The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII has much less using on its shoulders than the earlier technology, so its recipe largely stays the identical. Its V-12 engine is now twin-turbocharged, and the automobile provides extra fashionable facilities. Picture credit score: AUTOMOTIVE NEWS ILLUSTRATION
LONDON — In 2003, Rolls-Royce pinned the way forward for its model on the then-new Phantom VII sedan. The huge car — actually and figuratively — was the primary Rolls designed and constructed below the monetary and technological stewardship of guardian firm BMW, and it firmly planted the once-staid Rolls model within the 21st century.
Quick-forward 14 years to the July debut of its successor, the Phantom VIII, and the mannequin continues to be very a lot a behemoth (287 kilos of sound deadening). It nonetheless sits atop the Rolls/BMW hierarchy, and firm executives nonetheless check with it in reverential phrases comparable to “pinnacle,” “flagship” and “final.”
However over that decade and a half, Rolls-Royce has modified.
The Phantom has eroded virtually to professor emeritus standing throughout the Rolls-Royce lineup. Smaller, extra approachable fashions have surged to the highest of Rolls’ gross sales charts, accounting for roughly 85 % of Rolls’ four,011 world gross sales in 2016, in keeping with the automaker.
These gross sales got here from a trio of fashions, beginning with the Ghost sedan launched in 2010, which was later spun right into a coupe variant known as the Wraith and a convertible dubbed the Daybreak. Efficiency-minded Black Badge variations of all three have been tasked with enhancing the model’s attraction amongst a youthful set of world 1 percenters.
And 2018 will mark the arrival of what Rolls is asking Undertaking Cullinan: a crossover constructed on the Phantom VIII’s aluminum structure.
These broader horizons have had the type of impact at Rolls that each one automakers covet: Its patrons at the moment are youthful. Earlier than the Ghost was launched, the common age of a Rolls purchaser was 56. Right this moment, it is 45, in keeping with the automaker.
These patrons embody the identical captains of trade, heads of state athletes and entertainers who gravitated towards the Rolls of yore. However this contemporary period has pulled in a wider viewers, Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, CEO of Rolls-Royce, instructed Automotive Information.
That is backed up by what sellers see, too, notably the introduction of the Wraith coupe and the Black Badge fashions.
“That has actually, actually gone a good distance in really bringing in a very new purchaser and shedding that stigma of Rolls-Royce being the previous man’s automobile, so to talk,” stated Alan Sheynin, Rolls-Royce gross sales supervisor at Miller Motorcars in Greenwich, Conn..
Relaunching the model within the fashionable period with the Phantom VII in 2003 supplied a halo that might unfold to the lesser subsequent fashions.
“I feel it was sensible to relaunch the model with Phantom to come back from the highest and to not come from someplace in between after which to go as much as the highest,” Mueller-Oetvoes stated. “That by no means works for lots of branding causes.”
With much less using on its shoulders, the Phantom VIII would not change the recipe of its predecessor. It has a 6.75-liter V-12 (now twin-turbocharged the place it was beforehand naturally aspirated), a satellite-linked eight-speed transmission from ZF and a few of the softest leather-based within the trade.
To this, Rolls added extra fashionable facilities (digital screens within the instrument panel, a Wi-Fi sizzling spot and energy doorways that shut on the contact of the valet’s hand), rear-wheel steering, extra trunk house and bespoke choices.
Larger adjustments to the automobile loom, together with a leap into full electrification someday within the subsequent decade, Mueller-Oetvoes stated.
Regardless of the success that the Ghost, Wraith and Daybreak have had in broadening Rolls’ buyer base, there’s a agency flooring to the place Mueller-Oetvoes desires to take the model.
A V-Eight mannequin within the title of upper volumes? By no means.
That may be like asking a Swiss-watch fanatic to just accept a less-intricate motion, he stated.
“That is detrimental for luxurious,” Mueller-Oetvoes stated. “It isn’t what we’d do.”