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Favourite haunt: How the new Rolls-Royce Phantom became even more luxurious

Reassuringly familiar on the outside, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is now more accommodating on the inside. Brett Berk finds the timeless car’s “suite” spot...

The new Rolls-Royce Phantom is the eighth in an unbroken series of like-named cars, dating back nearly a century, the longest-lived nameplate in autodom. Though it sports a more recumbent and elegant profile, it bears a visual similarity to the previous Phantom VII, in production since 2003. This is intentional. When your customers shell out $400,000 for a brand-new sedan, the next generation model shouldn’t make the outgoing car appear obsolete.

The real changes are under the skin, where an all new rigid aluminium space-frame and airbag suspension jointly deliver what Rolls calls a “Magic Carpet Ride.” Flexible in length and height, this new platform will also underpin a long wheelbase Phantom with a nine inch stretch to its rear compartment, as well as the forthcoming Cullinan ultra-luxury SUV. All Phantoms will be powered by a 12-cylinder engine capable of prodigious output. For the first time, a four wheel drive option will be available.

It is the interior where the Phantom VIII really exhibits its exclusivity. As customers spend more time in their vehicles – due to increased congestion and longer commutes – their demands have changed. A car must now act as a mobile office, living room, boardroom, hotel room and screening room. Rolls calls the car’s interior “The Suite.”

When a “pedestrian” Mercedes S-Class sports opulent materials like unvarnished woods, deep pile carpets, and impeccable French-stitched hides, the bar must be raised. Rolls-Royce’s savvy response is personalisation, allowing every consumer to place their imprimatur on the vehicle. Up front, in the dash, there is an all-new three-dimensional glassed-in “gallery” where customers collaborate with the brand’s craftspeople to configure sculptures, sigils, or shrines in almost any material — feathers, porcelain, gems, metals, or even laser light. Rolls expects that each customer will add six figures in options to the “base” price of the car, which is expected to start at around half a million dollars.

The new Phantom VIII will go into production this summer, and the first deliveries to clients will start at the end of 2017. Order yours now, and keep it forever.