Imagine if you were told to improve on something that is regarded as the best at what it does, by the world. To make something new without letting go of what the people love. To push limits while having restraint. That’s the challenge that Rolls-Royce had when they had to make a successor to the seventh generation of the Phantom, one that had been in service to the world’s opulent and influential for over a decade.
Well, they are Rolls-Royce, and that’s exactly what they seem to have achieved with the all-new Phantom, the flagship of a brand that sets the benchmark in automotive luxury. While car makers around the globe are opting for economies of scale by sharing adaptive platforms, the big RR came to a contrasting conclusion, that the future of small-volume uber-luxurious cars lies in a dedicated ‘Architecture of Luxury’.
This particular architecture will span the entire Roll-Royce family of cars and future models including the Cullinan and future coachbuilding projects. “Every one of our customers – each a connoisseur of luxury in the extreme – were asking for something more individual to them, not less. We were adamant that that was what they should have” commented Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös.
What is this platform exactly? It’s a new all-aluminium spaceframe that underpins the new Phantom VIII. The ‘architecture of luxury’ has been designed and engineered by Rolls from the scratch, such that it can be scalable to the requirements of future RR models. It’s lighter, stiffer and more rigid, all of which makes for an even more comfortable ride.
Speaking of ride comfort, the new Phantom has self-levelling air suspension with state-of-the-art chassis control systems, and it also features four-wheel steering. The trademark RR Magic Carpet Ride has also been improved as a result of the new architecture.
But as any person who has been in a Rolls-Royce Phantom will tell you, the first thing you notice once inside it is the quietness. The engineers have taken many pains to create “the most silent motor car in the world”, which include 6mm dual-layered glazing all around the car, the largest ever cast aluminium joints for better sound insulation and use of high absorption materials. There is more than 130-kilos worth of sound insulation aboard this vessel to make it 10 per cent quieter than its predecessor at 100kph.
It takes a big motor to power a land-yatch as effortlessly and as smoothlessly as a Rolls-Royce Phantom should. That responsibility in the Phantom VIII rests with an all-new 6.75-litre V12, twin-turbocharged, which makes a healthy 563bhp and 900Nm of twist to offer what Rolls-Royce describe as ‘an unfussed surge of power when one needs to press on’. The drivetrain is married to a ZF 8-speed gearbox which also uses Satelite Aided Transmission to ensure that the driver is prepared for any road situation.
The latest iteration of the best car in the world gets a major tech upgrade too making it most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet. The ‘Electronic Architecture’ for the new Phantom is the largest ever produced by the BMW Group parent company. Some of the driver assistance systems on-board include a 4-camera system with Panoramic View, 360-degree visibility including helicopter view, Night Vision and Vision Assist, collision warning, active cruise control, pedestrian warning and ‘Alertness Assistant’.
The cosmetic changes to the all-new Phantom are subtle but very much present. It’s a cleaner, more restrained design. For the first time ever, the iconic Pantheon grille has been integrated into the bodywork while the new headlamps give it just the right expression of top-of-the-world hierarchy. Much can be said about the flowing lines of the new Rolls-Royce and how they allow the eye to transition from the massive-long bonnet to the now neatly-tapered tail. There’s also a significant amount of hand-polished stainless steel used incorporated in the design, both outside and inside.
Stepping into the new Phantom can be described is an occasion in itself, through those massive coach doors, the suicide-hinges at the back. Gently touch the sensor on the door handle and it closes of its own accord. In the rear, the cocoon of luxury and comfort is called by RR as ‘The Embrace’ which utilises the most precious and contemporary of materials, and the typical comforts of a luxury vehicle. Cleanly and intuitively hidden behind the wood panelling behind the front seats are the picnic tables and screens which electronically deploy and retract. One can spec the Phantom with different seating choices in the rear, including the new sleeping seat. Choose the fixed rear centre console and Rolls incorporates a drinks cabinet with whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and coolbox.
A key element of modern aesthetics inside the new Phantom is ‘The Gallery’, a reinterpretation of the dashboard and instrument panel area. All the elements, the chrome-framed instrument dials and jewellery, are enclosed in toughened glass that runs the full width of the dash. There are also the 12.3-inch TFT colour displays with LED backlighting. The central information screen can be retracted behind the centre stack when not in use.
Rolls-Royce Director of Design, Giles Taylor, explains the real purpose of ‘The Gallery’ to be just that, a gallery. Noticing that art is a binding factor for many of their customers, he was inspired to ‘reinterpret the motor cars’ dashboard from being a dead expanse into a riveting focal point.’ The space in the upper dashboard of the new Phantom can now be used to showcase Bespoke workds of art, adding a new dimension of personalisation for every owner. Customers can choose a favoured artist or designer to work with Rolls-Royce to create an individual work of art that will span the width of ‘The Gallery’, as part of a Bespoke Commission.
Altogether with the new ‘Architecture of Luxury’, ‘The Gallery’, the best-possible materials and class-defining design and engineering, the new Rolls-Royce Phantom has managed to be a fitting successor to be the new world’s leading luxury item and ‘the Best Car in the World’.