Luxury knows no bounds, and that’s exactly how Rolls-Royce likes it. Last month, the eighth-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom—a full-sized uber-luxury saloon car that bears a historic badge dating back to 1925—was unveiled in Manila for the first time.
“It’s a motor car simply without parallel—chosen by rock stars, royalty, visionaries, leaders, and icons in their field,” declared Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manila General Manager Miguelito Jose in a speech during the launch at the Maybank Performing Arts Center in Bonifacio Global City.
Autohub Group President Willy Tee Ten waxed poetic about the Phantom, describing it as “so superlative as to defy definition. A new benchmark will be set… through its design, hand-made craftsmanship, and engineering excellence. With the new Rolls-Royce Phantom, we raise the bar again for delivering a whole new level of magic carpet ride, in an all-new, totally bespoke Architecture of Luxury.”
Rolls-Royce does not drop the words “one of one” lightly, and as the Phantom truly epitomizes the height of bespoke luxury, the descriptor is well earned. Aside from its understandably rarefied pricing, the unparalleled experience, and myriad of customization options make the nameplate extremely close to a one-off mode of transport.
The all-new Phantom doesn’t merely make heads turn or jaws drop; you realize that people are actually captivated by it. Surely, they process the sight of this hefty beauty while trying to make out who the lucky soul within is.
That is something I was blessed to experience for myself three months ago in Tokyo, Japan when I attended the sneak preview of Rolls-Royce’s first-ever SUV, the Cullinan. Aside from the presentation of the vehicle, I had my druthers with an extended wheelbase Phantom, part of a, well, one-of-one itinerary.
Stretching a luxury liner-like six meters, this Phantom is huge and stately. You could be forgiven to expect Queen Elizabeth II peering from the rear window because it would be most apropos.
So, when Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited Asia Pacific’s Brendan Mok almost nonchalantly said to me: “You can take the wheel” while handing me the key fob, I fought off a nervous reaction to decline because, well, it’s the Phantom. The Japanese drive on the left side on the road, and this unit was a left-hand driver. Gulp. But exactly because this is a car that not many people get to ride, let alone drive, I welcomed fate, muttered thanks, and opened the door.
“The Embrace” is Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Design Director Giles Taylor’s vision for the new Phantom where “nothing detracts from calmness and tranquility in this particular sanctuary. Technology is hidden until required, spaces and surfaces are clean, and the eye rests only on beauty as if in an art gallery.”
“Cocoon” is a word oft used to describe the Phantom—and rightfully so. Once you close the door, you are essentially cut off from the chaos and noise outside. If you had been fortunate enough to ride in the previous generation, this one’s 10-percent quieter than that one—thanks to an astounding 130 kilos of sound-deadening material. Additionally, double-skin alloy is used on areas within the floor and bulkhead, and even more absorbent materials are packed between these sheets.
Meanwhile, the extreme exclusivity extends to the aforementioned Architecture of Luxury—a light yet strong all-aluminum spaceframe that allows the Phantom to have more of all the things you need and want without increasing the weight of the vehicle. As a result, more than 800 engineers in Goodwood managed to make so much more out of the car that essentially weighs as much as its predecessor.
From the lambswool matting, to adjusting the A/C setting from your seat at the back, this kind of pampering is unequaled. Thirsty? Pop open the drinks cabinet and pour yourself a bubbly in the excellently stowed Rolls-Royce champagne flutes, or just sit back and turn on the chair massage (with heating) function. While you’re at it, why not look up and… oh-what-the-heck-is-that? Oh, you mean those “stars” on the ceiling? That’s the full-length Starlight Headliner “depicting the night sky.” Around 1,300 optic-fiber LEDs are individually handstitched into the ceiling and, in true Rolls-Royce fashion, can be customized to preference. You could depict your unicorn company’s logo, have your name spelled out, or even a constellation of choice. Surprise and challenge the people at Goodwood; they welcome it.
The newest bespoke innovation is called the Gallery, “a notion that reinterprets the motor car’s dashboard for the first time in 100 years. A piece of hardened glass spans the entire length of the dashboard… and sets the stage for patrons to display spectacular works of art if they desire.”
David Kim, Asia Pacific regional sales manager for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, told me that owners conceive of anything they want, and the Goodwood folks will work to achieve their vision in the hermetically sealed Gallery. Clearly, there is an abundance of wonders to enjoy in the Phantom. As mentioned, I had the honor of getting behind the wheel of this bucket-list vehicle. It proved compliant, unperturbed, and unimaginably smooth. You wouldn’t even believe it if someone told you the Phantom tips the scales at 6,040 pounds (with the standard wheelbase at 5,930 pounds). Underneath the long bonnet, just before the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy, dwells the 48-valve 6.75-liter V12 generously generating of 571ps and 900Nm—with the torque available at a low 1,700rpm.
This meant I didn’t have to be heavy-footed to realize torque. Acceleration ability, according to Rolls-Royce, is a sprightly zero-to-100kph in 5.4 seconds, with a top speed of 250kph. Through it all, the vaunted “Magic Carpet Ride” has never been better, says the carmaker. It now benefits from “self-leveling air suspension” which makes “millions of calculations every second as it continuously varies the electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system – reacting to body and wheel acceleration, steering inputs, and camera information.” Its so-called “Flagbearer” feature employs a stereo camera system integrated into the windshield to ascertain the road ahead, and helps the vehicle anticipate road conditions by “adjusting suspension proactively rather than reactively up to 100kph.”
All told, the result is an unmatched package that is, yes, one of one.