Rolls-Royce pulled the silk of its all-new eighth-generation Phantom flagship sedan July 27, revealing a familiar shape packed with cutting-edge new technology and tributes to luxury limousines of yore.
For example, while Phantom VIII hearkens back to its 92-year heritage with its tall, skinny grille and imposing styling, it also boasts a not-at-all-imposing sound. Yes, much attention has been paid to the Phantom’s acoustic qualities, and the new car is said to be near-silent both from the interior and exterior of the vehicle.
In fact, Rolls-Royce calls its Phantom “the most silent motor car in the world” after integrating several sound insulation measures into the vehicle’s body, including 6-mm two-layer glazing all around the car; more than 130 kilograms of sound insulation; the largest-ever cast-aluminum chassis joints; double-skin alloy sandwiching dense foam and felt layers on areas of the floor and bulkhead; and high-absorption foam layers within the headliner, doors, and trunk.
But Rolls’ sound engineers didn’t stop there—they also turned to the vehicles tires, working with Germany’s Continental Tire to develop an all-new sound-isolating tire. Dubbed ‘Silent-Seal’ tires, the new rubber integrates a layer of sound-absorbing foam within its belts to reduce tire cavity noise and overall tire noise by a staggering 9db.
So quiet is the new Phantom that Rolls-Royce says its acoustic test engineer thought his test instruments were out of calibration when analysing the results of his initial sound checks, which barely registered any tire or wind noise at all.
Rolls-Royce says all this makes for a “360° cocooning effect,” elaborating that the new Phantom is approximately 10 percent quieter than its predecessor at 100 km/h.
The V12 heart of the new Phantom was also tuned to reduce cabin noise levels; the addition of its twin-turbochargers helps in this regard, as turbos generally mask induction noise and muffle exhaust while endowing the engine with better low-end torque, thus keeping the revs down and further reducing the engine’s sound signature.
Rolls-Royce says the V12 fitted in its new Phantom is entirely new, though it still measures 6.75-litres in a nod to tradition.
The new all-aluminum mill produces 563 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque at a very low 1,700 rpm, “resulting in calm low-speed progress associated with state occasions and an unfussed surge of power when one needs to press on,” says Rolls-Royce in its press release.
A new smooth-shifting ZF eight-speed gearbox transmits power to the ground with the help of GPS-based “Satellite Aided Transmission” tech, which prepares the transmission in the appropriate gear based on upcoming elevation changes as noted in the downloaded roadmap.
Rolls-Royce installed a powerful new onboard computer and electronic network in its Phantom—in fact, Rolls says the Phantom’s electronic architecture is the “largest ever component produced by the BMW Group, let alone Rolls-Royce,” thus establishing the brand’s new flagship as one of the world’s most technologically advanced cars.
The onboard computer and integrated electronic system works like a nervous system, connecting and controlling all of the vehicle’s advanced intelligence and control systems, including the Alertness Assistant; four-camera system with Panoramic View and helicopter view; Night Vision; Vision Assist; Active Cruise Control; collision warning; pedestrian warning; cross-traffic warning; lane departure and lane change warning; 7×3 high-resolution head-up display; WiFi hot-spot; navigation system; and entertainment systems.
This technological tour de force also boasts an updated version of Rolls-Royce’s Magic Carpet Ride suspension system, now equipped with proactive adjustable damping.
Using an integrated camera system to scan the road ahead for surface undulations, the suspension system softens its shock absorbers before the Phantom’s polished 22-inch wheels ever contact a bump in the road, swallowing up choppy roads with incredible grace and poise.
Making its Rolls-Royce debut is four-wheel steering, which will shrink up the Phantom’s turning radius at low speeds while adding further stability at high speeds. Chauffeurs rejoice.
All of the above rests upon what Rolls-Royce calls its “Architecture of Luxury”—an all-new, all-aluminum space-frame designed in-house by Rolls-Royce engineers.
Pivotal to the dynamics, safety, appearance, acoustics and presence of the car, the Phantom’s new space-frame laid the foundation for what was possible in creating the eighth generation of what’s long been heralded as “the world’s best car”—or at least the world’s most stylish, luxurious car.
Rolls pulled no punches when describing the rationale behind the creation of its new bespoke space-frame, taking a shot across the bow at Bentley, its closest British competition.
“Whilst the majority of so-called luxury manufacturers are limited to sharing individual platforms in a specific sector with mass brands for, say, their SUV or GT offerings, thereby introducing unacceptable compromise, Rolls-Royce will be uncompromising in only using its own architecture across all its motor cars, whatever the sector,” quipped Rolls-Royce in its press release.
(Bentley’s new Bentayga SUV shares its platform with Audi’s Q7 and Porsche’s next-generation Cayenne, and while VW Group’s new MLB platform constitutes an excellent foundation with which to work from, it is in no way special or bespoke.)
Rolls-Royce also designed its “Architecture of Luxury” space-frame to be modular to some extent, underpinning future variations of the Phantom including the Drophead Coupe; Project Cullinan SUV; future custom coach-build projects; and the shorter wheelbase next-generation Ghost, Wraith, and Dawn luxury cars. But the brand will keep its space-frame in-house, exclusive to cars bearing the Spirit of Ecstasy.
Starting with a clean slate also meant having the freedom to change external dimensions and proportions. With such creative freedom in hand, designers raised the nose of the new Phantom such that the hood-line sits 12.7-mm higher than it previously did on the Phantom Mk VII.
“Phantom VII’s space-frame architecture was a good starting point and inspiration, but we wanted to do much more,” said Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce director of design.
“The Architecture of Luxury gives me the canvas to protect the lineage and brand integrity of Rolls-Royce without compromise.”
Moving even further from the modern trend of platform-, part- and even drivetrain-sharing, Rolls-Royce says it’s tapped highly exclusive suppliers that can provide small-batch materials and components, ensuring the highest levels of quality.
A new addition to the four-dour Phantom is “The Embrace”—a button-actuated door-closing mechanism that gently closes the front and rear doors, like a gentle hug from the car’s gargantuan slabs of aluminum.
As Rolls-Royce puts it, in The Embrace, “the door automatically whispers closed of its own accord, enveloping the occupant in ‘The Embrace’ of the World’s Leading Luxury Item.”
In a final stroke of artistic genius, Rolls-Royce decided to customize the dash of its Phantom cars to include works of art, fixed behind a glass covering to preserve the artwork.
Rolls-Royce calls its new dashboard art display “The Gallery,” and it will work with customers to commission and install custom, original works of art. Alternatively, customers can choose from a variety of serial artworks that Rolls will pre-install upon request.
“In the 18th century, miniatures were highly fashionable and valuable items of art that allowed their owners to carry images of their loved one with them wherever they travelled. I really loved that idea of taking your art with you, when travelling, and so I acted on it,” said Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce director of design.
“Now, our clients will be able to do the same.”
The eighth-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom will reach Canadian shores next year, with a sticker price starting on the warm side of $400,000.