There's always a bigger fishA few months later, I got to experience that car from the rear passenger seat, and it had quite an impact on me. At that point, I had driven several hundred different cars and experienced countless more without driving. "There's always a bigger fish" suddenly made more sense than ever before, but it also felt like a paradox: there's no way you'll find another vehicle to provide the same spectacular levels of comfort and luxury. The Phantom VII had set the bar way up, and I knew it would take years and years before I could ever experience something more impressive.
Listening to AC/DC's Thunderstruck at full blast while cruising around on the Autobahn at speeds of over 124 mph (200 kph) is still one of the coolest things I've ever experienced, next to drifting cars, and riding race bikes on the track. The Phantom VII was discontinued in 2017, with just over 10,000 units being delivered to customers around the world. With the first Phantom being introduced almost 100 years ago, in 1925, it was obvious that Rolls-Royce would return with an even more advanced version.
The company's flagship luxury car was unveiled in July of 2017, with deliveries starting in January 2018. If it's going to have a lifespan that's just as long as the previous model, this might be the last Phantom to feature an internal combustion engine. But we can worry about that, six or seven years from now. Now, I had been thinking about making a list featuring 100 cars you need to drive before you die for a while now. And while over 90% of them are built for speed, I had saved a special place for the new Phantom too.
Take the best that exists and make it betterSeeing a Rolls-Royce Phantom driving down the street is not going to be a daily occurrence unless you live in a city like Monaco or something similar. When I arrived at the dealership to pick up the car, I was once again stunned by its aura. I had never seen one in Burnout Grey before, but it felt like a fitting color for what most people would almost consider a land yacht. The SWB model is 226.8 inches (5,762 mm) long. When speaking of the Phantom, the short wheelbase clocks in at 139.8 inches (3,552 mm).
To put things in perspective, the G70 BMW 7-series is 212.2 inches (5,391 mm) long. The car sits on 22" Part Polished Dynamic Wheels, which are perfect for the epic proportions of the Phantom. Once you get behind the wheel, you get hit by two different thoughts at the same time. First, you'd better be careful with your steering and pedal inputs as you roll out the dealership front yard in a €534,099 ($523,523) car. Secondly, whoever says that you need to be in the backseat to properly enjoy this car is probably not very fond of driving to begin with.
Driving off at 10.30 AM in a pretty crowded part of the town felt a bit overwhelming at the start, given the circumstances. You'd think that a car that big would be challenging to drive, but you'd be wrong. A 90-degree right-hand turn revealed the wonders of four-wheel steering. Sure, you need to time your inputs and be mindful of the size, but it feels like the Phantom could almost drive itself, should that be required. Now, I've probably racked up over 20,000 miles (32,186 km) of driving new-generation Volvos, and the 8-speed automatic transmission on those is quite smooth, to say the least.
Your wish is my commandI'd say it's downright impossible to convey how smooth the ride is to someone who has never been inside a Phantom before. But there is a way that sort of begins to describe it: the eight-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom almost feels like it's hovering over any given surface, regardless if we're talking about cobblestone or asphalt. It's like having your own private, motorized cloud, and it perfectly explains why these cars will set you back more than half a million dollars.
Driving the Phantom doesn't just make you feel like you're leaping into the future. It makes you want to turn fantasy into reality. Sure, it's not going to be easy to buy this car if you're not making six figures a year. But setting a goal like owning a Rolls-Royce within the next five years could do wonders for your career and financial situation. I tried to snap out of this whole mirage as I was still behind the wheel, and about to enter the highway. At that point, I realized that there was more to the seemingly-tame engine to experience before the day was over.
The previous Phantom made use of a naturally-aspirated 6.75-liter V12, that was good enough for 454 horsepower and 531 lb-ft (720 Nm) of torque. But the new N74B68 V12 has got a twin-turbo setup to boost those figures up to 563 horsepower and 664 lb-ft (900 Nm) of torque. This isn't going to be as fast as a Ferrari 296 GTB, but that's not its purpose, to begin with. And if you afford to add the Phantom to your garage, buying a Ferrari isn't going to be that difficult either.
In less than two hours I must have played hundreds of different songs from genres like rap, techno, drum and bass, house, and classic music too. Experiencing the Bespoke Audio system is like going to a concert, but it's all happening inside a car while you're sitting in some of the most comfortable seats ever created by man.
I must say that I hit a soft spot once I selected Duel of the Fates by John Williams. You might remember this one from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. And I'm not ashamed to say that halfway through the song I could relate to opera-goers that find themselves bursting into tears halfway through a special play. Driving the Rolls-Royce Phantom even for just a few hours is something that my grandchildren will be hearing about once I get to that point.