The Rolls-Royce Phantom limousine has one goal and that’s to be the last word in automotive luxury. Now in its second modern iteration and eighth-generation in Roll-Royce Motor Cars’ history, it forms part of a revered lineage. Having been comparatively unchallenged at the top of the luxury vehicle heap, there is much expected of the new Phantom, and the chance to drive one in a picturesque Franschhoek is an honour and a privilege.
I’m yet to hear of anyone describe the new Phantom as beautiful to look at, but it is sleeker than before. It retains the same grand sense of presence that gets other road users to move right out of the way without hesitation as the polished stainless steel Phantom grille sparkles in the sun with the Spirit of Ecstasy standing proud at the end of the bonnet. It’s enormous, however, the new design carries a feeling of modern elegance, truly unlike any other luxury vehicle on the road. Now constructed entirely out of aluminium, it weighs only a smidge more than it’s smaller sibling the Ghost.
Under the immense bonnet is a 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 engine, it’s eerily quiet yet devastatingly fast for a vehicle weighing close on 2.5 tons and measuring nearly six metres long. With a colossal 420 kW and 900 Nm readily available, the Power Reserve gauge on the driver’s instrument cluster is constantly reminding you of how much oomph there is left to spare. Mated to an 8-speed ZF transmission, impeccably smooth progress is a given. The shifts are optimised by communicating with the on-board GPS, which reads the conditions of the road ahead, while the suspension adapts accordingly. Four-wheel steering has been added for better agility while driving around town and offers improved stability at speed, ensuring the Phantom is now a car that owners would in fact want to drive themselves.
The real joy of experiencing the new Phantom; however, is unquestionably on the inside. The ride is sublimely cushioned and refined. It is calibrated for ultimate comfort and is matched with steering that only requires two fingers to twirl and turn. Trust me, I tried it. The hushed cabin is made possible by double-glazed glass, noise-insulating tyres from Continental and over 100 kg of sound- and vibration-deadening material. It keeps occupants utterly cocooned from the harshness of the outside world unlike any vehicle I’ve ever driven. The all-new construction rests on air springs and adaptive dampers which work surreptitiously at ironing out the road scars, potholes and imperfections of the route in the Cape Winelands. Let’s not forget the soft swathes of hand-stitched leather, lamb’s wool carpets and the sumptuous throne-like seating that adds to the luxurious ambience. Elevated foot rests for rear passengers are a neat touch for when you’ve had a tough day.
With bespoke finishes and designs available, the Phantom is built to the specification of those who order them and this new generation has lived up to its rich heritage. The Phantom is arguably the finest luxury automobile available and well surpasses the establishment when it comes to attention to detail and hand-built customisation. What a privilege, as they say, ‘it is a ‘Rolls after all.’
In a nutshell:
Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII
Like riding on a silk-covered marshmallow, the Phantom is as luxurious as it gets
A select few can afford one, it’s not exactly pretty
Engine 6 749 cc, 12-cylinder, twin-turbo petrol
Power 420 kW @ 5 000 rpm, 900 Nm @ 1 700 rpm
Performance 0–100 km/h in 5.3 sec (claimed)
Top speed 250 km/h (claimed)
Tyres front 255/45/R22, rear 285/40/R22
Economy 14.5 l/100km (claimed)
CO₂ emissions 318 g/km
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Price If you have to ask… POA