Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila
A GARGANTUAN vehicle that stretches nearly six meters, weighs three tons, and boasts a monstrous 6.7-liter V12 under an extended bonnet is the last you’d expect to be refined and silent. But over 800 engineers and designers in Goodwood, United Kingdom, beg to disagree because that’s how they, well, roll.
The all-new Rolls-Royce Phantom was recently unveiled in Manila, and the “pinnacle of luxury” has just been redefined through the already legendary nameplate. “[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 L. Jose in a speech during the vehicle’s launch last week at the Maybank Performing Arts Center in Bonifacio Global City.
Added Autohub Group president Willy Q. Tee Ten: “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.”
The “Architecture of Luxury” he spoke of is an all-aluminum space-frame that Rolls-Royce shares with no one else — something that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific regional sales manager David Kim underscored to BusinessWorld. “We were questioned by a lot of media before about how many parts we shared with the BMW Group [which owns Rolls-Royce Motor Cars], and if that was the case, what made us different?”
He intimated; “So we thought about how we could give a true Rolls-Royce driving experience to our customer. The company decided to develop the very exclusive platform and architecture, with the Phantom first to use it. All future Rolls-Royce models will use only this scalable Architecture of Luxury platform.” The Cullinan SUV (set for launch in Manila in the first quarter of 2019) rises on this as well, and as with future Rolls-Royce releases.
From this light yet tough skeleton, Rolls-Royce builds nothing short of an opulent cocoon that effectively shuts occupants out from the world. “Surrounding us are more than 130 kilos of sound-deadening material. Essentially, it’s like a studio. That’s the level of cocooning that you’ll associate only with a Rolls-Royce,” concurred regional corporate communications executive Brendan Mok recently as we drove and rode the extended wheelbase variant of the Phantom in Tokyo, Japan. Double-skin alloy is used on areas within the floor and bulkhead, and sound-absorbing materials are packed between these skins. The result is quietness second to none.
“Truly, when the customer’s in the Phantom, we want give them the feeling like they’re sitting in their living room couch — in a very quiet environment. The interior is designed with tranquility and serenity in mind,” added Mr. Kim. “And this Phantom is 10% quieter than the previous generation. It’s the quietest in the world.”
The usual NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) yardstick has been veritably smashed as this full-size uber-luxury saloon car with a heritage dating back to 1925 spares nothing in pursuit of the holy grail of comfort. “The Embrace” is Rolls-Royce Motor Cars design director Giles Taylor’s vision for the new Phantom where “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,” according to a company statement.
Luxurious appointments are also very intuitive — such as air-conditioning controls on the door panel so you could sit at the back and adjust at will. Pop open the drinks cabinet and pour yourself a bubbly in the excellently stowed Rolls-Royce champagne flutes. Got a crick in your back? Sit back and turn on the chair massage (with heating) function. Looking for further inspiration? Gaze up at the full-length Starlight Headliner, which depicts the night sky via some 1,300 optic-fiber LEDs hand-stitched into the ceiling. In true Rolls-Royce fashion, even this can be customized. You could depict your company’s logo, have your name spelled out, or even a constellation of choice.
The newest bespoke innovation is called the Gallery, which “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.” Mr. Kim said that owners are welcome to conceive what they want depicted on the hermetically sealed Gallery, which will be crafted in Goodwood before going into their Phantom order.
Powering the stately beauty is a 48-valve 6.75-liter V12 — good for a stout 563 hp and 900 Nm, with the torque available at a low 1,700 rpm. It’s downright sprightly for its heft, a fact we can personally testify to. It can reach 100 kph in 5.4 seconds, reports Rolls-Royce, all the way to a top speed of 250 kph. Through it all, the “Magic Carpet Ride” has never been better — benefiting 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 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 100 kph.”
Big luxury begets big performance, after all.
Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila