EXACTLY nine years after the first Phantom wafted into Singapore, there is an updated version of this super-luxury limousine. Despite its ageless styling, Rolls-Royce has slightly tweaked the Phantom Series II so that its facelifted front end now sports LED headlamps and a new bumper, along with a redesigned rear bumper and three new wheel finishes. But otherwise, the massive sedan remains as imposing as ever.
Instead, the major changes are to be found under the expansive sheet metal. The old six-speed automatic transmission has made way for a new eight-speeder, with the improved gear ratios cutting both the fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of the naturally aspirated 6.75-litre V12 by 10 per cent. Under the combined cycle, consumption is now 14.8 litres per 100 km while emissions are 347 g/km.
Together with the optimised air suspension, the ambience of the cavernous cabin is further enhanced. And this is considering that "sublime" is usually the word used to describe the experience in the rear of a Phantom.
In the Series II, the noise, vibration and harshness levels are reduced and the magic carpet ride is even smoother. Ensconced in one of the two the rear individual electric seats that has been raised theatre-style, the subtle thumping noise that used to be heard when going over an irregular surface is diminished. Now, only some tyre noise remains.
The ultra-luxurious interior of the Phantom Series II is mostly unchanged except for the smaller front door pockets due to the addition of a crash pad for better side impact protection, and the new display screen in the centre of the dashboard is larger. The screen resembles the one in the BMW 7 Series saloon (the BMW Group owns the Rolls-Royce brand) and includes a new camera system to aid the manoeuvring of the large limo in tight spaces.
Five cameras - one at each corner of the front bumper and under each wing mirror, plus one in the trunk lid - combine to produce a fish-eye view that is perfect for blind junctions or when reversing.
For the driver, there is also a palpable difference. The Series II's progress has become slightly more urgent. The eight-speed gearbox makes the big limo more responsive and the initial "sluggishness" from the old car when moving off from stationary has disappeared. This also has the effect of "reducing" the size is of the 5.84-metre-long car and making it less obvious.
Nevertheless, on paper, there is no change to the performance specifications. Maximum power stays at 460 hp while maximum torque is a hefty 720 Newton-metres. And the 2,560 kg Phantom - a relative lightweight because of the aluminium spaceframe - still accelerates from zero to 100 kmh in just 5.9 seconds. For something almost as big as a GCB, you have to admit it's hardly shabby.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II
Engine 6749cc V12
Transmission 8-speed tiptronic
Max power 460 hp @ 5,350 rpm
Max torque 720 Nm @ 3,500 rpm
0-100 kmh 5.9 secs
Top speed 240 kmh (governed)
CO2 emissions 347 g/km
Price from $1.51 million
Distributor Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Singapore