And it looks pretty much like the old one. But to say the new glory from Goodwood doesn’t appear hugely different from the Phantom VII – the car which the BMW Group used to relaunch the brand from its new Sussex base in 2003 – is undoubtedly to sell it short. The evolutionary design belies plenty of change inside the car and under its all-new skin.
For example, the familiar and imposing but now rather more cohesive design cloaks a new aluminium spaceframe – it’s light and stiff and, Rolls-Royce asserts, a bespoke solution a long way from your common-or-garden monocoque of most cars. This scaleable new architecture is to form the basis of all new Rolls-Royces including the soon-arriving Cullinan SUV.
And while the engine sounds familiar – 6.75-litre V12 – it is a new twin-turbo version with 100 more horsepower than before, at 563bhp. There is also more torque (now 664 lb ft) peaking at half the revs it used to (now 1700rpm). Wafting, Phantom-style, will never have been so effortless, even without the hybridised emissions-free electric side the car – for now – does without.
0-60? Mpg? Dimensions? Price? No, not yet. They are all academic anyway. None of these things has been lacking in the past and rest assured the new car will be sufficiently fast, thirsty, huge and expensive. What owners really want to see in their new Phantom is more individuality, technology and bespoke luxury, and it is in these areas that Phantom VIII really goes to town…
Here then is GRR’s 10-point owner’s guide to the new Rolls-Royce…
1. You can commission your own artwork for the dashboard
The front facia can show your favourite work of art. R-R calls it the “gallery”. You can choose an artwork they made earlier – in silk, wood, metal or leather – or work with R-R craftspeople and your favourite artist or designer to create something totally unique to sit behind a toughened glass panel that runs the full width of the dash area. Stumped for an idea? R-R has some suggestions: an oil painting inspired by the South Downs by Chinese artist Lian Yangwei; a gold-plated 3D-printed map of an owner’s DNA by Thorsten Franck; hand-made porcelain roses or an abstract design in silk by young British artist Helen Amy Murray.
2. The virtual dials have chrome bezels
New tech – in the form of all-digital instruments – nods to tradition by having each virtual dial, with its virtual needle, encircled by a very real chrome rim. All driver (or chauffeur…) information, presented on a 12.3 inch TFT colour display behind the steering wheel, is said to have been designed for maximum clarity in response to requests from owners of the previous Phantom. Overall the dash is a lot less busy inside than before – but there’s still a place for the organ-stop air vent knobs.
3. The doors close automatically
They are coach doors of course and all any one of them needs to close is a touch on a sensor on the door handle. They can be effortlessly shut from either outside or inside. And the door handles? They are new hand-polished stainless steel affairs, so nice to touch says Rolls-Royce that they are “key to the owner’s everyday physical experience of their motor car.”
4. It’s even quieter than before
According to Rolls-Royce, “incalculable” effort was put in to make the new Phantom the world’s quietest car. The company says it is approximately 10 per cent quieter than its predecessor at 62mph. 6mm double glazing all around the car is fitted and double-skin alloy is used on parts of the floor and bulkhead. There’s even a foam layer inside the tyres which is said to reduce tyre noise by 9dB.