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First UK Drive: Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.

First UK Drive: Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII
The Architecture of Luxury chassis under the Rolls Phantom seems to be a magical forcefield that repels all worldly stress.

 



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Rolls-Royce Phantom

5 5 5 5 5

A rare chance to spend some days with the Rolls-Royce Phantom on UK roads completely and utterly blows us away: this thing is beyond car, beyond luxury. It's thoroughly exquisite.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Rolls Royce Phantom VIII
Pricing: Phantom from 300,000 (excluding local taxes); car as tested 376,900 (excluding local taxes - approx. 452,280)
Engine: 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: four-door hyper-luxury saloon
CO2 emissions: 318g/km (VED Band Over 255 - 2,135 first 12 months, then 465 per annum years two to six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter
Combined economy: 20mpg
Top speed: 155mph (electronically limited)
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Power: 571hp at 5,000rpm
Torque: 900Nm at 1,700rpm
Boot space: 548 litres

What's this?

A Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII and no, your eyes are not deceiving you: it's huge. This one isn't even the Extended Wheelbase (EWB) version, either, and yet - at 5,762mm from Spirit-of-Ecstasy-adorned tip to sloping tail - the 'Phants' is a good 550mm or so longer than the hulking frame of one of those giants of modern motoring, a decent double-cab pick-up. There's very little point arguing the toss about the Phantom's looks, either, as you'll have made your mind up one way or the other about it and no amount of cajoling is going to make you alter your viewpoint. What we will say, for the record, is that with its giant Parthenon grille, the aforementioned bonnet ornament (surely THE most famous in the world?), a colossal set of 22-inch fully polished forged alloy wheels and in a restrained finish like Anthracite (it's a mid-grey), while the Rolls-Royce Phantom might not be classically beautiful it sure as hell is mighty imposing and grand. It's also probably what anyone thinks of when they consider the classic shape and premise of a Rolls-Royce, despite this brand's diversification into new market areas in recent years.

Inside is flawless. Totally flawless. Sure, you can make observations about how the Rolls' infotainment is basically a thinly-reskinned version of something called iDrive, and you might even lament the lack of theatre; there's no rotating dashboard here, as you might find in that other high-end British marque that Dare Not Speak Its Name, although you could also counter that the Roller's Gallery (the passenger-side dash display, in this instance rendered in Cascade Steel) and the satnav screen popping up behind a glass frontage are enough visual razzmatazz for this most dignified of marques. Nevertheless, the sheer sumptuous quality of it, the splendour of the materials used, the absolutely vast cabin space that makes the EWB version seem a total frippery, those preposterously thick lambswool carpets and, of course, the Starlight Headliner (it's just LEDs behind perforated leather but, by crikey, it really is spectacular) all add up to make clambering into the Phantom's cabin an experience unlike any you'll enjoy in another motor vehicle.

One addendum: after this drive, we're not quite sure why the contentious Cullinan was strictly necessary, because you sit so high and mighty behind the Phantom's elegant thin-rimmed steering wheel, peering out over that ginormous flat prow, that you feel like you're in an SUV anyway.

How does it drive?

The Phantom's 'eureka' moment, such as it was, during our time with it came on a soggy early-spring night. Facing the usual schlep down to Heathrow airport from the northern bits of the English East Midlands, the drizzle and dark was compounded by the fact that news was filtering in that the M1 was shut in Northamptonshire. That meant going down the A1 instead, then veering across towards LHR from Hatfield round St Albans. With the Phants having silked (not even sure if this is a verb but we're making it one for the Roller) its way down to Peterborough in short order, it then transpired the A1 was closed as well. Which ultimately meant that, for a good portion of the journey, the Phantom's gilded nose was pointing at Ipswich down the A14 - not ideal when your end target is in the vicinity of Hounslow.

And do you know what? It simply didn't matter. Didn't care that we were doing 180 miles and faddling around on the A1198 and A505 at Royston. Wasn't bothered by the persistent rain. Stodgy traffic flow made little difference. When you're in a Phantom, it's as if you really are a ghost and the physical world outside, with all its stresses and strains, has simply ceased to be.

The Phantom is extraordinary, glorious, majestic, magnificent, marvellous. . . all the superlatives you can fling its way, to be honest. It soaks up absolutely everything: those foam-filled tyres negate any hint that the car is connected to something as hideous as the road surface, what must be simply enormous wads of sound-deadening eradicate even the merest whispers generated by the Phantom's bluff frontal area barging its way through the airstream (case in point: the R-R returned 19.9mpg overall and a best economy of 24mpg - both ridiculously good for something with its lack of concession to aerodynamics), the monstrous biturbo 6.75-litre V12 makes nary a murmur to disturb your tranquil serenity in the most plush, plump and pleasant seats we've ever sat on - and we're not just talking about within cars, here.

The Phantom oozes and floats and glides its way across whatever road you're showing it. Its handling is maybe not the greatest in the world, despite its clever aluminium Architecture of Luxury frame making it less than 2.6 tonnes in weight regardless of its form and multitudinous interior fittings, but things like four-wheel steering and nicely weighted controls actually make the Roller a lot easier to pilot than you might think looking at its footprint. It's also decently quick, the V12 summoning up a distant and incredibly muted roar when you disgracefully ask the Phantom for full thrust, watching as that 'Power Reserve' meter swings backwards towards zero. But, realistically, rather than revving a Roller, you're better off unfurling two turbos and twelve cylinders' worth of torque out like a red carpet when you want to make 'hastened progress'. The Phantom delivers a goliath 900Nm without the merest hint of thump or transmission shunt or fuss and aggravation.

To travel in a Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII is not to travel at all. We did 384 miles and eight hours in it, and not a single second or inch of that ever felt like anything other than an unmitigated delight. Seriously. What. A. Motor. Car.

Verdict

If you want the fastest car in the world, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is not it. If you want the sharpest-handling car in the world, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is not it. If you want the most accessible car in the world, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is not it. If you want the easiest car to park, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is not it. But if you want the best car in the world. . . you're looking at it right here. This thing is transcendental, operating at a level above and beyond anything else that rolls along on two, three, four, six or whatever number of tyres you care to choose. Never has nearly half-a-million quid looked like such a reasonable amount of outlay.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

5 5 5 5 5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 11 Mar 2019









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2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.

2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Standard Wheelbase. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.








 

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