New & Used Rolls-Royce Phantom: In Depth
2015 Rolls-Royce PhantomEnlarge Photo
The Rolls-Royce Phantom is the top model from the storied British automaker, offered in a choice of four body styles. Its only true competitor is the more understated Mulsanne from long-time rival Bentley. The Phantom is one of the largest cars on the road and arguably has the presence to match.
For more information, including specifications, see our 2014 Rolls-Royce Phantom page
Today's Phantom lineup counts among it a large sedan in two wheelbase lengths; a coupe; and a convertible model known as the Drophead Coupe. Together they offer a classic luxury-car experience, effortless V-12 thrust, and quintessential British styling and charm.
Perhaps proving that old is only eventually new again, the retro-styled Phantom was not immediately accepted as a design success when it first came on the scene in 2003. The brash, squared-off look began to take off once trendsetting stars and athletes took to BMW's first attempt at a proper British motoring car. The Phantom is now a favorite among the chauffeured set, especially in extended-wheelbase form, which was added in 2007 and provides an extra ten inches of rear legroom. It's now often found in mega-buck hotel fleets and has sired a pair of two-door offspring.
With a 6.8-liter V-12 engine making 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque, a six-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive, the nearly 5,800-pound Phantom can still dash to 60 mph in well under six seconds—in, it must be added, a sort of spooky silence, with only the slightest low-pitched whoosh. The unobtrusive powertrain feel is matched with a confident but strictly uninvolved driving experience all around. This isn't a car you really want to hustle down a curvy canyon road near its limit; for the weight of the vehicle, there isn't a whole lot of available grip, even though it's stable and brakes are confident. Entry and exit in the sedan are easy, thanks to the wide-opening door setup, with the rears hinged at the back
Buyers of the Phantom will also pay a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax with any model. While that surely won't strain their budget much, it might make shoppers more aware of the Phantom's low, 11-mpg city, 19-mpg highway EPA ratings.
The Phantom is not a car for the shy or timid; those who have a distaste for conspicuous consumption need not apply. If, however, you intend to employ a driver, appreciate a mobile drinks cabinet, and enjoy fineries such as teak trim, there's no better car in which to be seen. The Phantom exudes wealth and exclusivity, making a statement wherever it goes.
Rolls-Royce's Bespoke ordering system allows a customer to essentially order any build configuration among a list of thousands of features and combinations—or completely concoct their own new features for a hefty price. Possibilities include a starlight headliner, cooling box, wood-veneered instrument panel, seat piping, and the aforementioned drinks cabinet, among many others.
Aside from the extended-wheelbase models and a few feature changes, the Phantom sedan has changed little over the years. It was joined by both the Phantom Drophead Coupe (in 2008), and Phantom Coupe (in 2009). The Drophead Coupe, which starts at $448,000, and the Coupe, at $405,000, have about the same dimensions; instead of the suicide-door arrangement of the sedan, the two-doors use a set of rear-hinged openings. Both can fit four if needed and offer comparably deft performance and an equally plush ride. For those with a desire for even more exclusivity, a number of special editions have been offered, while pretty much every Rolls is made to order and therefore unique to its owner.
Rolls-Royce recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Phantom lineup with the launch of a Series II edition at the Geneva Motor Show. The full range--sedan, coupe, and drophead coupe models--received updates to styling, drivetrains, connectivity features, and other luxury accoutrements to keep things fresh until a successor arrives.
An unusual recall was issued for 2013 models due to a missing anti-misfueling device. In 2014, the Phantom Drophead Coupe Waterspeed Collection was revealed, offering an intriguing set of styling and equipment details, including a unique Maggiore Blue exterior paint color. The Waterspeed Collection Phantom was built in a limited run of just 35 cars.
The latest Phantom offerings include a special Nighthawk package for the Drophead model. Nine will be sold in the U.S., each with black paint, a black interior with red accents, tons of carbon-fiber trim, and a $569K price tag.
An all-new version of the Phantom is expected to make its debut for the 2018 model year, bringing with it updates to the powertrain—including a possible plug-in hybrid option—styling, luxury equipment, and more. Power should meet, if not beat, that offered by the smaller Ghost and Wraith models, which currently put out up to 616 horsepower from a 6.6-liter BMW-derived V-12. It's possible that the aging 6.8-liter V-12 will be replaced by a more modern V-12 design.