Automotive

Up close and personal with the stunning new Rolls-Royce Phantom

Up close and personal with the...
The nose of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom 
The nose of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom 
View 21 Images
The nose of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom 
1/21
The nose of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom 
The grille on the new Phantom is the biggest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce 
2/21
The grille on the new Phantom is the biggest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce 
The lights on the new Phantom can see up to 600 m down the road
3/21
The lights on the new Phantom can see up to 600 m down the road
The Rolls-Royce badge stands for luxury like few others 
4/21
The Rolls-Royce badge stands for luxury like few others 
At more than 5.7 m long, the Phantom certainly doesn't lack presence 
5/21
At more than 5.7 m long, the Phantom certainly doesn't lack presence 
The emblems on the new Rolls-Royce Phantom's wheels stay level, even when the wheel is turning 
6/21
The emblems on the new Rolls-Royce Phantom's wheels stay level, even when the wheel is turning 
The two-tone look of the new Phantom helps accentuate its curves 
7/21
The two-tone look of the new Phantom helps accentuate its curves 
The Rolls-Royce badge represents the height of motoring luxury, and the Phantom represents the peak of Rolls-Royce luxury 
8/21
The Rolls-Royce badge represents the height of motoring luxury, and the Phantom represents the peak of Rolls-Royce luxury 
Behind the wheel of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom 
9/21
Behind the wheel of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom 
A new digital gauge cluster in the Rolls-Royce Phantom 
10/21
A new digital gauge cluster in the Rolls-Royce Phantom 
The "gallery" in the new Phantom is a fascinating take on dashboard trim pieces
11/21
The "gallery" in the new Phantom is a fascinating take on dashboard trim pieces
The infotainment system in the new Phantom borrows plenty from BMW iDrive 
12/21
The infotainment system in the new Phantom borrows plenty from BMW iDrive 
The "gallery" is a fascinating piece of interior design in the Phantom 
13/21
The "gallery" is a fascinating piece of interior design in the Phantom 
The nose of the new Phantom is still big and bluff, but it's a bit sportier than before 
14/21
The nose of the new Phantom is still big and bluff, but it's a bit sportier than before 
The new Rolls-Royce Phantom is a curvier, more luxurious looking car than the model it replaces 
15/21
The new Rolls-Royce Phantom is a curvier, more luxurious looking car than the model it replaces 
The nose of the new Phantom still has a short overhang 
16/21
The nose of the new Phantom still has a short overhang 
Coach doors make it easier to enter and exit the Phantom 
17/21
Coach doors make it easier to enter and exit the Phantom 
The new Rolls-Royce Phantom can be endlessly customized inside 
18/21
The new Rolls-Royce Phantom can be endlessly customized inside 
The starlight headliner in the new Phantom is smarter than before, flickering like a night sky 
19/21
The starlight headliner in the new Phantom is smarter than before, flickering like a night sky 
The rear seats are still the place to be in the new Rolls-Royce Phantom
20/21
The rear seats are still the place to be in the new Rolls-Royce Phantom
Behind the wheel of the new Phantom 
21/21
Behind the wheel of the new Phantom 
View gallery - 21 images

A new Rolls-Royce Phantom is big news. The company is arguably the most recognizable luxury brand in motoring, and the Phantom is an embodiment of everything it stands for. The latest, the Phantom VIII, is a significant step on from its predecessor, from the way it looks to the luxurious cabin. We donned our finest suits and headed to Rolls-Royce in Melbourne, Australia to take a closer look at the car.

A grand opening

The grille on the new Phantom is the biggest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce 
The grille on the new Phantom is the biggest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce 

Arriving at the Rolls-Royce showroom, located in Richmond, is an event in itself. It sits alongside an Aston Martin dealership, with McLaren and Audi showrooms next door, so there's no shortage of high-end automobiles in the area.

Having entered through tall, glass doors, customers walk to a second-floor showcase of Dawns, Ghosts and last-generation Phantoms. At the back of the room, behind an area dedicated to Bespoke services, is a long curtain and display area. Hiding behind that curtain is the new Phantom. This is all about the theater, you see.

The Phantom presence

At more than 5.7 m long, the Phantom certainly doesn't lack presence 
At more than 5.7 m long, the Phantom certainly doesn't lack presence 

No Rolls-Royce is small, but the size of the new Phantom still surprises. It's absolutely massive, measuring up at more than 5.7 m (18.7 ft) long and 2 m (6.6 ft) wide. Even though the new Architecture of Luxury chassis is stiffer and lighter than the platform it replaces, the Phantom VIII won't be giving Lotus any sleepless nights, weighing in at 2,560 kg (5,645 lb).

The new grille is the largest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce, while the new headlamps were clearly inspired by those on the 103EX Concept. With short overhangs and the same near-vertical profile as its predecessors, the new car is definitely a Phantom, but it also looks significantly more modern at close quarters.

At the rear, the upright shape of the old car has been replaced with a smoother, sportier shape, not unlike that of the Sweptail. The new curves are highlighted by the two-tone paint on the pre-production car we saw in Melbourne, one of many options available through the ever-expanding Rolls-Royce Bespoke program.

Leather-lined luxury, more tech than ever

The "gallery" in the new Phantom is a fascinating take on dashboard trim pieces
The "gallery" in the new Phantom is a fascinating take on dashboard trim pieces

Of course, what's inside a Rolls-Royce is arguably more important that what's outside. All the Rolls-Royce press materials spend a lot of time talking about the new "gallery," the trim piece running along the top of the dashboard. It sits behind a clear glass section and runs along the dashboard in front of the passenger, before curving in an s-bend to make room for the pop-up infotainment screen in the middle of the dash.

At the moment, there are around 10 options for the piece, ranging from the laser-cut metal you see here, to ornate woodwork pieces – and in future, Rolls-Royce says customers will be able to commission bespoke trim sections from their favourite artists in place of the factory selections. It looks stunning in person, and it should be interesting to see how owners make it their own.

Given it debuted in 2003, the outgoing Phantom VII was a bit behind the curve when it came to technology. The new model addresses that with a suite of semi-autonomous safety features, including radar cruise control, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alerts and auto-emergency braking, just to name a few. It also has a new infotainment system, which operates in much the same way as BMW iDrive. No surprise there, given who owns Rolls.

No stone has been left unturned in the quest to make the interior more luxurious than that of the already-sumptuous Phantom VII. The starlight headliner now flickers gently, and the seat heating extends into the armrests (and c-pillars for rear-seat passengers) for a full-body warming experience. These sound like irrelevant details, but they're the reason Phantom is among the most revered nameplates in the motoring world.

(Not) driving the Phantom VIII

The two-tone look of the new Phantom helps accentuate its curves 
The two-tone look of the new Phantom helps accentuate its curves 

Power comes from a twin-turbo V12 in the new Phantom, good for a 5.3-second sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph). Except it isn't a sprint, it's more of a restrained power walk. The company says the engine and eight-speed ZF transmission deliver "calm low-speed progress ... and an unfussed surge of power when one needs to press on," and we have no reason to doubt that.

Although Rolls-Royce says the new Phantom is a bit sportier than the model it replaces, with a double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension setup, we doubt many owners are likely to try and find the limits of grip. Why hurry when the interior is such a lovely place to spend time?

We didn't get to drive the car – that will have to wait for another day. But there's no doubt, even sitting still, the Phantom VIII is something special.

Rolls-Royce Melbourne is located at 340 Swan St, Richmond. If you're into window shopping, there are few better places to stand and gawk at gorgeous British luxury limos.

View gallery - 21 images
4 comments
guzmanchinky
Amazing cars, but a bit ugly, chunky, in my opinion. I think I'd rather have an S-class or 7 series. Less of a target...
Signguy
Yeah, beauty is DEFINITELY in the eye of the beholder...
EH
The Phantom VI was the last good-looking model, sold from 1968-90. But apparently their nouveau-riche market prefers the brutally ugly looks of the post 2003 designs.
David Priol
The boot is worth more than our house!!!