There is always a spiel. Introductions to new cars have, in these heady times, taken on PhD thesis-level lengths (I’m looking at you, Audi A8).
Hence, as I arrived at the showroom to get behind the wheel of a $2.6 million palace on wheels, I was expecting death by PowerPoint.
Fortunately, it was not to be.
Luxury is, after all, effortlessness. Being bombarded with ostentatious functionality would be unbecoming, and the Rolls-Royce Phantom is anything but.
Like having an army of silken gloved butlers work tirelessly but imperceptibly, being in command of a Rolls Royce Phantom is simplicity of operation manifest.
Therefore, I find myself struggling before my keyboard with the enormity of writing about this… car?
“Superluxury” is abstract concept. Rolls-Royce is so far up the stratosphere that it has burst right through the clouds and gone beyond usual mechanical considerations.
How then, do I do justice to this monument to magnificence?
It seems not just rude but small-minded to review this gilded chariot like one would any other mere mechanical tool of transport. It would be like nit-picking pew comfort in the Sistine Chapel – you’d be missing the point, spectacularly.
But this is a motoring website, after all, and I am hence obliged to yammer on a little about the oily bits.
CALMNESS IN ITS PRESENCE
One does not merely look at the new Rolls-Royce Phantom, but instead basks in its aura. Standing proud even in a busy street, the Phantom dominates the scene, radiating a gravity that pulls your eyes to it and almost blankets a hush over its environs.
Yet, for all its chutzpah, the detailing is graceful and delicate. Large expanses of glistening metal are uninterrupted by shutlines, rendering an even greater impression of milled solidity.
The proud grille, for the first time ever, is integrated into the bodywork, and the ring of daytime running lights surround a laser lighting array that illuminates the world 600m ahead.
Underneath the broad-shouldered sheet-metal that marries slick modernity with substantial, unmistakeable grandeur is Rolls-Royce’s “Architecture of Luxury”.
This is a suitably bombastic name for a vehicle platform. These underpinnings are unique to Rolls-Royce, and is effectively an all-aluminium spaceframe.
Alongside the usual generation-on-generation claims of increased rigidity and lightness are the integration of air suspension and chassis control systems.
Four-wheel-steering shrinks the 5.7-metre-long behemoth, while fully modern tech in the chassis and proactive, stereo-camera fed suspension work silently to preserve Rolls-Royce’s signature “Magic Carpet Ride”.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
No effort is spared in acoustic engineering either, with 130kg of sound deadening materials and Rolls-Royce Phantom-specific “Silent-Seal” tires ensuring utmost tranquillity.
The 6mm thick dampened glass keeps out the coarse cacophony of the plebeian world, and it helps that aluminium has a higher acoustic impedance than steel.
The result is a cabin 10% quieter at 100km/h than its already astoundingly silent predecessor.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom’s bespoke sound system is developed painstakingly by actual musicians personally listening to all manner of music genres over thousands of miles of driving.
At the wheel, the driving position is the height of a tall SUV’s. Yet you are always aware that this is a three-box sedan the size of an ocean liner.
The abiding impression is thus of being at the helm of a car with greater power, presence, and substance than anything else on the road.
MOVING WITH GRACE
What words comes to mind? Luxurious? Cossetting? Confidence-inspiring? An S-Class is those things.
As with everything the Rolls-Royce Phantom does, you are more than merely comfortable. Driving this is an event. “Transcendent” seems more appropriate.
As expected, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is supremely serene. Naturally, it smothers road imperfections like a harpist delicately mutes her strings. In place of a tachometer, the Phantom has a “power reserve” guage.
Tickling that needle with your right foot to engage the 563bhp V12 swells the car forward with such grace that you will be surprised to find yourself way ahead of the traffic.
The brakes work equally proportionately, responding in a damped but secure manner that utterly belies the car’s monolithic mass.
Conducting all this through the substantially sized, totally mute, yet somehow unerringly accurate tiller is a uniquely empowering experience. Getting into a flowing, smooth rhythm is exceptionally easy.
THE ART OF OPULENCE
Beyond the experience of physical comfort, and let us not forget the incredible levels of quality and opulence on every knurled metal knob, polished wood surface, foot-burying carpet, and sumptuous leather, is where the Phantom’s concept of luxury spears off into esoteric territory.
Scrutiny of the line that runs down the car’s side reveal the faintest imperfections brought about by being hand painted. Is it an inferior line to one that might have been painted by robot?
Yes. It is infinitely superior for the knowledge that it was done by a dedicated craftsman wielding an artisanal brush? Absolutely. Such is the rarefied air we breathe.
Then there is the “Gallery”. A work of art of your choosing embedded in the expanse of the dash. From the back seat, you can gaze up into the Starlight headliner. This is a tapestry of LED lights configured to simulate an accurate night sky, complete with the occasional shooting star.
Billionaires have been known to specify the vista of the night their child was born. The opportunities for self-expression are endless.
The Maybachs from the early 2000s were duds. Even Bentley’s Mulsanne cannot find sufficient cause to keep going. Being expensive and expensively hewn is clearly not enough, despite the world’s remorseless surfeit of super-rich.
Yet here we are with the Rolls-Royce Phantom, as unimpeachable as ever as a totem of supremacy. The universe will always have room for a “best” anything, but there can, by definition, be only one.
How does the Rolls-Royce Phantom come to sit so comfortably upon its throne? The real trick here is, as lavish and grand as this thing is, that there is absolutely nothing about it that is vulgar.
Which is quite the achievement. Being at the absolute pinnacle of motorcar-dom, this is a no-compromise work of art and engineering aimed at a no-compromise clientele, or as RR would have u call them, patrons.
As such, the limiting factor for what can be achieved is nothing quite so pedestrian as cost as it is its makers’ imagination.
To have such a machine glide, both literally and metaphorically, so deftly and with such poise, is a testament to the skill of its conception and construction. Even a socialist would struggle to resent this towering edifice to taste and grace.
The best car in the world? You bet.
Rolls Royce Phantom 6.7 (A)
ENGINE 6749cc, V12, 48 valves, turbocharged
MAX POWER 563bhp at 5000rpm
MAX TORQUE 900Nm at 1700rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 226.5bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic
0-100KM/H 5.3 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
CONSUMPTION 7.19km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 318g/km
PRICE INCL. COE From $1,778,888 ($2,614,698 as tested)
AGENT Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Singapore
Read our review of the previous Rolls-Royce Phantom II here
Rolls-Royce presents 1:18 scale Cullinan SUV
Fancy an opulent open-air experience? Click here for our Rolls-Royce Dawn review!
Or check out our Rolls-Royce Wraith review here