What It's Like to Drive the $450,000 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom

A Study in Superlatives
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Image via Rolls Royce1/3

A Study in Superlatives

The Rolls-Royce Phantom is the longest existing nameplate in automotive history, with a 92-year span since its debut. The new car’s visual differences are subtle, but the eighth generation sedan gets a slew of updates that make it quicker, quieter, and nimbler than before, all with the goal of living up to its inscrutable moniker.

Though Phantom is the kind of car that begs for the back seat experience, the nearly 3-ton sedan receives a gain of more than 100 horsepower along with a lighter and stiffer chassis, making the driver’s seat a more covetable spot. The hulking 6.6-liter V12 is now turbocharged and churns 563 horsepower and a Howitzer-like 664 lb-ft of torque, whisking it to 60 mph in a spritely 5.1 seconds.

But whippier performance does not a big bad Roller make—and you’ll barely hear that snappy twelve-banger because Rolls engineers have stuffed 280 pounds of sound deadening material within the floorboards and doors, aided by new tires with insulating foam inserts and thick, double-paned glass to seal out the pesky din of peasants. The result is an even more hushed cabin than the 7th gen car, one that Rolls-Royce says makes the new Phantom the quietest passenger vehicle on the planet. In keeping with the museum-like theme is Rolls’s new Gallery feature, which offers a space behind a window on the dashboard to display any commissioned art the owner chooses. Rolls-Royce launched one-offs with artists who used everything from ceramic to polished aluminum to bird feathers. One example offers a 3D map of the owner’s DNA, offering a new and improved form of visual ego representation. Neat. If you can’t wait the year or so it takes to commission a one-off, Rolls offers an array of off-the-rack options for immediate installation.

And then there are other details like the headlights, which are housed in a frosted structure inspired by Lalique crystal, use lasers to throw photons 2,000 feet down the road; Rolls’s iconic Parthenon grille that’s now wider, deeper, and for the first time is leaned subtly back into the body; side frames along the body which use the largest single piece of stainless steel in the auto industry. We could go on, but let’s go where the rubber meets the road instead.