Rolls-Royce has unveiled its new Phantom, the flagship of the British luxury brand.
In introducing the Phantom VIII on Friday (NZT), Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Torsten Müller-Otvos called the eighth-generation vehicle an icon, an artwork, “a dominant symbol of wealth and human achievement” – a car fit for “a connoisseur of luxury in the extreme.”
Originally launched in 1925, the Phantom is one of the longest-running automobile nameplates in the world and one of the most recognisable.
For its latest iteration, Rolls-Royce kept the car’s powerful, beefy look and distinctive grille, but made significant design and technological changes. At a media preview last month in Hollywood, Müller-Ötvös said the company created the Phantom VIII — which starts at about NZ$600,000 — to be “a completely new Phantom… and not a facelifted seventh-generation.”
Among the upgrades: a new 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 engine; an all-aluminium spaceframe underpinning that is lighter, stiffer and quieter; a slightly higher profile in the front; and a shadow-box-like dashboard that Phantom owners will be able to commission into a work of art (for instance by displaying porcelain flowers behind the Gorilla Glass).
There’s also a feature called “The Embrace.” We’ll let Rolls-Royce describe it: “As the patron settles in to the car, an assistant or valet steps forward and lightly touches the sensor on the door handle so it whispers closed of its own accord, enveloping the occupant in ‘The Embrace’.”
Rolls-Royce also says “incalculable effort was expended to create ‘the most silent motor car in the world’.” This includes 6mm two-layer glazing all around the car, more than 130kg of sound insulation, the largest ever cast aluminium joints in a body-in-white for better sound insulation, and use of high absorption materials.
Acoustic insulation from road noise has been helped by the employment of double skin alloy on areas within the floor and bulkhead of the spaceframe. This is a feature unique to New Phantom. Further noise insulation by inserting dense foam and felt layers are between these skins to provide sound insulation not witnessed before in the car industry.
In addition, high absorption layers within the headliner, in the doors and in the boot cavity have further aided insulation and reduced reverberation. Rolls-Royce also worked closely with its tyre supplier to invent “Silent-Seal” tyres – which feature a specific foam layer placed inside the tyre to wipe out tyre cavity noise and reduce overall tyre noise by 9db, meaning that conversation within the car is completely effortless.
It is all aimed creating a 360 degree cocoon effect in a motor car that is approximately 10 per cent quieter than its predecessor at 100kmh.
That silent claim has seen the new engine built with more low-end output at lower revs. It employs two turbo chargers that contribute to a low-end torque output of 900Nm at an incredibly low 1700rpm while also delivering 563bhp or 420kW of power. The addition of Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT), married to a ZF 8-Speed gearbox also ensures that the driver is prepared for whatever the road has in store for them.
The vehicle’s Electronic Architecture is the largest ever component produced by the BMW Group, let alone Rolls-Royce, helping to make it the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce ever.
This central nervous system connects and controls all the various advanced intelligence systems, making it what Rolls-Royce claims is the most advanced luxury motor car available. Some, but not all, assistance systems on-board include: Alertness Assistant, a 4-camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility including helicopter view, Night Vision and Vision Assist, Active Cruise Control, collision warning, pedestrian warning, cross-traffic warning, lane departure and lane change warning, an industry leading 7×3 high-resolution head-up display, WiFi hotspot, and of course the latest navigation and entertainment systems.
There’s no limit on how many Phantom VIIIs will be made, though Rolls-Royce produces few cars annually to remain exclusive: In 2016, it sold just north of 4000 vehicles, its second-best year ever.
In an interview, Muller-Otvos said Rolls-Royce’s customer base has shifted “dramatically” younger recently, and said the brand is cognizant of the need to appeal to its new clientele.
“The worldwide demographics of ultra-high-net-worth individuals is massively changing,” he said. “They are year by year getting younger and younger and younger. We have witnessed that and we have even forecasted that, and if you don’t cater for their needs, then your brand might get old-fashioned and might die at a certain point in time.”