The launch of the Rolls-Royce Phantom in 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.
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.
In 2012, 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.
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.
“We should think of Phantom design as a piece of popular, classical music. Over time this has the possibility of different interpretations without losing the essential melody that we know so well.” Ian Cameron – Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Director of Design
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.
Phantom Coupé and Drophead Coupé now come with a single piece grille surround, presenting a smoother, more contemporary front end that arch into sculpted front wings, while Phantom saloon features a new rear bumper incorporating a polished stainless steel highlight.
Phantom Saloon and Extended Wheelbase wear a new front wing R-R badge with repeat indicator while three new wheel options, including painted, part-polished and polished, add to the range of 21” wheels, the largest fitted as standard to any production car.
Simplicity of design and the very finest materials contribute to the timeless architecture of any Phantom, where touch points are exclusively wood, chrome and leather and where feet can easily be lost in deep, lambswool rugs.
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.
Rolls-Royce has a long history of technological firsts and is now the first car manufacturer to offer full LED headlamps as standard for Phantom models. As well as drawing less power from the engine, the characteristic whiter light provides a clearer view of the road ahead, helping prevent tiredness for drivers during long journeys on dark roads.
New light clusters comprise four compartments surrounded and finished with a polished, stainless steel bezel. Continuously lit, an elegant bar runs through the centre forming Phantom’s LED daytime running lamps. LEDS in the top two pockets form dipped lights while full beam illuminates LEDs in the lower two. A separate, rectangular indicator strip sits below the headlamps.
LEDs present the opportunity for technologies that better manage the way light is projected, including curve light functionality and adaptive headlamps. The first uses electronically-controlled reflectors in upper and lower headlamp pockets, to improve the sweep of illumination when cornering. More of the road in the direction of travel can be seen as reflectors rotate by up to 15° in direct response to steering wheel turns.
Everything about owning and driving Phantom models should be effortless, including manoeuvring in tight urban environments. Today, a new camera system is offered as standard for all Phantom Series II. Cameras are positioned in five locations, two in the curves of the front bumper, two on the underside of each wing mirror and one in the trunk lid.
These combine to present a fish-eye view at blind junctions or to provide ground images with obstacle recognition and reverse path prediction when parking This automatically deploys on the control centre display when reverse gear is selected and highlights the optimum reversing trajectory as well as the location of obstacles, helping prevent scuffs and alloy damage preserving the high value of a client’s investment – and the inherent beauty of the car.
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 531lb ft of torque (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 under 6.0 seconds and onto an electronically limited top speed of 155mph where market conditions allow.
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.