Rolls-Royce Phantom saloon
“The Rolls-Royce Phantom has evolved into an even more comfortable, elegant and bespoke model than before. You could be looking at the world’s most opulent car”
- One of the best interiors
- Impressive technology
- Smooth ride
- Enormous size
- Hugely expensive to buy
- Thirsty V12 petrol engine
The Rolls-Royce Phantom has a straightforward design brief, but it’s one with huge ramifications for its engineers and designers. That’s because it’s simply meant to be the world’s best car. Not that Rolls-Royce calls the Phantom a car at all, referring to it as a ‘luxury item’.
Costing well over £300,000, the Phantom certainly blurs the line between a regular four-wheeled saloon car and travel at an altogether higher altitude. This theme continues inside, because with the optional reclining rear seats fitted, you could easily find yourself nodding off, only to wake up in another country.
Thanks to the car's rarefied nature, competitors to the Rolls-Royce Phantom are few and far between, with the most direct rival being the Bentley Mulsanne or its high-riding cousin, the Bentley Bentayga. The Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ (long wheelbase) and BMW 7 Series all offer a VIP experience, but seem mainstream in comparison to the Phantom. SUVs are finding favour with the world's elite, too, so a long-wheelbase Range Rover could fit the bill. That’s until the Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV arrives, based on the same underpinnings as the Phantom itself.
There’s only one engine – a 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 built for effortless power delivery and smooth running rather than thrifty fuel economy. Given its prodigious shove and the Phantom’s huge size, 20mpg is arguably quite an achievement, but few cars will be pricier to run. Perhaps in the future we’ll see a plug-in hybrid or electric Phantom, and if that day does come, silent running and instant torque would certainly suit the car.
While it might not look it, the regular Phantom (there’s a long-wheelbase version available, too) is actually shorter than the model it replaces and 30% stiffer. While it’s hardly ‘sporty’, these traits and a new four-wheel steering system make the Phantom feel surprisingly wieldy. It’s great news for driving in congested city centres and the Phantom is also a joy to drive on country roads. On the motorway, the same system aids stability and an obsessive attention to sound-proofing the interior means almost no outside noise can be heard.
As a result, we can imagine there are few nicer places to be on the move. Materials are all of the finest quality, almost everything is bespoke to suit the owner’s taste and the infotainment system has come in for a serious overhaul.
For those lucky enough to view a whiskey decanter as a rudimentary option for their new vehicle, only the Rolls-Royce Phantom is likely to fit the bill.