Entering its eighth generation, the new Rolls-Royce Phantom exudes the same sense of tradition and formidability as its predecessors. But it looks like Rolls was also going for something more powerful, more artistic, and dare we say, more modern.
"The need to modernize the Phantom was absolutely clear for us," Rolls-Royce design boss Giles Taylor said at a reveal event. "We wanted to give this car a little more energy."
To that end, the flagship receives evolutionary design updates while staying true to its 92-year history. Rolls raised the grille higher and integrated it into new protruding lines that run across the hood. Making its presence known, the Spirit of Ecstasy sits about half an inch higher, and the headlamps feature a new square-shaped lighting graphic. New lines across the side give the bodywork a more fluid look. The top line begins at the hood and ends just above the door handles, while another fades from in front of the front wheel to just before the back wheel. In the rear, the Phantom reveals its new sloped, coupelike roof and a larger license plate holder. The rectangular taillight graphic nicely complements the lights up front, and 22-inch wheels complete the design.
Under that restyled hood sits a brand-new 6.75-liter V-12 engine with two turbochargers. The engine produces 563 hp, up from 453 hp produced by the naturally aspirated V-12 on the previous Phantom. Torque is 664 lb-ft, instead of 531 lb-ft on the old model. Power is routed through a ZF eight-speed automatic. Accelerating to 62 mph from a standstill takes 5.3 seconds in the short-wheelbase version and 5.4 seconds in the longer model, which weighs a whopping 5,948 pounds unladen.
Even more important, the Phantom sits on a new architecture that will eventually underpin every Rolls-Royce model. That includes the upcoming Project Cullinan "high-sided, all-terrain motor car" as well as the next Ghost, Wraith, Dawn, and future coachbuild projects. Rolls says the all-aluminum spaceframe architecture is about 30 percent more rigid than the Phantom's old platform, and it can accommodate different types of propulsion and the different weight requirements of future new models. The new architecture helps keep weight down and should improve ride comfort, Rolls says.
Also promising increased ride comfort, the new Phantom features the latest-gen air suspension, four-wheel steering, and a new double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear axle. The Phantom is said to be 10 percent quieter than its predecessor while traveling at 62 mph, thanks to better insulation in the form of a new sound absorbing headliner, silent-seal tires with a foam layer placed inside the tire to prevent tire cavity noise, a two-layer glazing around the car, and what Rolls calls the largest ever cast aluminum joints in a body-in-white. Rolls said that after running road and vibration tests on the new Phantom, an acoustics engineer had to check whether the instruments were working correctly because the sound levels were so low.
Everyone assumes the Phantom customer is the passenger rather than the driver. For the chauffeur, closing the doors after letting in a passenger requires a simple tap of a sensor on the exterior door handle. For the convenience of the passenger, the front and rear doors now close from the inside with the push of a button.
Once inside the cabin, the first thing you'll likely notice is the new Gallery, which includes customized artwork set underneath a piece of glass that covers the full width of the dashboard. The best part is you can put in any kind of artwork you'd like. Rolls has already created examples of such art, everything from oil paintings, a collection of porcelain roses, an abstract design crafted from silk, and even a gold-plated 3-D-printed map of an owner's DNA. "I wanted to take the motoring constant that has existed for a century but served little purpose but to hide airbags and componentry, and give it another purpose, space to breathe," Taylor said in a statement.
The overall look is an improvement from the dash area of the previous Phantom, which was starting to grow a bit dated because of the physical gauges on the instrument cluster. Now, the instruments are digital and are set off by round chrome surrounds.
The new Phantom continues with the tradition of offering the Starlight Headliner, and the new one is the largest ever on a Rolls. Along with the softest carpet you can likely imagine (trust us), the Phantom offers customers a choice of different seat types, including lounge seats and a sleeping seat. In the rear, a center console comes complete with whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes, and a Coolbox. You'll also find rear picnic tables and monitors that can be put up and down with the push of a button. Rather than just offering heated seats, Rolls-Royce includes heating for the front door armrests, rear side armrests and rear center armrest, front center console lid, and the lower C-Pillar. And whether you're the driver or the passenger, you'll be comforted by safety features including collision warning, cross-traffic warning, a head-up display, active cruise control, lane departure and lane change warning, and a host of other aids.
With an even nicer interior and more powerful engine befitting its large size, the Phantom achieves a more modern feel than the seventh generation that made its debut back in 2003. But the goal is still the same: offer the smoothest, most accommodating means of conveyance in the world