At one minute past midnight on the first of January 2003, Rolls-Royce parent company BMW ushered in the seventh-generation of its iconic, range-topping luxury car. Today, the company is announcing its eighth-generation Phantom, complete with an all-new aluminium spaceframe dubbed ‘the architecture of luxury’, and more changes both under the hood and inside its hefty doors.
Let’s start with changes to the powerplant; gone is the naturally-aspirated 6.75-litre unit and in its place is a twin-turbocharged V12 with the same displacement, mated to an 8-speed ZF gearbox. It churns out 563bhp and a frankly more important 663 lb-ft of torque from a lowly 1,700rpm. This helps the car propel itself to 60mph in 5.3 seconds with a top speed of 155mph.
And all this, as usual, is achieved without fuss. Rolls-Royce’s engineers spent a lot of time soundproofing the car so that the regal occupants in the rear wouldn’t have to hear any untoward engine barking. So there is more than 130kg of sound-deadening material in the headliner, doors and boot cavity, as well as cavity sound insulation in the tyres.
The result? This Phantom VIII is 60dB quieter than the previous generation at 62mph.
Then of course, we get to the interior. This is where Rolls-Royce expect an average car to be fitted with $150,000 worth of options on top of the $440,000 list price.
“Every one of our customers – connoisseurs of luxury in the extreme – was asking me for something more individual to them, not less,” Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös says in an interview with TopGear magazine. “I was adamant that’s what they should have.”
Case in point: Rolls-Royce has installed a gallery in the dashboard, perfect for those buyers wanting to take their priceless collections with them on the road, hidden inside a glass casing. Then of course there are the seats, either ‘Lounge’ or ‘Individual’, with console variations and drink holders in any denomination you’d like. There are heated front-door armrests for those wicked winter months, as well as lighting options that you’d more commonly find in an art gallery.
Given this is only the second iteration of the Phantom under BMW’s watch, the parent company has also gone full steam with tech advancements to make this the most high-tech Rolls-Royce in history.
The new Phantom uses self-levelling air suspension and a clever camera system which monitors the road ahead and alters the softness of the ride to provide the perfect smooth journey for its occupants. There’s also four-wheel steering to increase stability at higher speeds and manoeuvrability at low speeds.
There’s no word yet on when the 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII will be made available to order, but a new bar has undoubtedly been set in the luxury car space.