There are many fixed imageries that come to mind at the mere mention of the Rolls-Royce Phantom. Opulent, silent and authoritative, it’s the CEO’s car, the pinnacle of luxury, the emblem of success.
Having spent an evening with it however, we came to discover another façade to it: It’s not quite as intimidating as most people make it out to be. Despite its lumbering size that matches its reputation, it’s … lithe.
It drops jaws and turns heads, for sure. Traffic almost autonomously part for it, yes. What we didn’t expect was how, given its status and prominence, it’s also surprisingly versatile for getting around for the day-to-day.
Heading out for a quick appointment and then dinner with it was a very pleasant, empowering experience. If anything, it sped a few errands up simply for its prestige, and proved a reliable and very handsome steed for a lady out and about the city.
It’s beautiful on the outside….
First impression of the Rolls-Royce Phantom will stop you in your tracks. It’s a stunning car with an extended front that lends a slender silhouette to the entire vehicle despite its formidable size. It flashes everyone an almost coquettish smile as you approach, flaunting its best features by means of its gleaming Pantheon Grille and hand-painted Coachline. Topping it all off is the Spirit of Ecstacy, floating as if in thin air, winking you an invitation to come on board. Don’t mind if we do.
Boarding it is a wow factor by itself, all credits going to its suicide doors that swing open in a hushed whisper. It serves a pragmatic purpose on top of an aesthetic one – it’s meant to shield you from unwanted attention and what-have you on both sides for you to climb in uninterrupted. Chic, and thoughtful.
… and breathtaking on the inside
Before you’re even done recollecting yourself from the doors, more await inside to steal your breath. Sitting back feels like sinking in to the softest leather, each piece tanned, stretched, shaped and lovingly stitched together by master craftsmen. The seats are adjustable at the push of a finger of a toggle along the doorframe to your perfect height and recline. Massage rollers pre-installed in the seats are also at ready to knead some of the day’s stress away.
As you settle into the warm arms of relaxation, don’t forget to look up and be mesmerised by the stars shining down on you. The Phantom’s iconic Starlight is a celestial canopy of 1,344 individually placed fibre-optic stars, each shining through perforations in the Phantom’s leather roof lining. They can glow, shine, pulse, or depict any constellation precisely as they are on any day. They can also be arranged into any bespoke graphic pattern in any colour. With it, the stars are yours to command.
The devil really lies in the details, especially with the Phantom. Every part is made and put together for undisputed luxury so well that some even go unnoticed – until you need it. Little touches include powered footrests that can be raised as and when your heels start to take a toll on those calves; fingertip control buttons to almost everything easily located by the frames of respective doors whether you’re behind the wheel, riding shotgun or lounging in the back enjoying your ride; and backlit mirrors that light up when you pull them down for each seat – perfect for that final touch up before you get off for your appointment.
Most useful of all is perhaps is the Privacy Suite feature, which as its name suggests, can turn the entire passenger cabin into a soundproof space for complete and utmost privacy. A simple press of a button gets glass sliding partitions up and the rest of the world gets left outside for those days you need to discuss anything important or just have a little peace and quiet to yourself.
The world’s most silent car
Getting around town in a Phantom feels all kinds of fine. Passersby peer in through the windows trying to see who’s board a lot. That’s when the automated privacy curtains come in might handy, although it’s not quite necessary as your seat is nestled a surmountable amount of distance behind the window so you’re quite shielded even without it.
The drive itself is a dream, where it feels like you’re gliding on grey ribbon strips of road instead of being driven in a car, which is what essentially is happening. Rolls-Royce wasn’t kidding when it says the Phantom is the quietest car in the world. The way the beeping horns and humdrum sound of downtown traffic is cut so cleanly away suddenly made us realise why the car is named such – it’s quiet as a phantom in the shadows.
Despite its size, the Phantom’s acceleration is brisk, courtesy of a 6.7L engine delivering power of 460PS and torque of 720NM easy. It records numbers the likes of 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds, but we didn’t test that out as we were happy to just waft along with smooth, steady inputs to throttle and steering. Beauty cannot be rushed, after all.
Our main agenda of the night was a dinner in the heart of KL where dinner-time traffic was at its peak and the port cochere drop-off of the luxury boutique hotel we had made our reservations at was little more than a tight drive-through. The Phantom weaved its way through cars and motorcycles as agile as you can imagine a car of its length and width (big kudos goes to our chauffeur) and, when it came to U-turning into the drop off point, boasted a remarkably small turning radius for its wheelbase. Functional powerful beauty, check.
After an evening with it, we daresay the Phantom is quite misunderstood. People know it as this huge car made for royalty and silver-haired chairmen but it’s just as suited for a fancy night out with friends. It’s got everything to make an impression and most definitely will.
Maybe it’s time to rewrite a few rules when it comes to how we perceive luxury. There’s certainly room for it in the Phantom.
To discover the Phantom in more detail, log on to the official website here.
(Video: Felix Khu; Photos: Anson Siau and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)