The unique Rolls-Royce Phantom was unveiled in 1925, making it the longest constantly used mannequin title in automotive historical past. Over these 92 years, empires and nations have risen and fallen, and the fortunes of the British luxurious automobile maker have been equally turbulent.
The corporate we now know as Rolls-Royce Motorcars solely dates again to 1998, when the automotive aspect of the corporate grew to become a part of BMW. The primary automobile to be produced within the new period underneath the Bavarian Motor Works was the Phantom, which by then was the seventh era of the automobile.
After a 14-year manufacturing run, a brand new era of what some have known as the most effective automobile on the earth is rolling off the manufacturing line at Goodwood, and we had the prospect to drive the Phantom VIII within the Swiss Alps to see simply how a lot perfection might be improved upon.
Though the seems are an evolution of the Phantom VII’s styling, there are some putting options that instantly set the brand new era aside. Up entrance, the Phantom VIII has the most important model of the long-lasting Pantheon grille ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce. In contrast to its predecessors, the grille is now totally built-in into the entrance of the automobile, making it really feel a part of the automobile fairly than furnishings bolted to it. The entrance is taller and steeper, and the bigger physique panels on the entrance contribute a daring, aggressive face.
A lot of that aggression softens towards the rear, although, as coach traces and creases alike fade to nothing, leaving a smoother, extra elegant form. This helps the brand new Phantom transition to a much less cumbersome again finish the place its boat-tail-style physique tapers right into a much less imposing rear.
Total, simplicity and reductionism have been the watchwords to create a cleaner and fewer fussy exterior, while nonetheless wanting imposing.
Entry into the automobile comes via the large doorways, the rear of which Rolls-Royce calls coach doorways, however colloquially is likely to be higher recognized by the unlucky moniker “suicide doorways.” This permits the entire automobile to open up like a gate to a stately house, inviting you into the sheer luxurious inside. Sitting within the rear seats of a Phantom is normally reserved for the hyper-rich or bluest of bloods, however you do not have to be Her Royal Highness to understand the lambswool carpets or the exquisitely smooth leather-clad head cushions that be sure to are enveloped in smooth consolation.
If there’s a extra snug place to sit down on the earth than the again seat of a Rolls-Royce Phantom, I have not discovered it.
As soon as inside, the doorways could be closed from a seating place with the contact of a button. Alternatively, your chauffeur can hit a button on the outside door deal with. Both management will softly deliver the door in and gently seal Sir or Madam inside a cocoon of silence.
And that silence might be the one largest focus within the Phantom, for not solely is it probably the most snug place to sit down, you’d battle to search out anyplace extra capably of maintaining the skin world at bay — aurally, at the very least.
Continental was tasked with growing a tire that may create the least quantity of highway noise whereas sustaining consolation and efficiency, and it took over 100 prototypes to get the noise right down to a degree that the engineers would settle for. An extremely smooth rubber compound mixed with a posh inside construction maintain the journey easy and the noise down the place the automobile touches the highway.
Noise deadening continues within the chassis. Enhancements to the design right here not solely delivered a chassis 30 % stiffer than on the earlier Phantom, however lighter, too. As an alternative of maintaining that weight saving, Rolls-Royce added in additional sound-deadening supplies, bringing the load proper again as much as 5,643 lbs.
That additional effort to cut back noise pays dividends, with noise has been lowered an additional 10 % in comparison with the earlier Phantom, a automobile that was already whisper quiet.
And there’s a lot of sound to maintain at bay, a considerable quantity of which might come from the engine. The all new 6.75-liter, twin-turbo V12 can barely be heard within the cabin because it kicks out 653 brake horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The eight-speed ZF transmission ensures that the automobile stays in its slender energy band, which kicks in at just one,700 rpm however begins to drop once more by 2,500 rpm. Anybody who frequently takes their Phantom over that vary, although, is just not doing it proper.
Though the load is identical because the Phantom VII, that new engine provides the chauffeur greater than 100 additional horses to play with, and 60 mph arrives in a really cheap 5.1 seconds. High pace is proscribed at 155 mph, however driving at that pace would solely shorten your journey time, which appears considerably in opposition to the purpose in case you’re shopping for a Phantom within the first place.
There are faster methods to get round, particularly when you could have half one million obtainable to spend on a automobile, however in case you want investing within the consolation of your journey fairly than decreasing the length, then the Phantom is the last word software for that job.
In case your journey is more likely to take you thru the mountain passes of the Alps, as our drive did, you need not fear about your driver struggling to maintain the smooth suspension from rocking the automobile like a sailboat on the excessive seas. Though the suspension feels smooth and forgiving when going over bumps on the straights, within the corners the Phantom feels agency and planted, turning completely degree with out even a touch of physique roll. Even when turning tightly underneath braking, going downhill it nonetheless felt like your passengers would not spill their champagne.
The brakes have been arrange with additional journey on the pedal, permitting the driving force to sluggish the automobile down extraordinarily exactly, avoiding the dreaded head nod when coming to a standstill.
It used to take a talented chauffeur to make sure the passengers had the total Rolls-Royce expertise on roads like these. However as the common age of Rolls-Royce buyer drops (it is now at 39) and extra consumers wish to drive their vehicles themselves, the Phantom needed to be engineered to be as snug and stress-free to drive as it’s to be pushed.
It appears apt, then, that one of many headline new options of the Phantom VIII is a brand new design contact up entrance: The Gallery. Located behind a single piece of glass that stretches the total width of the sprint, it not solely homes the instrument cluster (which is now totally digital) and the retractable infotainment display but in addition a novel piece of artwork, commissioned by the purchasers to make their Phantom really considered one of a form.
Prospects can strategy their favorite artist or discover inspiration of their very own to have a novel piece of artwork constructed for the Phantom. The examples we have seen to this point vary from delicate silk work to intricate ceramic roses. There may be fairly a little bit of house to play with, and the form of the Gallery will lend itself to some fascinating concepts. Choices will little question be limitless and prospects who already battle for over a yr simply to select the colour of the automobile could have an entire new a part of the shopping for course of to agonize over.
The place it will actually influence the Phantom shall be in a long time to come back, when vehicles of this age shall be making appearances at traditional automobile reveals. The place vehicles with mounted infotainment programs will look laughably dated, the Curler is not going to solely have the ability to cover its display, however current its distinctive dashboard making it traditional automobile and murals in equal measure.
It is not solely the Gallery that factors to the long run although. The chassis that underpins the Phantom VIII would be the platform that every one new Rolls-Royces shall be constructed on. We’ll subsequent see it on the SUV we have been promised subsequent yr. Quickly, Rolls-Royce will have the ability to boast that none of their vehicles are constructed on the bones of a BMW.
The place the dad or mum firm’s guiding hand is most seen is the infotainment system, which continues to be based mostly on that in BMWs. The place the Phantom VII was feeling somewhat lengthy within the tooth in that regard, the Phantom VIII’s system has a a lot crisper interface, smoother graphics and comes loaded with extra connectivity and options. Trendy driver aids corresponding to BMW’s adaptive cruise management and lane departure warnings are all current and proper. The infotainment programs could be managed from the rear the place, on the contact of a button, the picnic tables fold down and the massive screens are revealed. The iDrive type up entrance is totally duplicated within the rear, permitting the passengers to have full management over leisure and local weather.
Though it’s from the again seats that every one Phantoms are primarily designed to be loved, the Phantom VIII has stepped up the driving expertise sufficiently to make this equally a driver’s automobile. With a contemporary infotainment system and driver aids, the automobile is prepared for its proprietor to take both the entrance or the rear seats. The place it appeared arduous for the Phantom to enhance in any respect, Rolls-Royce has discovered each final place it may and upped their sport.
Is it the most effective automobile on the earth? After two days or driving and being pushed, it is arduous to argue that it’s not.