New versions of the Rolls-Royce Phantom don’t appear very often, so the fuss is completely acceptable and understandable. The original Phantom was introduced in 1925, and Rolls-Royce claims that makes it the longest-lives model name in automotive history. Actually, there are some gaps between generations, but this new 8th generation is directly replacing the current car, which was the first BMW-developed Rolls-Royce.
The new Phantom sits on Rolls-Royce’s new aluminum spaceframe platform, the Architecture of Luxury, which will cover all of the company’s forthcoming models, including the Project Cullinan SUV. The 140-inch wheelbase is slightly smaller than the previous car’s, and the overall length of 227.2 inches actually has shrunk by 2.8 inches for the standard-wheelbase version. Suspension elements are mostly aluminum, with electrically controlled air springs, active anti-roll bars and adaptive dampers delivering what Rolls-Royce describes as its Magic Carpet Ride. It uses a road-scanning camera system to prepare for bumps before they reach the wheels.
The external style has changed gently: the new car is less slab-sided that its predecessor and has what we can call a waft line running along the base of the doors. The stainless-steel grille is taller now, while the overall proportions remain the same (including enormous C-pillars and rear-hinged rear coach doors). The standard wheels will be 21 inches in diameter. Details include headlamps with frosted-glass internal elements and laser main beams that are claimed to have a range of 650 yards. The new Phantom is being considered the quietest car in the world, due to new equipment developed by the company which includes the new Silent Seal tires – a layer of foam inside the tires that reduces overall tire noise by nine decibels.
The new Phantom’s statistics are breathtaking. Power comes from a new twin-turbocharged V-12 that has been derived from the 6.6-liter unit fitted to the more popular Wraith, Ghost and Dawn displaces, according to the company’s history. While the peak output of 563 horsepower is the same as its siblings, torque output rises substantially – to 664 lb-ft, available from 1700 rpm. That means the Phantom is more powerful than its predecessor. Torque is directed exclusively to the rear via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission that is connected electronically to a geolocation system to help it choose appropriate gears. Top speed is 155 mph but the car is capable of much more. A prototype has reached 186 mph during tests in Italy.
Rolls-Royce vehicles have always been designed from the back seat forward, and even though we’re told that the new Phantom has been designed to offer a sharper dynamic experience, most owners are likely to experience it from the rear rather than the front. The cabin retains many traditional touches, including rotary controls for the heating and ventilation system. The most interesting feature is a toughened glass panel spanning the top of the dashboard and instrument panel.
The rear portion of the cabin is more conventional. There are still folding wooden picnic tables, although they are now power operated, and 12.0-inch display screens for rear passengers are integrated into the rears of the front seats. Every nonglazed surface is basically covered in leather, wood or ankle-deep carpeting. As usual, the range of customizations is huge, it all depends on the buyer’s taste. Prices haven’t been confirmed yet.