The Rolls-Royce Phantom saloon has been on sale for almost 10 years, yet aside from the addition of an extended wheelbase version in 2005 and a minor front-end restyle in 2008, it has been left unchanged. Until now.
This Series II version is distinguished by new adaptive LED headlights, a much tidier rear bumper design and a revised front bumper.
The biggest mechanical change, meanwhile, is to the automatic transmission; it now has eight speeds instead of six, which helps improve fuel economy by 10% and cuts CO2 emissions from 385g/km to 347g/km.
Theres no change in the cars performance, so the Series II can accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. Thats seriously brisk for such a big, heavy car, and keen drivers can now order a Dynamic Pack that brings stiffened suspension and a recalibrated gearbox.
For the interior, the main change is a much-needed update of the BMW iDrive-derived infotainment system. The bigger screen now provides 3D maps, guided tours and improved route planning, as well as front-, rear- and top-view cameras.
The Phantom cannot yet park itself, though, nor does it provide blind-spot detection, lane-keeping or radar-controlled braking. This is disappointing when such electronic aids are found on cars that cost hundreds of thousands less.
A new eight-speed gearbox helps improve fuel economy by 10% and cuts CO2 from 385g/km to 347g/km
Whats the 2012 Rolls-Royce Phantom like to drive?
As relaxing as ever and just as eager because the V12 engine pulls with a vigour.
The Phantom also impresses for being more agile than you might expect such a gargantuan saloon to be, although you must drive it with a little care to avoid excessive roll and understeer. This, and the occasional shudders through the slender steering wheel-rim, are among the few flaws that betray its age.
The dynamic package improves the Phantoms wieldiness without damaging its ride much, but its no sports saloon. It is, however, a wonderfully luxuriant way to travel, and imperious, too, because you sit high and mighty. That helps you place the car easily, as does accurate steering.
What's the 2012 Rolls-Royce Phantom like inside?
As exquisitely sumptuous as youd expect; the dashboard is beautifully crafted from wood that provides a fine contrast to the rich leather.
You can move the front seats every which-way, but the rear seat is fixed, although its extremely comfortable nevertheless. Space is generous apart from rear legroom, which, given the Phantoms bulk, ought to be greater.
The Phantoms cabin is exceptionally quiet, although the air-conditioning can sometimes intrude, and theres a little wind noise at speed.
Should I buy one?
People in the market for a Phantom might also be considering the Bentley Mulsanne and Maybach 57. However, the subtle luxury of the Phantom remains unsurpassed and its deep and sometimes unexpected abilities only add to its allure, despite the appearance of a few wrinkles.
What Car? says