Even the most iconic cars need an update now and then. And so it is with the eighth-generation Phantom Series II, Rolls-Royce’s flagship sedan. Introduced in 2017, this is a car that doesn’t see change very often. After all, its bloodline descends directly from the first, and perhaps best-known, Rolls-Royce of all time: the Silver Ghost.
But new car buyers don’t appreciate history, even if provenance is part of the reason for their purchase. They prefer the latest, which Rolls-Royce engineers and designers have provided.
“With Phantom Series II, we have retained and carefully protected everything our clients love about this superlative and luxurious item, while making subtle yet meaningful enhancements that reflect their evolving tastes and requirements,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, in a statement.
Don’t expect radical changes
While this newest apparition of Rolls-Royce’s best can be custom ordered in wild colors, the changes from Goodwood, England are more incremental, but appreciated.
Given that this is basically a mid-cycle refresh, that means it’s time to update the front end. For too many automakers, this means a radical change in appearance, without regard to heritage. That’s not the case for Rolls-Royce and not what clients expect.
So instead, the designers placed a new polished horizontal line between the daytime running lights above its iconic Pantheon Grille, which has undergone a “subtle geometric change,” according to the company. It makes the car’s initials and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament appear more prominent. And, in keeping with current fashion, the grille is now illuminated, a feature first broached on the smaller Ghost sedan.
A darkened chrome grille surround, black bonnet reins, windscreen surround and side window trim is available, if your prefer your Phantom murdered out.
While there are no changes to the side sheetmetal — this is a mid-cycle refresh after all — the Phantom does receive new footwear. You’d expect the milled, stainless-steel wheel with triangular facets, either fully or part-polished — your choice. But the truly outrageous heritage option are the disc wheels, which were common on 1920s Rolls-Royces. The disc wheel is available in polished stainless steel and black lacquer. But the rear-hinged doors remain, a special touch that oozes elegance.
The inside story
Why change a good thing? Rolls-Royce didn’t. The interior remains the sumptuous sanctuary it always was. How much space you have depends on whether you get the standard-length car or the extended length. This also depends on whether you have a chauffeur, of course.
But there are meaningful updates every customer can appreciate, such as Rolls-Royce Connected, a new feature that allows you to send an address to the car from Whispers, the Rolls-Royce private members’ app. Rolls-Royce Connected also displays the car’s location, security status and current health, which can be accessed on Whispers.
An option introduced for 2022, Privacy Suite, is still available, offering a modern take on the old chauffeur-driven car, with an electrochromic glass divider and intercom to ensure privacy when needed, as do the window curtains.
And even though you can order a bespoke Phantom, Rolls-Royce is offering a model called the Phantom Platino, named for its silver-white finish and use of platinum. Inside, you’ll find the car’s seats are finished in manner similar to the 1930s: front seats are in leather, the rear are sheathed in tone-on-tone fabric, and comes from an Italian mill mixed with bamboo fibers. Finally, there’s Starlight Headliner, which receives a unique pattern specifically for this model.
What hasn’t changed
The driveline’s velvety goodness, of course. Power comes courtesy of a twin-turbocharged V-12. Power is more than sufficient at 536 horsepower, and is fed to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rolls-Royce didn’t release pricing. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
So, who buys them?
Wouldn’t you like to know? Multi-millionaires and billionaires, that’s who. Young and old, modern or traditional, self-made or old money, Rolls-Royce buyers are more diverse than ever.
But this a rarified car; Rolls-Royce sold 1,490 vehicles in 2021, 805 of them cars. In the first three months of 2022, the company sold 190 cars, up from 160 last year. That’s small potatoes, although those “potatoes” come with sizable price tags. To put that in perspective, in 2021, Ford sold 1,989 F-150s every day.
But the Rolls-Royce Phantom doesn’t play by the same rules as other cars. These are cars that bought and coveted., rarified rides of the first order. Change comes gradually. But the automaker has been expert at keeping the cars current. This is no anachronism.
“The subtle changes we have made for the new Phantom Series II have all been minutely considered and meticulously executed,” Müller-Ötvös said. “As Sir Henry Royce himself said: ‘Small things make perfection, but perfection is no small thing.’”