Words: Ee-Yong Lee ; Photos: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Kuala Lumpur
Time for some automotive word association. Ludicrous engineering? Bugatti. Timeless design? Porsche. Opulence and luxury? Yes, that’s right, Rolls Royce. Well of course it’s completely subjective when it comes to the automotive industry, however you’ll have to agree that Rolls Royce is certainly the pinnacle of automotive prestige and comfort. From The Beatles and Churchill to Mayweather and the Kardashians, the Rolls Royce is a common form of transport for the rich and famous and has earned the reputation as one of the most bespoke brands in the world. Instead of asking, which part is customisable, it’s easier to ask which part isn’t customisable, as the options and combinations seem infinite.
We recently reviewed the brand’s flagship model, the undisputed Phantom which made its debut in 1925 and is now in its eight generation. Local Malaysian prices for the Rolls Royce Phantom VIII start at RM 2.2 million before tax (SWB short wheel base variant) and RM 2.5 million before tax (EWB extended wheel base variant). With a big price tag, you certainly get a big car as the SWB variant measures at 5762mm (L) x 2018mm (W ) x 1646mm (H) and the EWB measuring 220mm longer. For comparison, the SWB Phantom VIII is longer than the BMW 7 series by 664mm, the Mercedes-Benz S Class by 646mm and the Bentley Mulsanne by 187mm.
Propelling this land yacht is a BMW supplied 6.75L V12 Twin Turbo engine, which is also used in the M760Li and replaces the previous V12 naturally aspirated engine. This innovative twin-turbo charged engine increases power and torque compared to the previous Phantom VII, from 453hp to 563hp and 720 Nm to an astonishing 900 Nm. Equipped with the efficient ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, the Phantom VIII can achieve 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds and the top speed is limited to 250km/h. Weighing in at 2,560kg, the Phantom VIII is by no means a light car however fuel consumption has not been compromised as the official fuel consumption is 14.5L/100km, resulting in a ratio of 1 litre per 6.9km travelled.
Typically, Rolls Royce incorporate the most sophisticated technologies on offer and this generation of the Phantom is no exception, fitted with a built-in GPS system that is connected to satellites to determine the location of the car and sensors to detect road conditions ahead to adjust the vehicle’s ‘shifting rhythm’ to ensure optimal comfort. Four-wheel steering at low and high speeds has been added to allow greater flexibility when it comes to the inevitable U-turn and tight manoeuvers. Revolutionary tires wrap around the 22 inch rims which have been created in partnership with tire manufacturer Continental. Dubbed the “Silent Seal”, a special foam layer is added to the tire to absorb as much noise possible from the tire and road surface, resulting in a unique silent driving experience.
The main distinguishing factor and unique selling point for all Rolls Royces is the interior. As connoisseurs of pristine upholstery, Rolls Royce are highly selective when it comes to materials used and specifically use bull leather, as female cattle leather can be prone to stretch marks during pregnancy. Vegetarians and animal activists will be in uproar to learn it take a total of 8 bulls to upholster a single Rolls Royce! Furthermore, the bulls that are used for the upholstery are raised in a region of Europe where the climate is too cold for mosquitoes to survive, thus offering a blemish free leather.
Showcasing Rolls Royce’s bespoke capabilities, a new feature in the Phantom VIII’s interior can be found on the passenger’s dashboard. Named “The Gallery”, owners are able to completely customise their gallery by adding materials, mementos, objects and accessories. A pure application of glass runs across the fascia to encapsulate the contents behind, thus creating a viewing or showcasing theme. So, what would you place in your gallery ?
The large 12.3-inch central touch screen is essentially the BMW iDrive, but I suppose ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ applies here as the overall infotainment is highly intuitive. This particular Rolls Royce Phantom VIII we drove is equipped with the ‘English White’ colour scheme and many optional extras added, such as front and rear seat massage seats, a small refrigerator for your champagne, wine and decanter, digital TV Turners at the rear and individual picnic tables which complete the first-class environment.
So, what is it like drive? Or should I actually be asking, what is it like in the back being chauffeured around? Well, to answer both questions, it’s great. It is a Rolls Royce in the end and nobody does ‘being a Rolls Royce’ better than Rolls Royce themselves. The light steering wheel, coupled with the automatic suspension adjustment offers an incredible, almost surreal, level of comfort and silence for all passengers within the Phantom VIII. Similar to what I imagine Goku feels when he travels around on the Flying Nimbus, the Phantom VIII wafts along the road like a cloud and with its massive 900Nm torqued V12 mounted in the front, it certainly does it in a hurry.
In summary, the Rolls Royce Phantom VIII is a highly pleasurable experience in all aspects. Before entering a Rolls Royce, one must consider the main ethos and intention of the vehicles, and that is Rolls Royce are not created to be loud, notoriously fast or flamboyant (well depending on owners’ specification) but more so the everyday vehicle to be used for all-purposes. With the Phantom centennial rapidly approaching, we are excitedly anticipating a special creation or celebration to commemorate the occasion.
Which of the following is true?
- The Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong ordered 14 “Peninsula Green” Phantoms
- The Sultan of Brunei has over 500 Rolls Royces
- Businessman Reuben Singh ordered 6 different coloured Phantoms to match his 6 different coloured headscarves
- Premium Cognac label Louis XIII Group ordered 30 Phantoms for Macau’s ‘The 13’ hotel
- All of the above
Correct Answer: (5)
5 FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT ROLLS ROYCE
- Mark Court, the one and only man certified to paint the famous coach line of the Rolls Royce
- Rolls Royce offer a special training program for chauffeurs
- 65% of all Rolls Royce ever built are still on the road
- An outrage Jai Singh, a Maharaja of a princely state of India, ordered ten Rolls Royce to be used as garbage collectors in India after a Rolls Royce salesperson in London implied Singh couldn’t afford the vehicle
- Rolls Royce centre caps do not rotate. Fixed on bearing, the RR symbol remains straight even when driving