The use of very slightly flared wheel arches suggests that there is a next-generation drivetrain under the skin of this test car, but it also shows that that the wheelbase of the next Phantom will be virtually identical to the current model.
With BMW’s next generation 7-series also seen testing on public roads around the company’s Munich HQ, it seems likely that this Phantom is involved in developing some of the driveline components it will share with BMW’s upcoming flagship.
Given the amount of flexibility the Rolls Royce engineering team has to modify and originate unique components, one of the few completely common parts is likely to be a hybrid drivetrain.
Components such as the automatic transmission with its integrated electric motor, the complex control electronics and the battery packs are likely to be shared with the new 7-series, which is thought to be at least 18 months from the showroom.
The new Phantom is not expected to be seen before late 2017. In an interview with Autocar earlier this year Rolls’ design chief Giles Taylor said he had ‘already started sketching ideas’ for the new car.
“I don’t feel boxed in by the [existing] design," he said "We are treading an evolutionary path and have a defining vision of modernity. The Wraith was all about modernising the brand. The fastback profile has a contemporary relevance.
"We are working on how to lay down what we call a ‘charismatic expressiveness’ for our future design language.”
Discussing his team’s thinking on the new Phantom, Taylor strongly suggested that it would be less formal looking.