I recently had the opportunity to drive the all-new 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom, dubbed the "Phantom 8" in automotive circles because it’s the eighth Phantom. It’s also the best Phantom, the most luxurious Phantom, and — even if we’re being totally objective — the most luxurious car in history. In history. No exceptions.
There are many reasons why I say this, but the driving experience is chief among them. I drove the Phantom in La Jolla, California, near San Diego, courtesy of O’Gara La Jolla, which is a high-end exotic car dealership with Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini and Bugatti brands. When they asked if I wanted to come out and film something, my response was almost instinctual: do you have the new Phantom? Because, come on, how could you not want to check out the new Phantom?
And so, check it out, I did. I spent six hours with the thing, examining every nook and cranny and power-operated item that could easily be a manual-operated item. But, as I was saying, the best part is the driving experience: You get behind the wheel and you’re bathed in stupendous, relaxing, wafting luxury; the Phantom completely drowns out the sound of anything else in your vicinity — even stuff that normal luxury cars don’t drown out. How does it get rid of the wind rush created by passing cars when they go by? I have no idea, but I don’t care. Driving the Phantom, you don’t need to think about such trivial details.
Now, on the road, the Phantom has its flaws. The steering is almost laughably light, there’s a ton of body roll around corners, and the thing is so massively huge that no regular, legitimate human person would want to drive it often. But if you own a Phantom, you don’t care. You just don’t care. The whole point is that it’s huge, it wafts around corners, steering is light so as not to require excessive input or bother you in any major way. The entire thing is designed to make things as comfortable as possible.
And oh, how it does that so well. The seats are comfortable, the ride is almost unbelievably soft and even acceleration feels like an effortless, easy affair, since you really don’t hear the engine do all that much. People like you and me see the Phantom, and we wonder: How could anyone pay $550,000 for a car? People who own a Phantom see the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and think: What a commoner.
Seriously, though, there are some major differences compared to the S-Class, and many come down to attention to detail. The Phantom has power doors. You get in, you push a button, and the door closes. The Phantom has automatic-folding rear picnic tables; you push a button, and they come down. You also push a button to retract the hood ornament, you push a button to open the glovebox (one of two) and you push a button to brighten or dim the stars in your "starry night" headliner. You push a button to turn on your massaging seats, and then you choose from one of nine different massage settings. You push a button to turn on the refrigerator mounted between the rear seats. You push a button to close or open the rear blackout shades, which can make the backseats completely dark.
The entire experience is incredible, and not just because so many things are buttonable: you also look around and realize there’s not a single iota of plastic anywhere in the car. Even the rear footwell air vents, normally hidden by the front seats, are aluminum. It’s just incredible luxury, everywhere, on every surface. It might cost triple what an S-Class does — but to the kind of people who notice these things, they’ll notice every little additional touch that makes it worth the money.
Of course, to be clear, I would never pay this much — but then, I’m not the Phantom’s target market. The target market is obscenely wealthy people who have spent their entire working lives in an S-Class, and now they want something better, something crazier, something more luxurious and more expensive and more plush. People who buy this car are rewarding themselves. And the reward is tremendously lovely. Find a Rolls-Royce Phantom for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.
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