by John Tallodi
The Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII has been totally redesigned for 2018 and while it looks more evolutionary than revolutionary, the changes under the skin are significant.
The old Phantom has been on sale since 2004 and while it remained unmatched in its ability to transport its occupants along in a bubble of utter tranquility, the world had moved on in terms of in-car technology and safety systems.
The new Phantom addresses these issues and raises the ultra-luxury stakes once again with a level of opulence and customizability that is simply unmatched in the automotive world.
The Phantom is an imposingly large sedan, its upright dimensions give it masses of interior space and although Rolls-Royce claims that owners may slip behind the wheel from time to time, the focus here is all on the rear occupants.
Leg and headroom is excellent and each individual seat has multiple power settings that make even the longest journey a comfortable experience. For even more interior space, an extended wheelbase model is also available.
Material quality and fit and finish is as good as it gets and the attention to even the smallest button and trim piece is astounding. Thick pile carpets, soft-touch leather, chromed metal surfaces and polished wood dominate the cabin.
The driver and front passenger still have plenty of space to get comfortable and the imposing dashboard features the bare minimum of switches rotary controls.
The previous Phantom was behind the times when it came to in-car entertainment and at first glance there do not seem to be the usual signs of USB connectors and audio inputs that are commonplace in most luxury cars. These have been discretely placed behind swiveling covers, embedded into headrests and built into the center armrest, only appearing when required.
The Phantom is all about serene and unflustered travel, it weighs as much as a full-sized SUV but the advanced air suspension provides a surprising amount of body control if you were to ever tackle a corner with some vigor. Which of course you wouldn't, despite its respectable dynamic abilities the Phantom is designed to turn even the roughest roads into a glass-like surface, an electronic system scans the road ahead to prepare the suspension for any pending bumps and this aids in providing the best ride quality in the business.
When it comes to road noise, there simply isn't any, not at legal velocities anyway. Pure electric cars make more noise on pull-off compared to the way the Phantom glides up to speed. Enhanced sound-deadening has further muted the cabin over its forebear and it takes a very dedicated chauffer to get the V12 engine to make itself heard.
The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom features an updated version of the iconic 6.75-Liter V12, twin-turbochargers help it produce the same 563 horsepower as before but a meatier 664 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are the only drivetrain options.
The Phantom can hustle up to 60 mph in under 5-seconds and it has no trouble brushing slower moving traffic aside as it accesses a wave of sustained torque in each gear. It doesn't not exhibit that same kind of spine-crushing thrust some lighter luxury sedans are capable of but that would seem a trifle unseemly in something as luxurious and stately as the Phantom.
It is at its happiest when cruising along, accessing only a fraction of the prodigious power reserves, the transmission shuffling unobtrusively through the gears.
Standard specification levels cover all the usual bases and some notable items are a new 12.3-inch infotainment display, heated and powered seats all-round and power function both front and rear, even the armrests are heated.
A complex adaptive air suspension system with camera assistance is also standard but the endless level of paint and interior trim options is what the Phantom is all about.
Cigar humidors, drinks refrigerator, parasols integrated into the doors and a starlight headliner are some of the official options, although owners are free to suggest their own ideas for a price.
When Rolls-Royce eventually transitions to electric power its customers may not even notice, such is the level of noise suppression in the cabin.
The latest Phantom brings with it updated safety and technology while also offering a level of comfort and personalization that once again places it at the very top of this rarefied class.