It takes 60 pair of hands and over 450 hours to design, construct and craft a single Rolls-Royce Car. Considering the fact that Rolls-Royce still continues the fine tradition established by the coach building industry eons ago in terms of affording a meticulous finish on each machine, these numbers are hardly staggering however they speak volumes in terms of establishing just how high the pedestal for finesse is set at. Each car is a masterpiece and the flagship model, namely the Phantom, is the epitome of perfection that seamlessly marries tradition, technology and opulence into the most desirable set of four wheels that man can strive for.
Incidentally the Phantom was launched in 2003 and it has been a little over a decade that the car has been in production and gone on to do some serious numbers for Rolls-Royce across the globe, however with technology and expectations changing at a staggering pace, Rolls-Royce couldn’t just sit still and rest on the laurels of the brand. A change was in the making, but this being a Rolls-Royce meant that the change had to be at par with the very DNA of the brand, not just some nip and tuck with chrome tossed in for good measure-that would be sacrilege! Going back to the maxim established by Henry Royce, Rolls-Royce once again set out to take the best that exists and make it better. The result of which is the Phantom II.
The changes in exterior design are immediately apparent when you look at the Phantom II head on. The saloon now features a more rectangular shape and while the predecessor had rectangle headlights, the newer ones are sleeker and further accentuated by the indicator strip set right below, unlike the round units on the earlier car. The headlamp cluster itself is a work of art and is composed of LEDs which Rolls-Royce has used to their advantage as the technology offers a better way to manage the manner in which the light is projected. Not only do you get a white light for better visibility, the adaptive headlamps automatically change beam patterns according to driving conditions.
At lower speeds, light is dispersed in a wide pattern, while at speeds in excess of 50km/h the beam becomes narrower and more focused on the road. The light beam also rotates up to 15 degrees in the direction of the steering in order to better illuminate the intended line of travel. Other changes on the Phantom II include a new front and rear bumper and a choice new alloy designs for the large 21 inch wheels. Of course the majestic Pantheon grille and the Spirit of Ecstasy remain unchanged; however the Phantom II does get a new single piece grille surround, which has earlier been seen on the Phantom Drophead Coupe. The silhouette remains the same, including the long hood, set back passenger cabin and the sheer height and size of the car. The lines are timeless on this beauty, and though it has received some clever tweaks, the design is still a decade old yet looks amazingly fresh.
Open the doors and you are greeted with opulence. I, being part of the select billions on this planet who is born without a silver spoon, could happily live inside a Phantom II and not want a house ever! Pristine materials, including the highest quality of wood and leather available essentially drape the interiors. Fine polished metals that feel rich to the touch add their aura to the functional yet uber stylish interiors and to pamper your feet, the floor is covered in a deep lambswool rug.
The element that grabs you however is the simplicity in treatment and design. Space it at a premium, and the large seats ensure you are literally seating in the lap of luxury. Additional touches include the starlight headliner over the rear seats which feature over 1600 tiny fibre optic lights that have been handwoven into the leather lining to create a starry sky within the compartment of the Phantom II. As part of the bespoke program, the stars can be customized to the owner’s liking including creating their company logo out of the stars, or simply having their favourite constellation on display! Regardless, the effect is mesmerizing and a rather unique touch.
In terms of creature comforts, the Phantom II features just about every goodie that exists on this planet. A high end surround sound system from Harman which includes 16 speakers a nine channel amplifier and two subwoofers tucked away within the confines of the double floor, fold out screens, a revised and updated multi media interface with a larger 8.8 inch screen, an analogue clock and a plethora of controls to adjust the seats to your liking. Another major update on the Phantom II is the telephone cradle which has been replaced by a smartphone dock and also houses a USB, AUX-in and 12V power socket.
Driver aids include a top view camera display for ease of maneuvering in tight spaces and a high end reverse parking camera to help in reversing. Of course, with the bespoke program you can ask for a fitment, and it shall be delivered, so in effect the sky is the limit on the level of kit you can avail on a Phantom II. What did grab my attention was that numerous elements neatly fold and tuck themselves away when not in use; a feature that ensures that the interiors look timeless and elegant without too much clutter.
At the heart of the Rolls-Royce Phantom II is a hand assembled naturally aspirated 6.75 litre V12 engine, which incidentally also did duty under the hood of the Phantom I and currently continues to power the entire Phantom range on offer. Capable of generating 460PS at 5350rpm and a solid 720Nm of torque at 3500rpm, the engine is a powerhouse and rightly suited for a vehicle of this stature. Power delivery is linear and a lot of this has to do with the fact that about 75 per cent of the torque is available from as low as 1000rpm. The refined engine unit now mated to an 8 speed automatic gearbox as Rolls-Royce has finally done away with the older 6 speed unit.
All these parameters do transfer into some fine digits and despite its gargantuan size, the Phantom II is capable of doing 0-100 km/h in just 5.9 seconds and attain a top speed of 240km/h (governed). In terms of mileage, the 100 litre fuel tank is normally good for 600-670 kilometers which is a ten per cent improvement over its predecessor. At the end of the day, the Phantom II is a machine like no other and should drive like no other.
Speaking of which, the experience behind the wheel of the Phantom II is best described as piloting your own private luxury jet or better yet, a yacht. The large thin-rimmed steering wheel is reminiscent of the vintage Phantom II and III, however in a modern context, it is also very similar to what is found on luxury yachts. Buckle yourself into the wide, well padded, leather wrapped seat, hit the start button, shift into ‘D’ (drive) and gently prod the gas pedal and the Phantom II eases forward. If NVH was ever a contention for you, then let it be known that the cabin on the Phantom II is eerily quiet.
The steering is surprisingly light, despite the car weighing around 2560 kilograms, and once you find a stretch of open road and unleash the V12, the Phantom II literally surges forward in a locomotive-like fashion and enters three digit speeds before you know it. What is surprising though is that the Phantom II is rather nimble despite its 5842mm length, 1990mm width and 1638mm height. No doubt, the double wishbone suspension up front and multi-link rear suspension complete with anti-lift and anti-dive technology plays its part and is further enhanced by the spring dampeners, anti roll bars and self leveling air struts that compensate for varying load conditions within the car.
Adding to its drivability, the Phantom II is offered with a dynamic package which includes front suspension strut braces as well as further strengthening of the spaceframe chassis to allow for some spirited driving. Settling for nothing but the best, Rolls-Royce engineers have ensured that the aluminum spaceframe which forms the core of the Phantom II is as rigid as that of a Formula One car. It seems that Rolls-Royce Phantom owners enjoy pushing their machines a bit and the dynamic package is a result of this feedback from owners! Incidentally, the dynamic package is a bespoke option and if you would rather have the regal ride quality without the added firmness required for spirited driving, you can just opt for it.
Safety is of paramount importance and on the Phantom II the systems are governed by the Intelligent Safety and Information System (ISIS). The system collects feedback from the numerous sensors located through out the vehicle and should you be unfortunate enough to be in an accident, the ISIS system makes over 4000 calculations in a second in order to establish the severity of the accident and deploy the necessary safety systems, including numerous airbags, intelligent braking and restraint systems, Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control and seat belt pre tensioners.
Simply put, the Phantom II is best described by one single word-effortless. Such is the nature of the car that it achieves its purpose without having to try too hard. What required changes, were changed, and the elements that didn’t were maintained. To borrow the words of Ian Cameron, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Director of Design, “The result is thoroughly modern, yet embraces those traditional design cues. It’s a familiar design, but it’s lit in a different way.” It’s a car that delves beyond the normal in a realm where exquisite workmanship is the order of the day.
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