- The highest-level of luxury and comfort
- Conspicuous consumption at its best
- Classic Rolls-Royce styling
- Effortless, refined powerplant
- Conspicuous consumption at its height
- Handling, agility not a strong suit
- Huge price tag, before options
With a price tag to match, the Rolls-Royce Phantom soldiers into its last year before a redesign as desirable as ever.
Representing the essentially unobtainable, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is at the top of the luxury car food chain. It makes a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW look like something you'd lease and move on from—and even though it's up for a redesign soon, the Phantom remains an amazing piece of machinery.
It's the pinnacle of the automotive world, the sole occupant of this rarified, purified, and luxo-laden world. Its price tag matches its opulence, should you have the pocketbook that can sustain its price of entry.
We've rated the Phantom lineup as an 8.0 out of 10; what keeps it from perfection is its sky-high price tag and its hefty fuel consumption, neither of which likely matter to its target audience.
The Phantom can be had as a Coupe, a Drophead Coupe (convertible), or a four-door sedan, and each represents the definitive statement of what makes Rolls-Royce so special. All are lavish in their design flourishes, with extra close attention to detail paid to every single element. Rear-hinged doors remind us of the importance of is back seat passengers when they arrive at the red carpet in style. And just in case you're ready to hop out before the driver or doorman gets there, the rear doors are operated by a push-button.
Flagship luxury and performance
Though the Phantom's basic genes date back nearly a decade and a half to 2003, the look is timeless. Up front, minor updates to the classic Rolls-Royce grille dominate its appearance (and have inspired imitators). Slab-sided proportions and the hiding Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament remind us of the company's past. Yet its look is all fresh inside, with an interior that raises the bar for opulence. Every material is authentic—full-grain wood, leathers that are hand-stitched, metal trim, and true craftsmanship show off this amazing attention to detail.
It's that last notion that is the Phantom's strong suit, with art deco lighting and old-world charm highlighting its dials and buttons, despite the high level of modern electronics. Highlights include a headliner fitted with LEDs that give passengers the feel of gazing into the night sky. The Drophead Coupe can even be fitted with real teak decking around its back that wouldn't be out of place on a Riva yacht. It's a flagship in every sense of the word.
Behind its massive grille sits a 6.75-liter V-12 engine rated at 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque, numbers Rolls once referred too as "adequate." It may not impress on the spec sheet like the smaller Ghost, but it's still enough to hustle the Phantom to 60 mph from a stop in under six seconds in a way that's most effortless. An 8-speed automatic imperceptibly shifts power from the engine to the rear wheels.
This is not a driver's car, although the front seat is a decadent place to be. It's meant to be ridden in, with a driver at the helm. Handling and agility are not among its strengths, but they're still impressive given its Chevrolet Suburban-esque dimensions and nearly 6,000 pound curb weight. It lords over everything short of a full-size truck, allowing its passengers to literally look down on everyone else. Underneath sits self-leveling air springs, electronic damping, and steering as light as a feather that provide more handling aplomb than most passengers might expect.
While the Phantom hasn't been crash-tested by the official agencies, it is a substantial piece of machinery, made largely of steel, and outfitted with nearly all of the modern technologies fitted to cars, including traction and stability control, a suite of airbags, parking sensors, and optional front and rear cameras. Some of the latest in computerized safety features aren't available, however, including lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot detection. Here's where the Phantom could use some more modernization.
The standard features list on the Phantom is extensive; nearly anything not included can be added on request—for a fee, of course. Custom paint, embroidery, wheels, headliners, upholstery styles and colors, steering wheels, drink cabinets, and nearly any technological add-on you can imagine are all possible. This is the archetypal the-customer-is-always-right situation. The limits are your imagination and wealth.
Little has changed since the Phantom was new in the 2009 model year—you can read our first drive of the Rolls-Royce Phantom at our sister site, Motor Authority.
Fuel economy is in line with its size, at 11 mpg city, 19 highway, 14 combined for all models. Like that matters.