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The concepts of largesse and largeness, as easy as those words may be to confuse on a Scrabble board, can rarely be applied to a new car as faithfully as to Rolls-Royce’s biggest showroom model: the inimitable Phantom.
Goodwood’s self-proclaimed ‘best car in the world’ was, in its previous generation, the car with which its maker revealed the full size and scope of its ambition under BMW Group ownership in 2003. And it was a limousine unlike any other the world had seen.
Now, in second-generation modern form (although this is the eighth generation of the Phantom in Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ history, they haven’t always run concurrently), the Phantom brings with it an all-new platform that, it’s claimed, makes Rolls-Royce unique as a super-luxury car maker.
It’s also a platform ready to accept the electrified powertrain technologies of the near future and will go on to serve as the basis of every Rolls-Royce model to come. That means it will sever the most important material link between some of those existing models and other BMW Group cars, a link that has been used as a stick with which to beat Rolls-Royce in recent years.
If the outgoing Phantom was the company’s ‘renaissance car’, this one could be just as significant for what’s underneath it and for what it’s capable of. The Phantom has stood relatively unchallenged at the top of our superluxury vehicle class for as long as that class has formally existed, combining unmatched extravagance and grandness with supreme comfort and refinement, remarkable drivability and incredible sense of occasion.
A full Autocar road test on the new-generation version is, in our eyes, an absolute necessity – and, for the sake of the historical record if nothing else, we’re very glad that Rolls-Royce has adopted the same view.
It’s time to reveal, then, exactly how groundbreaking this 2.8-tonne, 5.8m, handbuilt symbol of wealth and status really is, assessed on city roads and across country; both on the motorway and in the motorway service station car park; and measured in objective terms by satellite timing gear and – perhaps even more important – by the decibel.