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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

Although it has been written on countless occasions that the loudest thing inside the cabin of a moving Rolls-Royce is the ticking of the analogue clock on the fascia, it’s not strictly true here.

That’s not, however, because there’s sufficient noise ingress in the Phantom to drown out such a thing; far from it. It’s because the clock in this car doesn’t ‘tick’ at all. It has no second hand. And even if it did, you can bet it’d be truly in keeping with everything else about this car – by being the quietest-operating in-car time-keeping instrument you’ve ever encountered.

The move to electromechanical steering from hydraulic has been executed almost perfectly.

The Phantom’s mechanical refinement is genuinely incredible and totally exceptional. Sitting in the front seats as we habitually do to measure a car’s noise level, just a few feet from an idling 6.7-litre V12, you’ll genuinely struggle to hear that engine at all. It isn’t that it’s quiet: measured at 34dB, it’s as good as silent, since the ambient open-air hum of most modern urban environments will register higher than that on a noise meter.

At a 70mph cruise, the Phantom produces just 60dB of cabin noise, split fairly evenly between distant road noise and gentle wind rustle, with the engine almost inaudible except when it’s called upon to knuckle down. Both the Mulsanne we tested in 2011 and the S350 Bluetec we benchmarked in 2013 produced fully 3dB more (and remember, at that level, half a decibel of extra background hum is enough to be noticeable).

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When you open one of the Phantom’s double-glazed windows at that speed, you feel like you might have inadvertently cracked the pressurised cabin door on a cruising private jet. ‘Splendid isolation’ is a concept that could have been coined for this car.

For the driver, the car’s pedals are perfectly metered for spiriting the car into motion in genteel fashion, and stopping it again with totally flawless control and utter discretion. Few cars are as easy to drive smoothly as a Phantom once you’ve grown used to its sheer size.

There is real power and urgent acceleration available too, of course; a progressive swell of pace building gradually, but deliberately, in proportion to the position of your right foot, which gets the big car surging forwards quickly long before the revs rise too high. There is no rev counter here by which to check how hard the engine is working.

In full flight, the car squats on its hindquarters a little, but less than you might think, and raises its voice just loud enough to reveal the immaculate mechanical pedigree of that engine. When required, the Phantom can hit 100mph from rest in less than 12sec, and go from 30mph to 70mph through the gears in just 4.4sec. That’s scarcely believable for a 2.8-tonne super-luxury car – and faster in both cases than the Ford Focus RS we performance tested in 2016.