Rolls-Royce, with the Phantom, had set a new benchmark in terms of luxury tourers. There was great performance, and all from the rich comfort of one of the most luxurious car cabins in the world. Rolls had outdone itself. Or so we thought, till the carmaker came up with the Phantom Series II. If you thought the old Phantom was good, then this new one will absolutely take you by storm.
There are improvements all round. The new car is even smoother than the old one, thanks to a new eight-speed gearbox mated to the twelve-cylinder motor. It is more economical because of the extra gears, but then, most Rolls owners have not been known to care much about fuel bills. The suspension has also been tweaked subtly to make the Phantom a tad more sporty. A more responsive throttle map can be turned on via an ‘S’ button on the steering wheel. Not that being sporty was ever a condition with any Rolls.
The new Phantom does do a great job of amplifying comfort levels and that feeling of luxury. The suspension gobbles up bad roads with utter ease, faint and nearly unnoticeable thuds the only indication. Barely any noise creeps into the cabin, even when you rev the engine freely. So when you step inside, you’re practically sealed into luxury.
So, what are the changes made to the Phantom II? The old car’s pig-eye fog lamps have made way for a nicer-looking LED headlight setup featuring fully automatic brights and some rectilinear daytime running lights. The imposing Parthenon grille is now made of a single piece of stainless steel, unlike the bonded three-piece component of old. Other exterior changes are
to the C pillar, which gets new chrome treatment, and a rear bumper that’s been refined.
The six-and-three-quarter-litre engine makes ‘adequate’ power, which is a bit of an understatement. The 453bhp and 73.4kgm of torque gets to 100kph in 5.7sec, but it never feels that quick. This I believe, is down to the taller ratio in the new differential that makes occupants feel like they’re gathering speed when they’re actually piling it on.
For a car that’s this big, it’s rather easy to drive. The square dimensions make guiding it through traffic a cinch, the view from the high driver’s seat is excellent, and visibility is improved by the elephant-ear rear view mirrors.
This brings us to that other useful feature that the new Series II has – cameras all around the car that beam images to BMW’s latest iDrive screen. And when you’re trying to park this leviathan, you need all the help you can get.
The cabin, of course, is finished to the expected highest standards, with lovely wood, soft leather, bright chrome bezels and tactile handles and buttons. Everything you touch has the right texture and tension to tell you it’s the best possible solution for its purpose. The thin-rimmed steering wheel is evocative of the traditional, albeit with multiple buttons integrated around the hub, and you can’t help but get sucked in by the old-world charm that this cabin exudes.
In the end, it may seem like Rolls-Royce has been extremely cautious with upgrading the Phantom, but when the last one was already so good, I think there’s no point in fixing what wasn’t broken. Sir Henry Royce had a principle – ‘take the best that exists and make it better’. That’s exactly what Rolls has done with the Series II.