The benchmark saloon is setting a new benchmark.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom ultra-luxury limousine is only the second iteration of the iconic brand’s flagship model since its owner, the BMW Group, introduced the first contemporary version 14 years ago.
Officially called the Phantom VIII, it is the most expensive production sedan in the market, with a price tag further magnified in Singapore by taxes and a quota licence that can make it cost three times more than in its country of manufacture, England.
Yet, there is pent-up demand despite a list price here that starts from S$1,778,888 before options and a certificate of entitlement (COE).
More than a dozen orders have been taken by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Singapore for the new Phantom, even before the first example arrives in the first quarter of next year. It mirrors the global trend, where strong demand has resulted in the model being completely sold out for 2018.
There are several reasons for the exuberance displayed by ultra-high net worth individuals all over the world.
Branding is certainly a key factor. The Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament is an instantly recognisable status symbol even if the “flying lady” is not mounted atop the famously oversized front grille.
Luxury is a default feature when it comes to any Rolls-Royce but the new Phantom’s focus on materials and special bespoke specifications is unique.
And the fact that it has been 14 years since the last model means it is a long-awaited replacement for some very wealthy owners, as well as quite a few well-heeled upgraders.
Then there is the car itself. Luxury is a default feature when it comes to any Rolls-Royce but the new Phantom’s focus on materials and special bespoke specifications is unique.
But first, the styling. The massive limousine with the trademark rear coach doors is even more imposing for its bigger front grille. Yet at 5,762 millimetres in length, this large limo is actually 80 mm shorter.
As expected, there will be an EWB or Extended Wheelbase version which is about 10 inches or 250 mm longer. For the additional rear legroom, expect to add S$310,000 to the list price.
Standard or extended wheelbase, the cabin has the usual wide expanse of exquisitely selected wood and leather. But one new item stands out – “The Gallery’’.
Rolls-Royce has invited international artists and artisans to interpret the gallery with their pieces. Or if they prefer, the owners themselves can commission their own artworks.
Behind the glass expanse of the dashboard fascia, Rolls-Royce has invited international artists and artisans to interpret the gallery with their pieces. Or if they prefer, the owners themselves can commission their own artworks.
But it is the legendary Rolls-Royce “waftability’’ where the envelope has been truly pushed.
Not only has the suspension been tweaked to enhance the magic-carpet ride, but four-wheel-steering has been introduced to optimise weight transfer when changing lanes or cornering. This will minimise body roll and maximise ride comfort.
As for the exceptional cabin ambience, it is even more hushed, thanks to the body’s more rigid all-aluminium architecture. Among other improvements, there is a quieter V12 engine and remarkable 21-inch tyres with sound insulation to absorb road noise.
All these innovations propel the new Rolls-Royce Phantom into another league in the ultra-luxury segment.
But it is also the new face of ownership that has reinforced the position of this hallowed marque.
In Asia, where the changing brand perception has seen a younger set of buyers looking beyond supercars and embracing Rolls-Royce’s more traditional form of luxury, the make’s status and gravitas have been enhanced.
This is especially true in countries such as China, Japan and the Middle East, and it can only mean that this sybaritic saloon will continue to be the king of the road for a long time to come.