GRR

The new Rolls-Royce Phantom has arrived

26th July 2017
Bob Murray

Luxury icon, ultimate automotive status symbol, most people’s idea of the best car in the world…what else but the Rolls-Royce Phantom? And from today there is a new one, the eighth generation model 92 years after the first. The world’s movers and shakers have a new poster car…

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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.

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5. It comes with its own Flagbearer
No, you don’t get a man with a red flag to walk in front of you. You do get a stereo camera system integrated into the windscreen to keep a look out for lumps and bumps in the road. This allows the suspension settings to be proactively tailored to give the smoothest ride. Also helping in the ride department are a new double-wishbone front axle, new five-link rear axle, 22-inch wheels and air suspension, with an advanced electronic chassis control system. It adds up to  “optimal vibration comfort performance” – otherwise known as best-in-class ride comfort.

6. All four wheels steer
Four-wheel steering is flavour of the month with the auto industry and Rolls-Royce uses it here for the first time on the Phantom to enhance stability and agility. Will it make it handle like a sports car? Probably not quite 

7. The heat is on
Areas inside the Phantom that are heated comprise: the front door armrests, front centre console lid, lower C-pillar, rear side armrests and rear centre armrest. And of course the seats. Oh, and there’s a heater…

8. Picnic, drink or watch a movie?
The back-seat area – familiar territory for most owners – gets a luxury makeover with a new centre console which incorporates a drinks cabinet with whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and coolbox. Electrically deployed picnic tables and grandly-named Rear Theatre Monitors appear out of the backs of the front seats. Accommodation in the rear is available in different configurations: lounge seat, individual seats or a sleeping seat. All the seats are subtly angled so occupants are able to talk to each other without straining their necks, says R-R. And if not in the mood for chatting? Gaze upwards and get lost in a thousand twinkling stars of the largest Starlight Headliner Rolls-Royce has ever made.

9. Everyone will know it’s you 
Phantoms are not for retiring types and the new one advertises its arrival with traffic-parting road presence. Heads will swivel and mouths drop open when you pass by. Never have a short front overhang, long rear overhang, wide C-pillars, perpendicular front and flowing rear end looked so good on a car. For all its new design modernity – examples are the grille integrated into the bodywork for the first time and the new laser lights – here is a Rolls-Royce as grand as any, with the Spirit of Ecstasy apparently standing taller than ever. Actually it is taller than ever, by half an inch.

10. And finally… you can still hear the clock ticking!
Behind the glass-fronted “gallery” dashboard with its art and digital dials is… an analogue clock. Still the loudest sound in a Rolls-Royce? We can’t wait to find out…

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