Johannesburg - The world's most luxurious car has arrived in South Africa. Following the Phantom’s recent global debut in London, the luxury marque’s new flagship was presented to local customers last week by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Sandton, the local importers.
They won’t reveal the price (if you have to ask, you can’t afford it and all that) but it’s in any case academic as the 2018 allocation of SA-bound Phantoms is already sold out. However, if you do happen to become a Bitcoin gazillionaire anytime soon, here’s what you need to know about the eighth-generation Phantom if you wish to put your name on next year’s waiting list.
Like its predecessors going all the way back to the first Phantom of 1925, the latest Rolls-Royce flagship is a spare-no-expense luxury limousine built for the most well-heeled members of society. The motoring world’s most powerful status symbol comes with all the sheepskin-carpeted luxury and magic carpet ride of its forebears, but offers a beguiling new feature aimed at luring more owners from the back seat into the front.
It’s called ‘The Gallery’, and it’s a personalised dashboard that allows owners to commission an individual work of art behind the pane of hermetically sealed glass - you can specify an oil painting, crushed flowers, rippled velvet … whatever your vivid imagination comes up with.
The new Phantom has also been thoroughly revised beneath its imposing façade. Monocoque construction has given way to an all-aluminium spaceframe which makes the car lighter and 30 percent more rigid than its predecessor, which was already the world’s most rigid car. This frame, which will carry every future Rolls-Royce, improves both driveability and refinement.
Rolls-Royce has designed the Phantom to be the most silent car in the world with two-layer glass all round, more than 130kg of sound insulation, and noise-damping foam under the tread of the tyres. It’s one of the smoothest-riding too, with air suspension and a forward camera that reads the road ahead and pre-emptively adjusts the suspension for every bump.
Four-wheel steering makes the big car easier to turn, too, and as always those Rolls-Royce logos in the wheel hubs stay upright no matter how fast the car’s moving.
The design is unmistakably Phantom but the pantheon grille’s now even taller, and it’s flanked by new laser headlights that are capable of illuminating the road 600 metres ahead.
Under the huge bonnet, the 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 generates 420kW and 900Nm to whisk this luxury missile along in swift silence. It drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic satellite-aided transmission that uses GPS location to ensure that it’s always in the right gear for what’s coming up around the bend, based on how spirited your driving is.
Sitting inside the world’s best luxury car you’re surrounded by finely-finished chrome, luxury cowhide, and high gloss wood veneer (there isn’t a plastic panel to be found), with your feet resting on plush sheepskin floor mats.
The huge car comes with the well-known trappings: brollies stored in the rear doors, a rear fridge to stash your favourite champagne and crystal glasses, rear doors that whisk closed at the touch of a button (the valet will love this), heating for not only the seats but the armrests too, and immense space. There’s stretch-out legroom for the tallest of adults, with picnic tables and DVD entertainment for the rear passengers.
The Phantom can be personalised with a vast number of bespoke features and there’s no such thing as a ‘stock’ car, which is why Rolls-Royce won’t quote even a ballpark price.
The only feature you don’t get is a sunroof. That’s because of the starlight headliner: a ceiling infused with twinkling LEDs that light up like a starry sky – in your own choice of constellations if you like.