The current Rolls-Royce Phantom will end production at the end of this year, paving the way for the next-generation luxury saloon to arrive in around 2018.
Autocar understands the dropping of the Coupé and Drophead versions of the Phantom are part of a rationalisation of the Rolls-Royce range. Buyers seeking a Rolls-Royce coupé now have the Ghost and Wraith, while the recently launched Dawn caters for the convertible market. The Convertible and Coupé versions of the Phantom were launched in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
The final 50 versions of the Phantom Coupé and Drophead will be commemorated under the “Phantom Zenith” banner when they are built in November.
Owners of the Phantom Zenith models - many of which are expected to be Rolls-Royce collectors - will receive cars which feature laser-etched armrests depicting the launch locations of each car, bespoke instruments and a special Spirit of Ecstasy figure. A ‘money can’t buy’ portable memento is also promised.
Rolls-Royce design boss Giles Taylor said: “As the name promises, Zenith will be the pinnacle; the best of its kind; the highest standard achievable by which everything else is judged. Zenith will be the sum of all the best features of Phantom Coupé and Drophead Coupé, with a few surprises added. We expect huge demand for these 50 fine motor cars as we shall not look upon their like again.”
The next-generation Phantom will be the second of a new generation of Rolls-Royce models to switch to an all-aluminium architecture, which has already entered testing and will eventually underpin the entire model range. The first car to feature the new architecture will be the ‘Cullinan’ SUV.
Rolls-Royce is likely to choose a modern, evolutionary design for the new Phantom. Speaking to Autocar earlier this year, Taylor said the new model would come with “more charisma and more edge,” and wouldn’t be as formal looking as today’s car.
Among the many advantages brought by the new architecture will be the possibility of hybrid and electric powertrains - which are a near certainty for the next-generation Phantom. As many Phantoms spend their time in increasingly polluted cities, a low-emission variant of the next Phantom is seen as essential.
Also expected are the latest semi-autonomous driving systems, including lane assist and active steering, and a gesture-controlled and connected infotainment system.
Müller-Otvos said: “I am proud and excited to announce that a new Phantom is on the way – a contemporary and beautiful Phantom enhanced with cutting-edge technologies and design innovations. Any new Phantom is an historic and important moment in automotive history and we are working hard on perfecting the Phantom VIII.”
The current, seventh-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom was launched in 2003, so a replacement is long overdue.