THE eighth-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom isn’t a car; it’s now a $1 million-plus, autobahn-storming mobile art gallery.
While most of us worry about finding space on the fridge to hang our kids’ art, the German-owned British uber-luxury marque has created a fascia for the new Phantom, revealed overnight, that it calls The Gallery. It’s a space on the dashboard where instead of looking at handcrafted leather and lacquered wood, owners can “commission and curate” works of art sealed behind a special glass cover.
“The reduced and symmetrically balanced line-work of Phantom’s instrument panel frames a generous and beautifully simple application of glass,” Rolls-Royce Motor Cars design director Giles Taylor said.
“It runs, uninterrupted, across the fascia, emphasising a sense of width. Positioned front and centre, it is the focal point of the interior of New Phantom, providing a perfect stage for artworks.
“This treatment of glass enables an unprecedented opportunity for the protection and presentation of works of art, which is why, we have rather aptly named it, ‘The Gallery’.”
Another big change is what powers the Phantom. It keeps the 6.7-litre V12, but the all-new engine is no longer normally aspirated. Instead, it packs a pair of turbochargers to produce 420kW at 6000rpm – a 25 percent power gain over the old one – and a designer stump-pulling 900Nm from 1700rpm, again sending drive to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
At 5762mm, the new Phantom is 77mm shorter than the model it replaces. Its long wheelbase – a long-running Rolls-Royce trait – is also 19mm shorter at 3552mm. Weight, meanwhile, grows by just 10kg to 2560kg.
An extended wheelbase version adds 220mm to overall length via a wheelbase stretched to 3772mm – you could fit a decade-old Holden Barina inside it.
The old 338kW/720Nm Phantom – reintroduced to the world by new owners BMW in 2003 after a ten year slumber – could politely ask Jeeves to shuffle up to 100km/h in as little as 5.9 seconds. This new one will cover the same distance in just 5.3secs, and keep going until the Phantom reaches its 250km/h electronically limited top speed.
The new Phantom’s all-aluminium spaceframe is said to be lighter and more rigid than before, and Rolls-Royce boasts the interior is so quiet that testers had to ensure their noise-sensing instruments were calibrated correctly. The bulkhead and floor – places where noise has traditionally filtered into the cabin – are now double-skinned and carry an extra insulating layer of felt sandwiched between them.
How quiet? The Phantom carries more than 130kg of sound-deadening material, and includes the largest cast aluminium joints in the industry to help stop noise transfer. Even the tyres have a layer of foam inside them to wipe out cavity resonance.
The new limousine’s panel gaps and shutlines – the spaces between the panels and doors – are so fine that the carmaker says the Phantom looks as though it was carved from a single block of aluminium.
The Roller rides on the “Magic Carpet Ride” self-levelling air suspension, with double wishbones up front and a multilink axle down the rear to deliver “incredible agility and stability”. This generation of the Phantom also adds all-wheel steering to provide a turning circle of 13.09m, meaning it needs just a little more room to perform a U-bolt than a Toyota Hilux.
In terms of electronics, Rolls-Royce says the new Phantom uses the most technologically advanced, and largest ever, component developed by BMW – including a seven- by three-inch head-up display.
Up front, the traditional Pantheon grille sits taller than before, with the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine now sitting a bit more than a centimetre higher than it did before. Oh, and the grille, rather than sitting proud, is now integrated into the surrounding bodywork for the first time. “The resulting effect is a cleaner, reduced design with modernity and clarity, allowing all-new Phantom’s lines to connect with this iconic statement of power and flow from it,” Rolls-Royce says.
The new Phantom rides on Architecture of Luxury, a bespoke platform that will also evolve for future products including the Cullinan SUV, and new versions of the Ghost, Wraith and Dawn, “as well as other coachbuild projects”. The platform won’t be shared with BMW, which is focussing its efforts on its CLAR “cluster architecture” rear-drive platform that uses a blend of steel, aluminium and carbonfibre to cut weight and help prepare the German luxury car maker for hybridisation.
“It (Architecture of Luxury) has been designed and engineered from the ground up in such a way as to be scalable to the size and weight requirements of different future Rolls-Royce models, including those with different propulsion, traction and control systems, thus underpinning the long-term future product roadmap,” the luxury carmaker said.
As the first Architecture of Luxury product, expect the all-new Phantom to nudge the current car’s price beyond $1 million, well above the old model’s $855K million ask, and the first time in six years it will break through the six-figure Swarovski cut-crystal ceiling.
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