Ultra-luxury motor and engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has revealed its brand new Phantom car to the Thai automobile market.
The all-new Phantom Extended Wheelbase, which will fully debut at the 39th Bangkok International Motor Show 2018 from 28 March to 08 April, was unveiled in early March at an exclusive sneak preview event held at the glitzy new Park Hyatt Bangkok at Central Embassy.
The Phantom 8, the first of its kind to be released in 14 years, incorporates technical features like an all-new 6.75-litre, twin-turbocharged V12 engine that produces 563 brake horsepower and 900-newton-metre torque from just 1,700 revolutions per minute, and with acceleration from zero to 100kph in just 5.4 seconds. There’s also four-wheel-steering, a first for a Phantom car. The 5.98m-long extended wheelbase version, with a wheelbase itself of 3.77m, adds 22cm over the standard wheelbase, all of which has been utilised for hugely generous legroom space in the rear suite.
The rear passenger seats of the new Phantom really do feel like they comprise an aeroplane’s first- or business-class suite, too. Aside from the incredible legroom, there are plush amenities like a minibar fridge and Rolls-Royce-branded whisky and champagne glasses. There are even built-in rests to prevent the glasses from bumping during the journey – although Asia-Pacific product manager Sven Grunwald is keen to stress that the ride is already certain to be utterly smooth.
“The worse the roads are, the better it is to have a Rolls-Royce,” Grunwald told Elite+. “The Phantom has great technology that combines a stereo camera, installed behind the rear-view mirror, with the radar system, and together they read the road in front of you. At speeds of up to 100kph, if you drive over a bump in the road you won’t feel it, because the suspension detects the bump in advance.”
Other amenities that reflect the Phantom’s consideration for intricate details include wireless device charging, automatically extendable window shades for total blackout privacy, and of course the signature twinkling night sky internal ceiling, complete with adjustable brightness. What’s more, all four doors can be automatically closed using controls accessible from the driver’s seat, and – just when you thought Rolls-Royce had already thought of everything – colour-coordinated umbrellas unfurl automatically from the inside of the rear door frames at the touch of a button.
For Grunwald, though, what’s most remarkable about the new Phantom is the sheer silence you can experience from within the passenger suite, thanks to 130kg of soundproofing material sandwiched between the two layers of the double aluminium space frame to form a ‘cocoon’.
“As simple as that this, [the silence is] the essence of the car,” he said. “It is the most comfortable, silent car in the world and, over eight years of development, our engineers’ ultimate goal was to make the most luxurious car as quiet as they could. It’s literally a cocoon that shields you from every outside noise.”
Another standout feature is the world’s first moving gallery that is incorporated into the Phantom 8. The car’s fascia now has a blank canvas gallery built into it, allowing customers to personalise the vehicle with their choice of art or other personal memento. Like just about every other aspect of the new Phantom, there’s pleasingly satisfying historical inspiration behind this feature – here it’s that of a custom in Victorian-era England to carry a personal memento with you while travelling; in the Phantom, this gallery and its contents act as the modern take on that memento. A Thai-inspired gallery illustration – the first of its kind influenced by national iconic art – will debut at the International Motor Show.
“The gallery makes the car more than a car – it makes it a moving art gallery,” Grunwald told Elite+. “Even though the new Phantom has only just come onto the market, we have seen very creative ideas come from our customers sitting down with our designers or their own designers, and creating beautiful art pieces.”
Another thing that sets the new Phantom apart from its predecessors is the colour. The Phantom 8 extended wheelbase version has been released as standard in bella donna purple, a new colour for Rolls-Royce among the 44,000 that customers can choose from when customising their vehicle. It’s also timely, given ultra violet is Pantone’s designated ‘colour of the year’ for 2018. The standard wheelbase version, meanwhile, has been released as standard in two-tone gunmetal and silver.
“When we introduce new cars, we create new kinds of launch colours that come as standard,” Grunwald said. “Bella donna purple is one of those new colours. It's a very sparkly purple, and it’s a lovely colour – at night it looks nearly black, but during the day when the sun shines it adds a nice sparkle.”
While Rolls-Royce cars have traditionally been better known for their more subtle colours, Grunwald told Elite+ that shaking things up with more striking shades has helped to introduce the brand to a new type of client.
“When we launched the Dawn, our convertible, it came with full mandarin orange interiors. That was a bold move, but the media reaction and our customers’ perception were incredible. People who never would have imagined a Rolls-Royce in anything other than black, white or silver were struck by the bright colour, and the majority of Dawn customers in the first year took their cars in mandarin orange. It shows that if you demonstrate how products look in certain colours, you can open potential clients’ eyes to the possibilities.”
“The majority of orders are still for more subtle colour choices, but we work to add pleasant accents, and we encourage customers to put a different colour on the door pockets, for instance. It’s like creating a custom-tailored suit jacket; you want to have nice lining in the suit, and that’s how you create the inside of a car as well. It doesn’t have to shout out a loud colour, but subtle colours in the door pockets or in the piping really make a car beautiful.”
“In the end,” Grunwald added, “we fulfil the desires of our customers. If someone wants an entire car in pink, both outside and inside, right down to the floor mats, that’s not a problem. Our CEO always uses the phrase ‘the limit of what we can do is the limit of our customers’ imagination’, and ultimately that’s true. As clichéd as it might sound, we take the time to sit down with our clients for as long as they need in order to come up with something that makes them say “wow, all the time and the money has been worth it.”
Of course, all of these top-end features come at a premium – both in terms of time and cost. The new Phantom 8 starts at 59.5 million baht, in its factory-specification format prior to customisations, and it takes a while to get all the details right, too.
“Timing very much depends on the customer’s specifications,” Grunwald told Elite+, “but it normally takes a minimum of six months for the car to land. Nearly ever car that goes to the Thai market has a bespoke element, and this can take some time. It’s a continuous process, involving our designers and the customer, to finally come up with something that is beautiful – and that level of development can sometimes take up to a year.”
“But this isn’t an item that you buy on a daily basis, so you want to create something really special for yourself, and that means we find our customers are incredibly patient.”
Story by Chris Wotton.