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IT COULD BE SAID THAT Rolls-Royce Motor Cars doesn’t roll like the others, but when it decides to design and unveil something new, the whole world stops to look. The company’s limited and exclusive range currently includes the Wraith, the Ghost and the Dawn, but the latest entity to haunt the competition and quicken the spirits of the one per cent is the new Phantom VIII.

The initial launch of the new Phantom was in July in London where it was accompanied by seven generations of Phantoms through the ages, including such models as the psychedelic Phantom V belonging to John Lennon and the stunning Phantom III belonging to Field Marshall Montgomery.

The new Phantom’s Asia-Pacific launch will be held in September in Hong Kong, where an equally interesting and enchanting display has been assured.

Founded in 1904, Rolls-Royce is perhaps the most famous and alluring name in the automotive world and for more than a century has built the world’s most decadent, luxurious cars, with the Phantom being the carriage of choice for royalty, heads of state, heads of industry, rock stars and the stars of the stage.

Rolls-Royce has offered a Phantom model since 1925, actually making it the longest-running model of car in the world at 92 years. Throughout this time, it has delivered unrivalled elegance and reliability to the Queen of England and been the symbol of success and admiration for Fred Astaire.

Many other marques have put forth challenges with their versions of quality and offerings of luxury, but none has sustained a lasting challenge. Rolls-Royce’s ethos and perception is different from that of any competitor as the company doesn’t appear to overly concern itself with volume of sales or production line runs, which would be the bottom line for any other automotive company.

Instead, it focuses on the production of the perfect product, incorporating exclusive materials, exclusive engineering, exclusive craftsmanship and ultimately selling it to an exclusive clientele (at a very exclusive price).

Great eighth generation

The Phantom VIII is a totally new car from the tyres up, meaning it shares no part or design characteristic with any of its sister models or predecessors. It has a completely new body design, a new chassis platform, a new engine and new technology. In fact, everything you could think of is totally new. The styling, although reminiscent of the previous Phantom VII, is a definite leap towards the modern and contemporary.

The famous imposing front radiator grille is now bigger than ever. However, it actually appears to be a little smaller to the eye as it blends more into the overall design and combines with softer lines that run unbroken from the front grille all the way to the rear.

The new Phantom strikes an imposing stance with a monolithiclike front area, which sweeps back and reduces to eventually taper at the rear, giving a less fussy appearance compared to the previous Phantom VII. This front-to-rear taper, together with a new roof line, also gives the new Phantom VIII a regal sense of movement and road presence, and helps to shrink the proportions of this cathedral-sized car.

Phantom VIII is built upon a bespoke aluminium structure – which will form the basis for all future Rolls-Royce models – and is 30 per cent more rigid than the previous Phantom. This improvement in rigidity helps the overall ride quality and when coupled to the company’s legendary air suspension system, promises a sublime ride.

One interesting technological improvement to the suspension quality is the incorporation of a stereo camera system. Twin forward-looking cameras scan the road ahead looking for any bumps or dips and with the aid of some very clever software they prime the car’s suspension before reaching said obstacle, ensuring the magic carpet ride is never disturbed.

The Phantom also utilises a four-wheel steering system which promotes greater high-speed stability and better low-speed manoeuvrability, and is likely to be one of the more favoured features by chauffeurs.

There’s also a brand-new V12 engine under that beautiful one-piece hood. The specifications of the engine remain the same as before, with 6.75 litres and twin-turbo chargers.

However, the performance has greatly improved and now boasts 573bhp and an astounding 900Nm of torque, meaning it can provide serious acceleration despite the car’s overall weight of around 2.6 tonnes.

Furthermore, the flawless, eight-speed gearbox is now linked to the navigation system, so the Phantom can pre-select a gear depending on the road ahead and perfectly time its shifts.
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Theatre of dreams

The theatre continues as soon as you enter the car through a pair of rear-hinged doors which can close automatically at the touch of your finger; great for when the butler is out of town. Inside, you’ll find an interior befitting of a Beverly Hills mansion.

Rolls-Royce pursues an unrelenting attention to detail which seems to go way beyond the automotive and none but the absolutely finest materials will find their way into this cabin. An example of this would be the 15 or more cow hides required for the leatherwork. The company insists on using hides sourced from alpine cows as there are fewer biting insects in this part of the world and thus, less chance of imperfections in the final product.

Another could be the ‘Gallery’ which is essentially an open space encased in glass running the length of the passenger side dash. The purpose of this open space is to allow each client to showcase a piece of uniquely commissioned art which can be designed and made for them by a number of famous artists. So much for not leaving your valuables on display inside the car.

One could go on listing each unique part and accessory and the quality thereof, but the summation of this would be a description of what can only be called the perfect automobile. Regal-rich carpets and the finest woods and metals combine with over 130kg of sound-proofing to make the world’s quietest cabin. Whether you prefer to drive or be driven, you are assured of the very best seat on the road

Rolls-Royce has even gone as far as to line the inside of the car’s tyres with sound-deadening foam in order to further hush this already ghostly-quiet car. A few other features that show the forward thinking and technological excellence of the company are the laser headlights, which can penetrate 600m down the road, the night-vision system, the  heads-up display, the active cruise control and the Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices. Yet, despite all these marvels, the cabin remains perfectly uncluttered and fit for a Queen.

As a statement and as an event, few cars come close to the Rolls Royce Phantom VIII. It is a car that in almost all ways has no rivals and should rather be considered alongside a luxury apartment or perhaps a unique piece of jewellery.

If you are fortunate enough to be among the privileged and someone who has that kind of equity to enjoy, there really is no finer choice of automobile – and, perhaps, no better way to travel.www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com
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Clockwise from top left: The Aga Khan’s Phantom IV; John Lennon’s Phantom V; Queen Elizabeth II’s Phantom VI; the Phantom VII.