out of trouble.
Other tech includes a WiFi hotspot and laser headlamps which cast light at night up to 600 metres down the road. Some more traditional features, including a drinks cabinet with whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and coolbox, remain.
Customers can choose from a lounge seat in the rear, or individual seats or a new sleeping seat, which reclines further. To help keep a chill at bay, the company has heated more than just the seats; the front door armrests, front centre console lid, rear side armrests and central rear armrest can all be heated. Even the lower part of the rear C-pillar can be warmed for resting weary heads.
The dashboard features a 12.3in TFT secreen, but of more interest is the possibility to have work of art installed in a dedicated area of the dashboard. The company has already commissioned artists to produce oil paintings, a gold-plated 3-D map of an owner’s DNA, abstract silks and porcelain roses.