(Image Credits: Rolls-Royce)
The eighth iteration of the Rolls-Royce Phantom was rolled out today with a red-carpet launch party and a suitably pompous press release proclaiming the car to have the "most silent" interior of anything on the road. It pretty much looks like the Rolls-Royce flagship you already know, but with a few new technological tricks up its sleeve.
The car is basically a penthouse apartment hitched to four wheels and a 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 rated to 563 horsepower and 301kg-ft of torque, on tap from a burbling 1,700 RPM, running to the rear wheels through a ZF eight-speed transmission.
That shifter is also tied into the car's GPS to optimise shift points based on where you're going. The idea is to optimise engine speed for corners and hills. Why should the driver have to worry about such trivialities?
As for the Phantom VIII's radical claims of quietness, the car's basically been loaded with almost 136kg of sound insulation to keep its occupants from the offensive noises of the outside world.
Rolls-Royce has a lot to say about this stuff:
Incalculable effort was expended to create 'the most silent motor car in the world' including 6mm two-layer glazing all around the car, more than 130kg of sound insulation, the largest ever cast aluminium joints in a body-in-white for better sound insulation, and use of high absorption materials.
Acoustic insulation from road noise has been helped by the employment of double skin alloy on areas within the floor and bulkhead of the spaceframe. This is a feature unique to New Phantom. Further noise insulation by inserting dense foam and felt layers are between these skins to provide sound insulation not witnessed before in the car industry.
In addition, high absorption layers within the headliner, in the doors and in the boot cavity have further aided insulation and reduced reverberation. Rolls-Royce also worked closely with its tyre supplier to invent 'Silent-Seal' tires — which feature a specific foam layer placed inside the tyre to wipe out tyre cavity noise and reduce overall tyre noise by 9db, meaning that conversation within the car is completely effortless.
All in all it is a perfect 360° cocooning effect in a motor car that is approximately 10 per cent quieter than its predecessor at 100km/h. Indeed, when Rolls-Royce's acoustic test engineer first reviewed results road and vibration tests, the sound levels were so low they had to check their instruments were calibrated correctly.
Beyond that the car is bristling with driver-aid equipment like night vision, active cruise control, a four-camera 360-degree parking assistant, long-range sensors designed to detect traffic before you might, and what I can only assume are the nicest seats in a car yet.
But who cares about pre-collision warnings, doesn't your mum's Nissan Rogue have something like that?
Don't worry, the Roller's spec sheet gets significantly more insufferable, or awesome, depending on which side of the Wall Street protest police barricade you're reading this from.
Rolls-Royce has coined the term "The Embrace" to describe the "event" of entering the car. "As the patron settles in to the car, an assistant or valet steps forward and lightly touches the sensor on the door handle so it whispers closed of its own accord, enveloping the occupant in 'The Embrace', reads the most-heavily thesaurus'd press release I've ever seen.
Once you've successfully completed this miraculous door opening-and-closing ceremony, you're treated to heated seats and heated front door armrests, a heated front center console lid, a heated lower C-Pillar, heated rear side armrests with all individual seats, and a heated rear center armrest.
Penguins and polar bears can stay the hell out of this car. For everyone else, it sounds like you can pretty much enjoy summer comfort parked on the South Pole should you so desire.
While you're warming every inch of your body and buttocks, you can check out what Rolls-Royce refers to as "The Gallery". And actually, the pretentious verbiage is actually spot-on. The Phantom VIII's gallery is quite literally an art installation in the dashboard, which buyers can commission individually.
Not sure what to put on there? Rolls-Royce has some suggestions:
"Works as various as an oil painting inspired by the South Downs of England in Autumn by renowned Chinese fine artist Liang Yuanwei, a gold-plated 3D-printed map of an owners DNA created by the enfant terrible of German product design Thorsten Franck, a hand-made stem of the finest porcelain roses handmade by world renowned porcelain manufacturer Nymphenberg or an abstract design in silk by young British artist Helen Amy Murray are some of the creations inspired by this most unusual of Gallery spaces."
You hear that, rich folk? No more paper-clipping your granddaughter's school pictures to the dash vents. Now you can ride around with a masterpiece staring your passengers in the face.
It does not look like Rolls-Royce has announced an official price of the Phantom VIII. And I guess if you have to ask, you're probably one of the people pelting these things with raw eggs and fake blood from the wrong side of a velvet rope.