Chengdu, Sichuan Province - Ever since the days of the sedanca de ville, when the chauffeur sat in the open front seat while his passengers enjoyed the amenities of an enclosed rear cabin, Rolls-Royce cars have afforded influential clients one of the most sought-after luxuries of all.
Historic negotiations, multimillion-dollar deals, explosive love affairs, even the fate of nations have been decided in the quiet back seat of a Rolls-Royce, between the world’s most influential and enigmatic individuals - men and women who demand the ‘luxury of privacy’ wherever they travel.
The craftsmen and women at the Bespoke division of Rolls-Royce understand this desire for discretion and, as a tribute to the customers we never hear about because that’s the way they prefer it, they have created what they call the Privacy Suite for the new extended-wheelbase version of the Phantom, presented to the world this week at the Chengdu Motor Show.
Using special electrochromatic glass - originally developed for welding masks - the partition between the front seats and the rear cabin can be switched from perfectly clear to almost completely opaque at the press of a button.
The rear cabin is also lined with a frequency-specific sound deadening compound that inhibits the transmission of conversations from the rear to the front seat, with a built-in intercom system, controlled from the rear cabin, that allows communication on demand. Press a button and speak normally, and the driver will hear you clearly. When he wants to call you, however, he pushes the call button, which sounds a discreet signal in the rear cabin - it’s up to you whether to answer or not.
There’s also a hatch in the partition, controlled only from the rear, allowing documents or other small objects to be passed between the front seat and the rear cabin - and it’s illuminated when its open, so you can see what you’re getting before you take it.
The Privacy Suite includes two high definition 30cm monitors linked to the car’s software suite, as well as an HDMI port, so passengers can share confidential files from their protected phones and tablets.
Finally, built-in curtains allow complete closure of the rear and side windows for total privacy.