It is the Phantom that comes first for the new era of Rolls, with company boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös calling the fourdoor saloon “the pinnacle” of Rolls-Royce, the ultimate expression of the Rolls-Royce brand and the very top of the range, despite the growing popularity of SUVs.
“We start from the pinnacle, that is never different,” he said. “The first task is to get this car perfect, then Cullinan, then future models as well.”
Insight: behind the scenes of the 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom
Rolls engineering chief Philip Koehn said the new architecture, called Architecture of Luxury, and the technology within it helps to create an “unprecedented blend” of ride comfort and stability. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged 6.75-litre V12 engine, while the car’s design is one of “effortless elegance”, according to styling boss Giles Taylor.
The all-new aluminium spaceframe used by the new Phantom results in a significant 30% increase in rigidity over that of the previous car. Rolls-Royce says the body is the stiffest in production, and it has required a huge investment in new technology for riveting and spot welding in order for it to build it. The architecture is one that is bespoke to Rolls and has no BMW content.
The architecture is also much lighter than the outgoing car's, although the Phantom’s kerb weight increases from 2550kg to 2625kg due to the vast amount of new technology added to the four-door.
There are new front and rear axle designs and air suspension with greatly improved travel at each corner. Double wishbones are used up front, with a multilink axle at the rear. Koehn said the ‘magic carpet’ ride “has been taken to the next level” thanks to these new designs and the stiffer body-in-white.
Rolls-Royce Phantom: eight generations of luxury
However, Koehn promised that the enhanced ride quality has not been achieved to the detriment of handling, which is a key area Rolls wanted to improve on the new Phantom. To that end, a new 48V electrical architecture has been fitted, alongside chassis technology including active stabiliser bars to stop roll and four-wheel steering both to improve stability and agility and reduce the turning circle.
“This technology adds both stability and ride comfort for an unprecedented blend,” Koehn said, adding that the Phantom was now “rewarding behind the wheel as well as in the rear”. A new softer tyre compound from Continental, complete with its own sound deadening, has been made for the Phantom’s 21in front and 22in rear wheels to complete its dynamic armoury.