Rolls-Royce Phantom 2017 review
The new Rolls-Royce Phantom arrives, determined to retain its place as the pinnacle of luxury motoring
This is the new Rolls-Royce Phantom, the eighth model to wear the nameplate; only, like a navy warship, Phantom nameplates haven’t necessarily followed one directly after the other. But Phantom VIII does directly follow VII (the roman numerals make it sound a bit more regal, presumably), which itself ran – reigned, perhaps – for 14 years of the kind that Nicholas Witchell would describe as long and happy.Anyway, the king is dead, long live the king; or meet the new boss, same as, etc. You get the idea: the new Phantom is expected pick up from where the old one left off. “A Phantom is a Phantom is a Phantom,” says Rolls CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. He may have added another “is a Phantom” in there. I forget. But, anyway, know that this car is the flag-bearer, the top dog, the prince among men – regardless of what happens to the Rolls range in future.What will happen is that all models (Rollses, Rollsi? Not Rollers, I don’t think) will be underpinned by a new platform, which finds its debut in this new Phantom. No more upscaling BMW platforms to suits lesser Rolls. Eventual replacements for the Ghost, Wraith coupé and Dawn convertible, and the Project Cullinan SUV, will all feature this aluminium spaceframe that is generally 30% more torsionally rigid than the outgoing Phantom’s, rising to 100% stiffer in key areas – around suspension and gearbox mounts, for example.Aluminium bodywork is crafted over the top and the body-in-white ends up “accidentally” being lighter than the old one, according to engineering director Phillip Koehn: “Saving weight wasn’t a priority. If there’s a chance to improve stiffness, I take it.” Body stiffness brings its rewards when it comes to refinement and ride quality, see, which are the two things that should define a Phantom more than anything else, and thus should set a new benchmark for the industry.So there are air springs, which is probably the only sensible way to control the body movements of a 2560kg car (2610kg as an Extended Wheelbase, which our test car isn’t), despite an air-sprung car’s tendency to ‘sproing’, allied to adaptive dampers (although you can’t influence their stiffness, thankfully) and active anti-roll bars (12v, not 48v, because Rolls says the torque output is the same either way). There’s rear-wheel steering, too, offering counter steer while manoeuvring of up to three degrees. When will I see you again? In 13.77 metres, even on the long version.Overall, the standard wheelbase Phantom is 5.76m long, with the EWB coming in at 5.98m; both shorter than their predecessors but heavier, too, because as well as Koehn taking every opportunity for stiffness, he’s also taken every opportunity to increase the refinement and technology levels.In the former’s case, that means there is more than 130kg of sound deadening material: foams, sheets and so on. Even the tyres get it. Koehn likes that the tyres are the first line of suspension, so while he has specified tyres with not overtly generous sidewalls – our test car rode on 22in rims, with 45 and 40 front and rear profiles – they are soft sidewalls. They’re also, as tyres are, large echo chambers for noise, so around the inside of the tyrewall of each tyre runs 2kg of soundproofing foam (like Maybach variants of the Mercedes S-Class and the Tesla Model S), which isn’t good for the unsprung mass, but the substantial body weight isn’t easily deflected by that anyway.Power comes from a 6.75-litre engine again; Rolls’s go-to engine size and, in its more recently adopted layout, a V12. It’s effectively a stroked and reworked version of the 6.6-litre V12 that operates in the Ghost. There was no will to make the bore bigger, because torque is the priority. There are two turbochargers and the same power output – 563bhp – as in the Ghost. Torque, though, is monumental; there’s 664lb ft of it and it’s generated from only 1700rpm. Peak power is made at 5000rpm and the unit can rev to 6000rpm; but unless you lose your right foot deep within the thick, luxurious carpet, anything more than 2500rpm is “out of its general operating range”, says Koehn.
Source: Autocar Online