Published on February 22nd, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Rolls-Royce Phantom Almost Used Luxury Review
The launch of the Rolls-Royce Phantom on 1 January 2003 was much more than the reveal of a new ultra-luxury car; it signalled the 21st Century renaissance of the world’s most famous luxury automobile brand and the first glimpse of a masterpiece that quickly established itself at the pinnacle of automotive excellence. From launch, the Rolls-Royce Phantom proved itself a worthy recipient of the famous Spirit of Ecstasy figurine. From Pantheon grille to long rear overhang, the design was clearly a Rolls-Royce. Every angle revealed a bold yet elegant car with road presence that was second to none.
For such an imposing car, Phantom surprised drivers with its agility and precision in motion while its ride was described by the company at the time as ‘designed to lower the pulse’. The magnificently sublime ride, famed through model generations, had returned and waftability re-affirmed itself in the company lexicon.
At the car’s core lay a ground-breaking, lightweight aluminium space-frame with power supplied by a sophisticated, direct-injection V12 engine, married to a six-speed auto gearbox. And complementing this excellence in engineering was Phantom’s beautiful interior, presenting hand-stitched sumptuous leathers, fine veneers and exquisite detailing, a combination that marked the car as something uniquely special.
A new world – Phantom Series II in summary
Today, Rolls-Royce presents Phantom Series II, a family of pinnacle cars that have been thoughtfully updated with the introduction of cutting-edge technology, enhancements to an already peerless drive-train and improvements in connectivity that reflect the changing world in which we live.
Phantom’s striking and modern front end best encapsulates the essence of changes that lie beneath, with re-styled bumpers and rectangular light apertures that frame full-LED light clusters. These allow the integration of new technologies like curve light functionality, where headlamp beams are reflected in the direction of travel to provide greater illumination of the road ahead when cornering. And adaptive headlamps, where light patterns change automatically and – of course – effortlessly in response to different driving speeds.
Phantom’s already sublime drive-train has also been enhanced. The addition of a new 8-speed automatic gearbox and rear differential perfectly complement the V12 direct injection engine, improving exemplary dynamics, as well as the famous Rolls-Royce promise of a magic carpet ride. Fuel consumption improves by 10 percent on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions fall from 385 to 347g/km as a consequence (388 to 349 for Phantom Extended Wheelbase).
Effortless is a word that perhaps best epitomises the Phantom experience, both for drivers and their passengers. So an improved user interface, as well as the addition of new driver assistance technologies, have been built on the foundation of a new electronics’ platform for Phantom Series II. The satellite navigation system, for example, has been fully updated with functions that include 3D map display with landscape topography, guided tours, as well as enhanced points of interest and composite route planning.
Audio visual content, satellite navigation maps and driver information is presented on Phantom’s new 8.8 inch control centre display, underlined by eight programmable bookmarks in chrome for optimum convenience in selecting key functions. Front, rear and top-view camera systems, further augment Phantom’s ease of use particularly when driving in tight urban environments. When reverse parking for example, rear path prediction automatically deploys on-screen.
These significant changes add further substance to a reputation Phantom has proudly built since launch of the signature Rolls-Royce back in 2003. It is a new world. But it’s a world in which the Rolls-Royce Phantom family will occupy a pinnacle position for many years to come.
Like a piece of inspirational music, the Rolls-Royce Phantom continues to delight an audience. Familiar melodies – classic design cues that can be traced through the model generations – are brought to life by an orchestra of craftspeople working at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, where attention to the finest detail delights in every car.
Familiar themes begin with the famous Spirit of Ecstasy, proudly adorning each model’s Pantheon grille leaning into the wind with fluttering gown, while in side profile all Phantom family members present a long rear over-hang and classic two-to-one wheel to body height.
The thin-rimmed steering-wheel is reminiscent of elegantly engineered multifunction helms of the Phantom II and III, while further cues in the form of bulls-eye air vents and organ-stop plungers further hint at past masterpieces.
The new, modern front-end for Phantom Series II, perhaps best exemplifies changes that are more than skin deep. Recessed behind new rectangular light apertures and re-designed front bumpers are fully LED light clusters. The signature is an elegant and dramatic bar, capturing the simple elegance of a continuously lit element, a feature complementing Rolls-Royce tail light design. For balance and proportion, this is integrated horizontally across the centre of Phantom’s four-compartment headlamp.
Arguably the best place to experience Phantom’s luxury is from the rear seat of Phantom Saloon where passengers – elevated by 18 mm – are presented with an inspirational view down the long sweep of the bonnet and onto the Spirit of Ecstasy. A reduction in the number of seat flutes in front and rear, from five to three, gives a more modern complement to the car’s sumptuous natural grain leather and flutes are also added to Drophead Coupé and Coupé seats for Phantom Series II.
An oasis of calm, Rolls-Royce interiors are the perfect environment in which to relax and unwind in welcoming silence. But they can also be a centre for entertainment. Phantom Saloon’s theatre configuration adds two monitors within veneered picnic tables for rear seat passengers which are linked to a multi-media player, mounted in a compartment at the rear of the centre console. The inclusion of AV connectors, a six-DVD changer housed in the lower glove box and USB port in the centre console, means occupants can view separate content wherever they may be seated, front or rear.
The LOGIC7TM surround sound system by Harman can create a truly cinematic experience on any journey. Seven individual sound signals are processed specifically for the car and its interior conditions using a combination of speakers that include subwoofers housed within resonance chambers in the space created by Phantom’s double floor. A nine-channel amplifier delivers supreme clarity, clearly placing musical instruments, sound effects and dialogue at different depths giving the impression of sitting in row one or 20 of a concert.
At the touch of a button, Phantom’s elegant analogue clock flips to reveal a new control centre display. The screen has increased in size from 6.5 to 8.8 inches with enhanced pixel density providing a more refined image, as well as split-menu display for more intuitive access to different functions.
A stylish new chrome controller, discreetly hidden within the centre console and rear-centre arm rests when not in use, is flanked by function keys such as menu, telephone and navigation to allow easier access to infotainment functions.
Eight functional bookmarks are now included beneath the monitor. These can be programmed to present desired information at the touch of a chrome key, for example the preferred orientation for satellite navigation maps, to present favourite television channels, pre-set radio stations or to access Phantom’s telephone menu. All Phantom family cars now benefit from improved interfaces and interaction with wireless technology.
Originally conceived by the Rolls-Royce engineering team, an advanced aluminium spaceframe retains its position at Phantom’s core, serving as the foundation for the car’s extraordinary driving prowess. Strong, lightweight and as rigid as a Formula 1 car, the spaceframe has been further reinforced, with the addition of brace bars that enable a dynamic package to be offered as an option for Phantom Saloon for the first time.
Epitomising the Rolls-Royce marriage of cutting-edge technology with fine craftsmanship, each spaceframe is entirely hand-welded, then finished as if it were a precision instrument. Every morning, skilled welders perform a 300mm test to check for atmospheric effects on the material with which they will work. More than 200 box sections of cast aluminium extrusion are then formed to create the frame, which is checked for accuracy to within a millimetre by laser. Finally, the largest computer-guided machining platform in the auto industry sets to work on the complete structure, milling critical points with pinpoint precision.
Precision might also be the best word to describe the manner in which Phantom drivers place their cars through corners. But, of course, handling cannot come at the expense of the famous Rolls-Royce magic carpet ride. Fortunately, thanks to its double insulated floor, the spaceframe only augments inner tranquillity helping eliminate noise, vibration and harshness.
Its inherent safety benefits are also enhanced by other systems controlled by Phantom’s ISIS (Intelligent Safety and Information System). This takes readings from sensors located throughout the car and, in the event of an impact, makes up to 4,000 calculations a second to establish its severity, deploying safety systems as necessary. These include intelligent braking and restraint systems such as Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control and seat belt pre-tensioners.
Complementing Phantom’s reassuring safety features are changes to front door side pockets. These are now slightly smaller, due to the addition of a crash pad, for more even distribution of forces in a 30° side-impact test.
Drive-train and suspension:
At its heart, every Phantom family car hosts a hand-assembled, naturally aspirated 6.75 litre V12 engine. This sophisticated direct-injection petrol engine develops 720Nm more than three quarters of which is available at 1,000 rpm. The torque curve remains largely flat between 1,000 and 3,000 rpm – an important prerequisite for effortless city driving – and moves occupants from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds and onto an electronically limited top speed of 149mph.
Phantom’s power reserve gauge is another of those trademark Rolls-Royce design cues that always raises a smile. In operation, it casually reveals the enormous power potential at a driver’s disposal should he or she require it. But, in most circumstances, Phantom’s performance is simply a matter of seamless, effortless progress.
For Phantom Series II, Rolls-Royce has improved the drive-train by incorporating a new 8-speed auto ZF-gearbox for all variants. This is electronically controlled to manage the extraordinary power delivered by the V12 power plant. The longer ratio in the new rear differential compensates shorter ratios in some gears of the new 8-speed gearbox, maintaining the same engine speed to augment ‘waftability’, while improving fuel economy.
The result is powerful serenity. Effortless gear changes come as a consequence of a better match of gear to engine speed, improving efficiency from power generation to where it is needed at the wheels. Fuel economy improves by 10 percent on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions fall from 385 to 347g/km as a result.
Double-wishbone front suspension complements the drive-train, featuring optimised mounts to minimise vibrations through the steering wheel, while multi-link rear suspension complete with anti-lift and anti-dive technology aids stability under heavy acceleration and braking.
Spring dampeners and anti-roll bars maintain comfort without loss of agility while self-levelling air struts compensate for different loads within the car, making continual adjustments as the weight of fuel decreases, giving drivers the ability to place the car through turns with absolute precision and passengers a ride of supreme comfort.
It takes 60 pairs of hands and more than 450 hours to design, construct and craft each Rolls-Royce motor car. At the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood there are around 1,000 employees, including craftspeople working in wood and leather shops, making the world’s finest cars. And just two robots in the paint shop to provide a seamless quality of finish. Only the finest materials are used and these are painstakingly prepared so their inherent beauty is displayed to best effect.
Rolls-Royce continues the grand tradition started centuries ago by the coach-building industry: at least five layers of paint and clear lacquer coating are applied to each Phantom, seven if the car is two-tone. Between each layer technicians sand the body by hand. Following application of a final coat, the body is meticulously hand polished for five hours to achieve the glassy lustre normally associated with a grand piano. Through the Bespoke programme, any chosen paint colour can be specified. Initially, this could be chosen by the client through the Phantom iPad App, capturing the colour of a favourite tie or lipstick for example and applying it to their virtual car. In keeping with Rolls-Royce traditions single or double coach-lines can also be applied – by hand of course. Each five metre line takes three hours to apply using only the finest squirrel and ox hair brushes.
Wooden features blend the skills of cabinet makers and boat builders with modern technology. Depending on specification, up to 43 wooden parts are used in every Phantom, each constructed from up to 28 layers of wood. These are interspersed with thin sheets of aluminium for strength and to prevent splintering in an impact. Multiple layers are pressed, bent and hand-finished before craftsmen cut and apply matched veneers, which are subsequently detailed, lacquered, hand polished and highlighted. All veneers come from one log and these are carefully selected and laid out so that the grain detailing is mirrored across the interior of each car.
Inspired by J-class yachts of the 1930s , the beautiful teak-decking in Phantom Drophead Coupé is a fine example of the marriage between Rolls-Royce traditions and the best in engineering. Teak is used because of its hardy properties and resistance to moisture and decay, but special techniques have been developed to preserve the appearance of a fresh, unprocessed finish, the aim being a final deck that closely resembled natural timber. Each deck, comprised of more than 30 wooden pieces, features precisely machined grooves and is protected by a specially formulated blend of oils. As with all woods and veneers used by Rolls-Royce, it is sourced by a team of specialists.
Only the finest hand-selected hides from Alpine bulls are used by Rolls-Royce. The healthy environment and open meadows without thorn or barbed wire result in far fewer natural marks. The leather is drum pigmented to allow the durable Rolls-Royce leather to retain its famous soft and supple feel, giving a rich, uniform colour while maintaining the natural feel, softness and grain. Each of the 450 leather parts that comprise an interior is cut by laser before being hand sewn by the artisans in the company’s own workshop.
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