Rolls-Royce Phantom review

Category: Luxury car

The most luxurious car in the world is exceedingly hard to fault. You’ll need very deep pockets to buy and run one, though.

Rolls-Royce Phantom front - sky blue
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom front - sky blue
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 rear road tracking
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 RHD dashboard
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 rear seats
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 front left exterior
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 front seats
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 centre console detail
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 infotainment detail
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 dashboard detail
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom front - sky blue
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom front - sky blue
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 rear road tracking
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 RHD dashboard
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 rear seats
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 front left exterior
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 front seats
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 centre console detail
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 infotainment detail
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 dashboard detail
  • Rolls-Royce Phantom front - sky blue
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Target Price from £420,000
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Although car brands will occasionally bleat on about their history and how long a certain model name has been on sale, we can’t think of any that are quite so long lasting as the Rolls-Royce Phantom. While the famous British marque is unlikely to boast about this fact – such bragging is arguably far too vulgar – we’re quite happy to point out that the name first appeared in 1925.

Yes, there have been a couple of occasions where the name disappeared for a decade or so, but it has been a firm fixture in the range since 2003. Now on only its eighth generation, the Phantom remains the pinnacle of the Rolls-Royce range and, arguably, the new car market as a whole.

Like its direct predecessor, the Phantom is a gargantuan saloon that stands nearly as tall as some Range Rovers and is almost six metres long if you opt for the extended-wheelbase model. Underneath a bonnet long enough to be used as a runway sits a 6.75-litre V12 that’s bolstered by a couple of turbochargers. Power is most definitely adequate: there’s enough of it to fling the Phantom from 0-62mph in a little over five seconds.

But although it’s quick and has both adaptive air suspension and four-wheel steering to make it the most nimble Phantom to date, this is no sports saloon. No, this is a car built to cosset and calm its occupants in their own bespoke leather-lined cocoon.

How you decorate this cocoon is almost entirely up to you; there is a brochure full of colours, upholsteries and options you can choose from. And, if your bank balance has enough noughts before the decimal point, Rolls Royce will gladly add to, remove from or adapt your Phantom in any way you like.

Although we suspect Rolls-Royce would say the Phantom is without rivals, we’d argue that the Bentley Mulsanne serves as a similarly bespoke and far sportier alternative, while the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class is also worth a look. Sure, you could argue that the regular S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 are also rivals, but that’s like suggesting that an M&S meal deal is comparable to a hamper from Fortnum’s.

Should you be in the market for a luxury motor vehicle of any kind, then do have a look at our New Car Buying section for big savings on hundreds of new conveyances.

Overview

The most luxurious car in the world is exceedingly hard to fault. You’ll need very deep pockets to buy and run one, though.

  • Immensely comfortable
  • Far more agile than it looks
  • Fine materials all beautifully put together
  • Occasional thud over potholes
  • Furiously expensive
New car deals
Target Price from £420,000
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £479,950

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Even the very lightest Phantom weighs a mighty 2.5 tonnes; that’s no surprise given that the sound deadening alone accounts for a staggering 130kg of that. There’s an aluminium structure at the heart of the Phantom to prevent this bulk getting any more truck-like, and it’s stiffer, too. This helps the suspension work as well as it can and should banish any creaks when you hit a bump.

Rolls-Royce Phantom image
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To make sure performance feels sufficiently effortless, you’ll find a six-and-three-quarter (in Rolls speak) litre V12 with two turbochargers. Its 563bhp power output is impressive enough, but a more important number is the 664lb ft of torque it produces at just 1700rpm. That means the smallest squeeze of the accelerator has the Phantom gaining speed easily; bury the right pedal in that oh-so-thick carpet and it catapults down the road in a deeply impressive manner, gently accompanied by the smoothest of V12 soundtracks from the engine room.

Such behaviour is about as loud as the Phantom gets. There's virtually no road noise and its mechanical components work smoothly and silently. However, so well are the other sources of noise suppressed that your ear is drawn to a bit of wind flutter.

As you’d hope, the Phantom is exceptionally good at smoothing out rough road surfaces. Undulating asphalt is soaked up without fuss; only potholes and sharp pimples generate a slight thud that you hear more than feel. It’s certainly more comfortable than the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series, although we suspect an Audi A8 on small wheels would give it a run for its money.

Given its size, the Phantom is surprisingly wieldy, thanks to its four-wheel steering system. This gives it a much tighter turning circle at low speeds, by steering the front and rear wheels in opposite directions. The steering is fingertip-light when you’re bumbling around town but weights up just enough as you go faster, allowing you to place the Phantom on the road precisely. Body lean is well contained given the car’s lofty profile and there’s lots of grip, but it just doesn’t feel appropriate to hustle one of these along with vigour.

Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 rear road tracking

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Put simply, automotive interiors don’t get any more luxurious than this. With supple leather, real metal trims, beautiful woodwork and astonishing attention to detail, the Phantom will satisfy even the most picky of high-rollers. Quality is top notch and the level of personalisation on offer beggars belief. If you have the money, there really isn’t much Rolls-Royce can’t, or indeed won’t, do.

The Phantom’s BMW-derived iDrive system has a big 10.25in central screen controlled by a rotary dial mounted between the front seats. It works just like the same system does in a 1 Series – which might irk some owners – but has bespoke Rolls-Royce graphics to differentiate it from BMWs. The screen is bright and crisp, the menus are clearly laid out and learning how everything works takes no time at all.

The Phantom’s classy interior environment doesn’t ignore the importance of sound ergonomics. The driver sits at near-Land Rover altitude, with masses of head and leg room, although thick rear pillars designed to give rear seat occupants privacy do harm rear visibility. Large windows mean side visibility is good, while the view down the bonnet is excellent and that Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet figurehead serves as a guide to just where the prow of the Phantom is. Helping matters is a standard 360deg camera system that makes parking far less fraught.

Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 RHD dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The Phantom has rear-hinged rear doors, to make it easier to get in and out. They open wide giving superb access to the rear seats and, once inside, two adult occupants will have an enormous amount of space to stretch out. You have the choice of a three-seat bench or a couple of different two-seat layouts, including one where the rear seat folds into something resembling a bed.

We tried a four-seater with the rear entertainment package and found that space was not an issue, even with a tall driver at the controls. Electric adjustment allows those in the back to recline for more comfort, while heated, ventilated and massaging seats ramp up the luxury further. There’s a large armrest between yourself and your passenger that opens to reveal controls for the rear seat entertainment, and our test example even had a fridge with a pair of champagne glasses.

For those who need even more room, there’s a long-wheelbase ‘EWB’ version, and if you find knee room is tight in that, you ought to be in the Guinness Book of Records, if you aren’t already.

After a busy session at Harrods, you should be able to squeeze all of your shopping into the sizeable boot. Its 568-litre capacity is a fair bit more than is offered by the S-Class and A8 but substantially less than you’ll find in a Range Rover.

As standard, the rear seats can’t be adjusted or folded down to extend the boot, although no doubt Rolls-Royce could sort it with enough money thrown its way. That said, the thought of lugging garden waste down to the tip in a £300k car seems a little comical.

Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 rear seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

You don’t enter Rolls-Royce ownership under any illusion of frugality, and its enormous purchase price is to be expected. So are the eye-opening running costs, but again, anyone who can shell out this kind of money for a car won’t really care.

What’s more, the Phantom is very well equipped, with four-wheel steering, air suspension, lots of leather and wood, a head-up display and of course an automatic gearbox as standard. Rolls-Royce’s bespoke programme allows plenty of scope for customisation; you can have pretty much anything you want – at a price.

Inside, it’s possible to add a huge range of extras, including TV screens, fridges, glass holders and reversible floor mats; the list is really only limited by your imagination if you have enough money. As you'd expect, the Phantom comes with a host of airbags and electronic driver aids to help you avoid bashing your pride and joy, along with a collision warning, lane departure warning and even night vision.

Ultimately, you’ll spend a shed load less cash if you choose an S-Class, Range Rover, A8 or 7 Series, but none of these is really the same if you’re looking for the ultimate luxury car. All of those models use less fuel and cost less to tax, but they are still built on production lines by robots, not painstakingly crafted by hand.

Rolls-Royce Phantom 2018 front left exterior
At a glance
New car deals
Target Price from £420,000
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £479,950
RRP price range £420,000 - £481,800
Number of trims (see all)1
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 17.66 - 17.88
Available doors options 4
Warranty 4 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £30,873 / £35,446
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £61,746 / £70,892
Available colours