It’s not so hard to believe, is it? Rolls-Royce claims to have reduced cabin noise by as much 75% over the old Phantom, which itself was no heavy metal concert, and it has supposedly improved the driving experience, too. That’s of more significance than you might imagine, given the surprisingly high proportion of Phantom owners who actually take to the sizeable three-spoke wheel of their cars.
The new Phantom is perhaps a mite softer in its geometry and is notable for the tightness of its shutlines and the growth of its hand-polished 'Pantheon’ grille, which is also more smoothly integrated into the surrounding bodywork. For the record, the Spirit of Ecstasy now sits half an inch further from the road.
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Having already sampled the Rolls-Royce's new flagship abroad, we’ve rather looked forward to getting the Phantom on UK roads, not least because Rolls-Royce makes some whopping claims about its ride quality. The suspension apparently makes ‘millions’ of calculations every second, reacting not only to physical inputs but also information from a windscreen-mounted camera. The eight-speed gearbox also uses satellite data to prepare for the road ahead, and there’s a layer of foam within the vast tyres to ameliorate roar.
This, we suppose, is precisely what you’d want to hear if you were spending roughly £400,000 on a car, but is it borne out on the road?
Achieving any good level of stirring with boring old refinement is a much harder task and far rarer to witness. It can be equally gratifying, however, and that’s the case here, with a twin-turbo V12 that idles low enough to have you checking for signs of life, at near 650rpm.
Drive sensibly and you’ll make ample progress without ever leaving anything less than seven tenths as back-up, although mashing your foot into the inch-and-a-half-thick pile of the carpet will make 60mph come up in 5.1sec. That’s quick enough to leave our current favourite hot hatch, the Honda Civic Type R, for dead and evidence of more than 660lb ft of torque from just 1700rpm.
British roads versus all-new Phantom, then – hardly a fair fight? In general, no, not really. This car debuts a fresh, more torsionally rigid all-aluminium spaceframe platform for Rolls-Royce. From it are hung air springs with adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars. There’s also four-wheel steering, which in this instance is less about realising the last word in agility than it is making this 5.76 metre-long car tolerably manoeuvrable on tighter roads.
You quickly realise that the broad, flat seats are a statement of intent. There’s precious little bolstering because the expectation is that you’ll never need it. Endless modes for the steering, suspension and engine are also wonderfully conspicuous by their absence, and so you settle into driving the car in the precise manner in which it would like to be driven. That is with an economy of gesture and a heart rate commensurate with the ultra-low idle of the engine.
The paradox is that even as the person at the wheel, you won’t ache to be back in those cars like you will the Phantom. Its anechoic properties are unrivalled, and with 130kg of sound-deadening materials, it possesses an ability to make motorway speeds feel pedestrian in a way that is genuinely spooky – and addictive.
On sale Now Price £360,000 Engine V12, 6.75 litres, twin-turbocharged petrol Power 563bhp at 5000rpm Torque 664lb ft at 1700rpm Gearbox 8-spd auto Kerbweight 2560kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.1sec Fuel economy 20.3mpg CO2 318g/km RivalsBentley Mulsanne, Mercedes-Benz S-Class