The Phantom remains the standard bearer for the world’s most luxurious car brand, Rolls-Royce. With prices touching half a million pounds, surreal customisation options and a ride more akin to that of a super yacht, the Phantom remains a true statement of wealth. The Series II represents a minor facelift and is a fond farewell to the last V12 petrol Phantom before the pure electric Spectre arrives. Truly the end of an era.
“The purchase of a Phantom is simply an addition to a collection of toys and investments”
There is no way to place a value on the Phantom’s running costs. Our test car cost nearly £450,000 and, once you reach house prices for a car, you know it’s not even a calculation worth troubling your calculator with. The purchase of a Phantom is simply an addition to a collection of toys and investments, whether that’s art, property, fashion, boats or jets. If you want to be boring about it, then know that we got about 15 miles per gallon, insurance and VED/road tax are sky high, servicing and fixes are sky high, a chauffeur and private parking everywhere you go are sky high, and so on. But an owner of a Phantom is far more likely to forget which country he or she has it garaged in than forget to renew the VED.
Expert rating: 5/5
Reliability of a Rolls-Royce Phantom
“When stuff does go wrong, you have a personal concierge to help get you back on the road again”
Half of a car’s reliability rating is to do with stuff going wrong, but half the time what owners mean by reliability is “satisfaction”, which is to say when things go wrong how quickly and easily does the manufacturer put them right? How much stress does the car cause you? In the case of Rolls-Royce, not much ever goes wrong because it’s all tried and tested BMW stuff under the skin and, given the tiny production numbers, Rolls-Royce spends forever assembling each car. Crucially, when stuff does go wrong, you have a personal concierge to help get you back on the road again. Also, like running costs, this is a fairly redundant section. Phantom owners don’t sit on hold waiting to book a slot at their local service centre, after all. They break the car then hand it to domestic staff to fix.
Expert rating: 5/5
Safety for a Rolls-Royce Phantom
“There’s so much car in front of you it feels like whatever you hit would never reach you”
Every review of a Phantom jokes about the bonnet having a different postcode, but it’s the obvious starting point for any safety discussion because there’s so much car in front of you it feels like whatever you hit would never reach you. Other things: you sit as high as SUV drivers so visibility is great, there are parking sensors and cameras, great traction aids from parent company BMW and driver warning systems galore. Plus, although the rear-wheel drive and V12 engine reward spirited driving, you don’t succumb to it because the Phantom is all about restrained elegance. Rolls-Royce will scoff, but it’s a bit like driving a Volvo (cue cheers from Volvo), in that the character of the car encourages you to relax and chill out.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Rolls-Royce Phantom
“In the rear, the two commodious seats recline, heat and massage you, while your feet sink into the lambswool carpets”
Over the years we’ve been testing Rolls-Royces we still have no idea how it creates the famous “waftability”, or that sensation of floating a hair’s breadth above the road, no matter how rough the surface. It isn’t that you feel nothing, because that might make you feel sick. It’s that you feel just enough to enjoy, but not so much as to be intrusive. We crashed through two unseen potholes and barely noticed. Another beautiful thing in a Rolls is the retention of the classic huge steering wheel with its elegantly thin rim – a world away from the chunky ones you get on cars from the BMW parent company. In a Phantom you twirl the steering wheel between two fingertips and the car pivots with four-wheel steering for a response like a well-trained Mastiff.
In the rear, the two commodious seats recline, heat and massage you, while your feet sink into the lambswool carpets or alight on the footrests. You don’t need to lean forward to haul the door shut: just press the button marked “door” by your ear.nIn the paraphrased words of poet WH Davies, Rolls-Royce hands back to its customers the time to just sit and stare, watching the world watching you as you stream past, the outside air and traffic a distant murmur.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Rolls-Royce Phantom
“Starlit ceiling, sir? Certainly - is that with or without the shooting star option?”
Changes for the Phantom Series II over its predecessor include a discreet uplighting for the grille and Spirit of Ecstasy and sparkly headlights, which are really fabulous. Other than that, it’s pretty much the usual bespoke luxury, which makes any cosmetic model-year changes hard to spot on the basis every Phantom is whatever the customer wants it to be. Starlit ceiling, sir? Certainly - is that with or without the shooting star option?
Our test car had rouched silk in the art gallery of the dashboard, a mirrored Champagne fridge with flutes, veneered picnic tables, buttons to shut the doors remotely, a black bonnet in contrast to the grey-blue paintwork and peony-pink coach-line stripe, rising footrests, monogrammed headrests and a massage function in the large rear seats. Plus, all the usual stuff like Apple CarPlay, wireless charging and a bespoke audio system. And, if it isn’t there, you can just ask for it.
Expert rating: 5/5
Power for a Rolls-Royce Phantom
“You plant your foot and that long, long nose lifts into the air, sniffing for possibilities”
Like everything else connected to the Phantom, the power is unbelievable, laughable, surreal and precious. All 563 horsepower and 900Nm of torque come from a famous V12 petrol engine and mean that the Phantom accelerates from 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds. Which is “meh” sportscar territory, until you remind yourself that this car weighs 2.7 tonnes. The experience is what counts. You plant your foot and that long, long nose lifts into the air, sniffing for possibilities, before the bootful of torque drives the gigantic rear wheels into the ground and forward, pushing the rear down along at speed. What was a muffled purr becomes a gurgling insistence from the exhausts and suddenly you’ve gone from 30mph to 80mph without noticing. So watch out.
It’s all easy, effortless, beguiling, scintillating … it’s both exciting and calming at the same time, bold and restrained, gentle and passionate. It’s a masterstroke of engineering, design and packaging and, frankly, not of this world. To the lucky few who ever get to drive or own one, may they count their considerable blessings.