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A sense of occasion
By Ghaith Madadha - Feb 25,2013 - Last updated at Feb 25,2013
AMMAN — The last word in automotive luxury and indulgence, the Rolls Royce Phantom is a veritable palace on wheels in terms of luxury. With an almost castle-like grandeur and sense of presence, a Phantom is a lifestyle choice rather than just a car. Designed from the ground up to be a serene cocoon of comfort the Phantom is swathed in the finest woods and leathers committed to an automobile. First introduced in 2003, the Phantom was technological leap forward for Rolls Royce when it was launched, and as of last year has been superseded by an updated Series II version with discrete design changes, and mechanical technological upgrades.
Stately and statuesque
A modern re-interpretation of a full-size Rolls Royce’s upright design and stately lines, the Phantom has an unmistakably aristocratic sense of presence about it. Subtly updated, the Series II hardly deviates from the 2003 original, but that is to be expected from loyal customers who invest vast sums for a timelessly classic design, but more pertinently, the carefully crafted lines and detail of the Phantom still look as impressive today as 10-years ago. The most obvious design change is the replacement of the old model’s large lower round light and upper light element by a larger rectangular all-LED upper element — the first on a production automobile — and a thin lower LED strip for daytime running lights.
The Phantom Series II also features slightly bigger air intakes, softened bumper edges and now visible dual rear exhausts. An imposingly tall vehicle with a high waistline, vast 5612mm length and upright cabin and face, the Phantom Series II features huge 21-inch alloy wheels to be suitably proportional to its dimensions, and now features three new designs, all with the non-rotating hub centres. With a short front and long rear overhang, the Phanton Series II cuts a classic saloon silhouette, while its lines start from a boldly arrogant fascia and smoothly and subtly taper off to a slightly tucked in and descending boot line.
Beyond the Phantom Series II’s trademark rear-hinged ‘suicide’ rear doors, one enters a plush world of fine leather, wood, chrome and deep lambswool rugs. A luxury liner of unparalleled indulgence, the Rolls Royce Phantom is a car to be best savoured from the rear seats, where one climbs in and back onto a supple high set bench, with ample leg, head, hip and shoulder room.
Sitting on the throne-like rear seats one can stretch out or upright comfortably, while the huge C-pillars have been designed to shield occupants from prying eyes, while at the same time the deep and curved seating position allows good views of the outside world. Rear quarters also include window curtains, individual DVD screens and climate controls.
A sumptuous oasis of tranquillity, the Phantom Series II’s interior features superb insulation and refinement, while a Harman sound system provides entertainment and umbrellas are even hidden in the doors. An upright and commanding driving position is almost as high as an SUV, while a low grip thin steering wheel and stalk gear selector promote calm driving. Completely swathed in natural materials, occupants almost never touch plastics, while the infotainment unit and controllers are hidden in classy old world compartments. For the Series II re-fresh the Phantom receives a larger 8.8-inch infotainment screen with enhanced pixel density, split screen function and chrome controller. Thoroughly updated, the new infotainment system also included improved satnav and connectivity.
Swift and silent
Hidden beyond its vast upright chrome grille and ornate Spirit of Ecstasy statuette, lies the Rolls Royce Phantom Series II’s velvety smooth 6.75-litre V12 engine, which carries on unchanged, but as is mated to a new 8-speed automatic gearbox that is both smoother shifting, more decisive and more economical than the 6-speed it replaces.
With eight forward ratios, the new gearbox better disperses the Phantom’s output so that it can find an optimal gear for almost any situation, whether gliding gently in town or highway, or briskly accelerating from stand-still or on-the move. With more gear ratios, the Phantom now returns improved 14.8l/100km fuel economy and 347g/km carbon dioxide emissions.
Whisper quiet, the Phantom Series II’s V12 engine is tuned to provide 75 per cent of its maximum 531lb/ft (at 3500rpm) torque at tick-over engine speed and provides the rich, creamy and ever-present twisting force necessary to effortlessly motivate 2560kg of automotive real estate.
The Phantom’s gracefully brisk but unhurried delivery is what Rolls Royce call ‘waftability’, while if pushed hard, the Phantom’s engine happily and smoothly obliges, with a maximum 453bhp at 5350rpm, while a power meter replaces the rev counter. Stately, progressive, smooth and confident, the Phantom Series II can hit 100km/h in 5.9-seconds and reach 250km/h — not that many owners will be doing that.
Seemingly gliding rather than merely driving along, the Phantom Series II is a serenely comforting experience, with a pillow-like suppleness and zen-like ability to isolate occupants from the harshness, noise and vibrations of the road. Hugely stable at speed and softly but reassuringly planted on the road, the Series II pampers passengers and is surprisingly supple for a vehicle sporting huge 21-inch alloy wheels.
Oversized to aesthetically blend in with and reflect the Phantom’s sense of occasion, one would suspect that the full-sized Roller would even better deliver on the brand’s trademark ‘waftability’ on more cracked and rutted roads were it to be offered with smaller alloy wheels and taller tire profiles.
The Phantom is built on an aluminium frame to keep its not inconsiderable weigh down to just 2580kg, and to provide a high level of rigidity for improved ride and handling. Riding on a sophisticated front double wishbone and rear multi-link self-levelling air suspension, the Phantom is stately and supple, but despite considerable initial lean through corners, it feels balanced and confident when pushed to the edge of its grip.
With light steering designed for easy and gentlemanly use, the Phantom can however be hustled along precisely enough, albeit with much rowing of the wheel and a well-damped feel. Seamless and poised, the Phantom Series II now features an optional dynamic Package to allow owners to better exploit its performance potential, and includes brace bars for body stiffening, a thicker steering wheel, visible exhausts and altered gearbox tuning.
Engine: 6.75-litre, in-line V12-cylinders
Valve-train: 48-valve, DOHC, direct injection
Bore x stroke: 92 x 84.6mm
Compression ratio: 11:1
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, RWD
Power, BHP (PS) [Kw]: 453 (460)  @ 5350rpm
Specific power: 67.1bhp/litre
Power-to-weight ratio: 175bhp/tonne
Torque lb/ft (Nm): 531 (720) 3500rpm
Specific torque: 106.6Nm/litre
0-100 km/h: 5.8-seconds
Maximum speed: 250km/h (governed)
Fuel requirement: 98 RON (minimum 91RON)
Fuel consumption, urban/extra-urban/combined: 22.8/10.2/14.8 litres/100km
Carbon dioxide emissions, combined: 347g/km
Track, F/R: 1687/1671mm
Headroom, F/R: 981/942mm
Shoulder room, F/R: 1491/1298mm
Elbow room, F/R: 1562/1266mm
Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.36
Luggage capacity (DIN): 395-litres
Unladen weight, DIN: 2580kg
Fuel capacity: 100-litres
Suspension: Double wishbone
Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs, 374mm/370mm
Steering: Variable power assistance, rack & pinion
Turning circle: 13.1-metres
Tyres, F/R: 255/50R21/285/45R21
With a strong case for being the world’s best luxury car, the Rolls Royce Ghost features most of the splendor and luxury of its larger more expensive Phantom stable-mate, but is more accessible, manageable, driver-oriented, powerful, efficient and less costly. If not quite as palatial as the Phantom, the Ghost is however an easier and more rewarding drive. Above all, the Ghost doesn’t lose sight of a luxury car’s basic need to be supple, insulating and ultra-comfortable, and so trumps firmer and “sportier” luxury cars, including the BMW 7-Series to which it is related but different in character. The Phantom may well be the stateliest car one can be chauffeured in, but the Ghost is however equally rewarding behind the wheel or in the back.
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