The Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII: Drive or be driven?
10:05

The Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII: Drive or be driven?

Cars
[SOUND] [BLANK_AUDIO] [BLANK_AUDIO]. Our world is filled with noise and chaos, an overwhelming torrent of sights and sounds penetrates our consciousness seemingly constantly. With sensory stimulation cascading into his day and night it can be hard to keep hold of a single thought. Hard to focus, hard even just to think. Sometimes there can be nothing more valuable than just a little silence.. And there is no better place to do that than from the back seat of a Rolls Royce Phantom. For over ninety years the Phantom Has serviced the ultra wealthy, royalty and celebrities. And giving them a place of respite. Someone to get away from it all. And so far, the story of the Phantom has had seven chapters. And this is the beginning of the chapter eight. For over ninety years the phantom has been predominately sold to the passenger in the rear seats. Typically the owner of the phantom wanted to be driven and the whole driving experience was catered towards that. Rolls-Royce however is changing. Now, the average age of a Rolls-Royce customer is 39. And even with the Phantom, more and more are being bought by customers who don't want to sit in the back but rather up front. So this, the eighth generation Phantom has been built with that in mind. No longer purely designed for a professional chauffeur to drive, now the person up front is just as demanding as the passenger. And everything from the ground up has been built with that principle in mind. And it starts with the chassis. This is built on an all new platform. One that will under pin all new Rolls Royce's. Is monumentally stiffer than it's predecessor and could have given Rolls Royce a chunky way saving. But instead of taking that Rolls Royce has re added back in sound defeating. So the way the car comes right back up where it used to be at two and a half. Tons, but that extra effort pays off with noise being reduced an extra 10% making this the quietest it absolutely could be. The tires are also playing ball here. Continental developed over a 100 Prototypes before the tyre was perfected with the right soft compound of rubber, the right interior structure and the minimum amount of road noise. Add to that the tricks that the Phantom already had, like double thickness glass in the windows. And the end result is quieter than it would be possible to imagine. Despite that extra weight though, the Phantom is no slouch. This car will be nippier than the previous one, mainly thanks to the all-new 6.75-liter twin turbo-charged V12. Horsepower is up over a hundred from the previous car, up to 563. You get over 664 foot pounds of torque and thanks to those turbo charges, you can get it as low down as 1700 rpm. The powerband only lasts up to 2500 rpm, but thanks to the eight speed ZF gear box, you've got more then enough opportunity To use it to it's full extent. The handling has also improved. The new phantom has all wheel steer, much like the new Event Store or 911 GT3 RS. This allows the rear wheels to countersteer up to three degrees at low to medium speeds. It effectively shortens the wheel base And very quickly, you could notice how agile it makes the car, which is undeniably huge. Tight, twisty mountain roads become a doddle as, right from the turn in, all the way round the bend, you can hold a single input in the steering as the rear comes around, rotating the car elegantly through the bends. At high speed the rears turn with the front to allow for more stability when changing lanes. The new suspension setup really lets you take advantage of that steering as well. There's always a compromise between comfort and performance in suspension. And in previous generation of Phantom The soft, wallowy nature that could soak up those bumps on those straights made tight, twisty corners a little bit unsettling. It would require a really skilled driver not to upset the car. But now, there's still that great softness, that great comfort on the straights, but if you get into some twisties, and you really start to dig in, the car still remains level. It's a very sophisticated system that keeps the car stiff when it needs to be, yet compliant when it wants to. It allows you to come into a turn hard, turning on the braking, and the car just deals with it. It just says, Yes, I can deal with that. What else can you throw at me? The brakes themselves are incredibly capable, giving you, if you need it, the ability to stop the Phantom dead in its tracks. Significantly better than you'd expect from a car this size. The brake pedal, however, has been set up with a large amount of travel. When first driving it, it can feel like the brakes aren't working fully as the initial hit doesn't actually do much. Quickly though, you learn that that extra travel allows you to be ultra precise with your braking Making sure you use all of the available roads and upset the car as little as possible. Once you figured that out, you can drive the Phantom with a lot more confidence and really start to have some fun with it. Now the throttle response in a Rolls-Royce has been absolutely meticulously calibrated for smoothness of power deliberate. Although you have more than you would every need in this car, it's not a twitchy throttle. The whole point is to deliver it smoothly and elegantly And there's something about the car is set up. The way your feeling it. That you want to drive smoothly whether you are the chauffeur of a multi billionaire sat in the back seat or that person themselves. If you want to, you put your foot down the speed comes and it comes, Quick. The top speed will be unbelievably high if it wasn't limited to 155 and you can get there pretty quickly. You're not gonna win any drag races in this thing, but you're certainly gonna leave people in the dust if you tried. But That's not the point. The performance is there just merely to move the bulk of this thing with effortless ease down the road. All of that comfort and performance though, would be firmly undermined if the car didn't look the part and luckily It does. The new design features the Pantheon grille that, for the first time, has been fully integrated into the front of the car rather than mounted on it. It's also the largest ever fitted to a Rolls Royce. It gives the car an incredibly imposing face that's going to be hard to miss. Its almost fully flat, incredibly tall, monolithic front is a statement in its own right. All the key lines either return back on themselves, like the metal strip around the windshield, or fade towards the rear, with coach lines and metal creases fading away to nothing as they sweep to the rear. The back looks similar to the boat tail motif that adorns some of the most exclusive cars of the past, and tapers the car off slightly to reduce the bulk at the rear. It's not a subtle car but neither does it scream too loudly. It quietly arrives and announces itself, and basks in the admiration of all that see it. Now the quality if the interior is an area where Rolls Royce arguably had the least amount to improve, and certainly everything you touch and smell is the highest possible quality. It's a really, [LAUGH] really nice place to be, and it always has been. But the infotainment system was definitely a place where Rolls-Royce needed to step up. The previous Phantom was getting a little bit long in the tooth in that regard, and Rolls-Royce have stepped up. The new system, which Inherits a lot from parent company BMW, is a pleasure to use and although there's things like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are of course missing, the bespoke nature fits in with the whole theme of the car. You can control the media from the front or the back and it's a pleasure to behold. And the sound system in this thing is absolutely phenomenal. If you like your Pink Floyd this is the best place on the planet to listen to it. But there is one key addition to this car that makes this generation of Phantom different. And might have an impact on how this car is perceived in the future. Sealed behind this large piece of uninterrupted glass. It's not only the instrument binnacles and the infotainment system, but a piece of art that customers can commission from Any artist, or any idea that they have, the flexibility of it is endless. This is a blank canvas for customers to completely make their car their own. It's hard to convey just how much this will affect the car in the future. Now, if you imagine in 30, 40, 50 years time, when cars like this might be sat on the green at Pebble Beach, the [UNKNOWN] system will have dated. The screens will seem laughably old. But the ability to retract them and reveal this gorgeous artwork behind it gives the car a timeless quality while also being up to date. It'll be really interesting to see what customers do, who they work with, which artist get involved and how creative people can be with this opportunity. The Phantom VII was the first under the watchful eyes of new owners BMW back in 2003. It was a chance to see how the Germans could help this iconically British brand survive and thrive. And to show people like you and me if between them they could still make a car that could be called the best in the world. After a successful run of 14 years, Rolls Royce now seems to have the firm note of approval from BMW to carry on the way they are going and launch themselves into the new chapter of the BMW era. [MUSIC] The new improvement to the phantom make it for me a car that's truly as much fun to drive as to be a passenger in the back and that's saying something considering how comfortable it is to be back there. But it's the platform that under pins it all that points at something really interesting for the future. Whether we see it in the new SUV or whatever else Rolls Royce will surprise us with in future. Is indeed looking bright. [MUSIC]

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