Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 UK review
The newest version of Rolls-Royce's flagship model sets new standards for opulence and luxury whether you're driving it or being driven in it
What is it?
This is nothing less than the pinnacle – the very epitome – of motoring luxury, so declared this publication on the occasion of the eighth-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom’s international launch last October.
It’s not so hard to believe, is it? Rolls-Royce claims to have reduced cabin noise by as much 75% over the old Phantom, which itself was no heavy metal concert, and it has supposedly improved the driving experience, too. That’s of more significance than you might imagine, given the surprisingly high proportion of Phantom owners who actually take to the sizeable three-spoke wheel of their cars.
We’ll come onto the hardware in a moment, but first, the design, which is recognisable from the previous generation car. That wasn’t such a pretty thing, but, when it came to all-round imperiousness, it was a match for the Natural History Museum, and that hasn’t changed.
The new Phantom is perhaps a mite softer in its geometry and is notable for the tightness of its shutlines and the growth of its hand-polished 'Pantheon’ grille, which is also more smoothly integrated into the surrounding bodywork. For the record, the Spirit of Ecstasy now sits half an inch further from the road.
Having already sampled the Rolls-Royce's new flagship abroad, we’ve rather looked forward to getting the Phantom on UK roads, not least because Rolls-Royce makes some whopping claims about its ride quality. The suspension apparently makes ‘millions’ of calculations every second, reacting not only to physical inputs but also information from a windscreen-mounted camera. The eight-speed gearbox also uses satellite data to prepare for the road ahead, and there’s a layer of foam within the vast tyres to ameliorate roar.
This, we suppose, is precisely what you’d want to hear if you were spending roughly £400,000 on a car, but is it borne out on the road?
What's it like?
Often when we talk about cars that ‘stir the soul’ there’s an atmospheric screamer of a combustion engine spinning to the heavens involved. That or a chassis of such exquisite poise that it tickles the synapses in a way that has to be experienced to be believed.
Achieving any good level of stirring with boring old refinement is a much harder task and far rarer to witness. It can be equally gratifying, however, and that’s the case here, with a twin-turbo V12 that idles low enough to have you checking for signs of life, at near 650rpm.
Once aboard, you push a button to shut off the outside world, which explains the absence of an obvious door-handle. Step-off in the eighth-generation Phantom is then so absurdly serene that it can actually make you feel giddy, like when you’re not sure whether it’s the train you’re watching or the one you're sitting in that’s beginning to glide away. Throttle response is perhaps a touch lethargic, but you’ll forgive it that.
On the move, that six-and-three-quarter engine is so impossibly distant that it may as well be connected to the car in front via an extra long propshaft. The engineering brief was probably to hide its existence altogether, and so you don’t get a tachometer, only a reading of how much power you have left in reserve.
Drive sensibly and you’ll make ample progress without ever leaving anything less than seven tenths as back-up, although mashing your foot into the inch-and-a-half-thick pile of the carpet will make 60mph come up in 5.1sec. That’s quick enough to leave our current favourite hot hatch, the Honda Civic Type R, for dead and evidence of more than 660lb ft of torque from just 1700rpm.
British roads versus all-new Phantom, then – hardly a fair fight? In general, no, not really. This car debuts a fresh, more torsionally rigid all-aluminium spaceframe platform for Rolls-Royce. From it are hung air springs with adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars. There’s also four-wheel steering, which in this instance is less about realising the last word in agility than it is making this 5.76 metre-long car tolerably manoeuvrable on tighter roads.
On sale Now Price £360,000 Engine V12, 6.75 litres, twin-turbocharged petrol Power 563bhp at 5000rpm Torque 664lb ft at 1700rpm Gearbox 8-spd auto Kerbweight 2560kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.1sec Fuel economy 20.3mpg CO2 318g/km Rivals Bentley Mulsanne, Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Full Review https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/rolls-royce/phantom/first-drives/rolls-royce-phantom-2018-uk-review