Whisper it softly, but the quietest and most technically advanced Rolls-Royce Phantom ever was launched in London tonight.
The flagship Rolls-Royce is designed to whisk the world’s wealthiest around in near silence and the lap of luxury – and it comes with its own dashboard art gallery for those who can afford the £350,000 price tag.
The new Phantom even paves the way for a future all-electric Rolls-Royce, ready to comply with Government moves to ban the sale of new ‘conventional’ petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040.
On the basis that silence is golden and the new Phantom limousine is ‘a work of art’, Rolls-Royce say their new Phantom is ‘the most silent motor car in the world’ and the quietest Rolls-Royce ever made –at least for the pampered chauffeur-driven occupant in the back.
The launch was hailed as another big vote of confidence in Britain – with the big Roller exported around the globe and considered the pinnacle of British automotive craftsmanship.
Bosses at Rolls-Royce’s parent company BMW – which earlier this week announced they were building an electric Mini in the UK – said the new Phantom demonstrated that they remain ‘fully committed to the future of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’, based at Goodwood, in West Sussex.
Beneath the Phantom’s smart suit lies some serious engineering.
The new limousine’s ‘revolutionary’ flexible chassis design can also be used for a variety of future models – including ‘those with different propulsion systems’ such as an electric drive-train, said Rolls-Royce.
It will also underpin the forthcoming Rolls-Royce 4X4 – codenamed ‘Project Cullinan’ after the diamond used in the Crown Jewels – and also the next generation Ghost, Wraith, and Dawn models as well as future bespoke ‘coach-build’ projects.
But it’s what’s on show that matters to most Rolls-Royce owners, especially those buying the new Phantom, who are likely to be spending considerably more time in the back than on the driver’s seat, enjoying the smooth ‘magic carpet ride’ that is its hallmark.
The Phantom allows connoisseurs and collectors of fine art to quietly contemplate in silence their own specially commissioned artworks, set behind a long stretch of protective glass on the dashboard, allowing the luxury limousine to doubles as an art gallery on wheels.
If the owner does sit behind the wheel they shouldn’t be disappointed – and nor will the chauffeur who takes it out for a spin.
Thanks to the powerful all new 6.75 litre twin-turbo V12 engine, which bosses call ‘the silently beating heart of the new Phantom’, the car has a top speed electronically restricted to 155mph and sports car acceleration, getting from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds.
The chauffeured passenger can look up to see the largest Starlight 'headliner' ever seen in a Rolls-Royce, comprising pinpricks of light in the roof.
He or she is surrounded by high gloss and exquisitely tactile' wood panelling in the door interiors, centre consoles, dashboard and picnic tables. The armrests are inspired by the classic J-Class yacht.
The sweep of wood panelling across the back of the front seats are influenced by the famous Eames Lounge Chair of 1956 which is part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent display.
Phantom customers have a choice of seats: including the more intimate lounge seat, individual seats with an occasional armrest, or fixed centre console, plus the newly introduced 'sleeping seat'.
On top of that, the rear seats are carefully angled so that passengers can talk to each other without straining their necks. The fixed rear centre console incorporates a drinks cabinet with whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and cool-box.
Rear picnic tables and screens are cleverly secreted behind the wood panelling on the rear of the front seats and can be electrically deployed and retracted at the touch of a button.
Every item of switchgear is made from metal, glass, or wrapped in the finest leather.
Rolls-Royce took the wraps off its latest new Phantom flagship limousine, at a glitzy VIP party in London’s Mayfair. It is the eighth in an illustrious line stretching back 92 years – and was joined by its seven predecessors at a special exhibition of ‘The Great Eight Phantoms’.
Significantly, it is only the second Phantom since German car maker BMW took control of the company, launching the Phantom VII in 2003, which it built at its then brand new boutique factory in the grounds of the Earl of March’s Goodwood estate, near Chichester.
Rolls-Royce said the new Phantom’s flexible ‘all-aluminium space-frame’ chassis will ‘underpin every future Rolls-Royce’ and that the new Phantom sets ‘a new benchmark’ in luxury, comfort and refinement, and is lighter, quieter, and 30 per cent stiffer than its predecessor'.
Keeping the noise down was a major task of Rolls-Royce engineers and designers – from the powerful but quieter new engine, to thicker 6mm two-layer glazing all around the car, 130kg of sound-deadening acoustic insulation around the cabin, foam-filled tyres, and soft-touch self-closing doors.
A spokesman stressed: ‘The new Phantom is the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce ever.
‘Incalculable effort was expended to create ‘the most silent motor car in the world’.
It provides an all-round ‘perfect 360° cocooning effect’ in a motor car that is approximately 10 per cent quieter than its predecessor at 62mph.
A spokesman said: ‘It means conversation within the car is completely effortless’.
The company notes: ‘As the patron settles in to the car, an assistant or valet steps forward and lightly touches the sensor on the door handle so it whispers closed of its own accord.
'From one’s position on beautifully enhanced rear seats, the occupant is borne along in near-silence as if on a pillow of air, thanks to much enhanced ride and acoustic comfort.
‘Indeed, when Rolls-Royce’s acoustic test engineer first reviewed results road and vibration tests, the sound levels were so low they had to check their instruments were calibrated correctly.’
Rolls-Royce also worked closely with its tyre supplier to invent ‘Silent-Seal' tyres which have a foam layer inside to wipe to reduce overall tyre noise by 9
The dashboard art ‘Gallery’ also houses an analogue clock – a nod to the fact that it is ‘the loudest sound you can hear in a Rolls-Royce’.
Technology is also in abundance, with a central information screen which can be retracted behind the centre stack when not in use.
Satellite Aided Transmission linked to a 8-speed automatic gearbox ‘also ensures that the driver is prepared for whatever the road has in store for them’.
Self-levelling air suspension 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.
Meanwhile, a ‘Flagbearer’ system – evocative of those men required by law to carry a red flag walking ahead of early motor cars – adds a stereo camera in the windscreen to scan the road ahead, adjusting suspension ahead of time at speeds of up to 62mph.
New headlamps include the most advanced laser-light system of any car that at night casts light 600 metres down the road.
The design of the Phantom updates the car but shows it as very much a Rolls-Royce, echoing the looks of its cars over recent years.
The new Phantom’s grille, created from hand-polished stainless steel, is for the first time integrated into the surrounding bodywork to create a cleaner and contemporary design. It is also raised higher than on the previous model, resulting in the Spirit of Ecstasy standing half-an-inch higher.
There are nods to the past, particularly at the rear with its 'tapered tail' and raked glass, says design chief Giles Taylor: 'The design evokes the beautiful flowing rears of the 1950’s and 1960’s Phantoms.’
Also evoking the Phantom’s past was Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös. He said: ‘From its debut in 1925, a Rolls-Royce Phantom has been the choice of the world’s most influential and powerful men and women.’