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Test drive: The Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII

LUCERNE: Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII was this month driven by world media, including Arab News, in one of the most scenic regions in Europe in the Swiss Alps and around Lake Lucerne in Switzerland.
Since its debut in 1925, the Phantom has been the ultimate expression of luxury in the motor industry and the eighth generation scales new heights of beauty and power. The experience of driving and being chauffeured in a Phantom is memorable — especially as the world had to wait 14 years for this eighth generation to emerge.
The new Phantom VIII will arrive in world markets at the beginning of 2018 and some orders will shortly be on their way to the Gulf region.
Prices start at SR1.95 million ($520,000).
The new Phantom is the most advanced Rolls-Royce ever. With a new, almost silent, 6.75 liter twin-turbo V12 engine, the Phantom is an oasis of calm. It has a new aluminum architecture and air-suspension that gives it a Magic Carpet ride.
One unique feature of the new Phantom is “The Gallery” — an unprecedented concept which allows patrons to commission a work of art to be displayed inside the car’s glass covered dashboard.
A few weeks before the media launch, Rolls-Royce unveiled the new Phantom in London with examples from the seven predecessors — all owned by historical personalities. These included models owned by Queen Elizabeth II, Fred Astaire, John Lennon, the Aga Khan and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
The new aluminum frame, dubbed “architecture of luxury” by the company, is 30 percent more rigid than that of the previous generation. This frame delivers more ride comfort, acoustic calm, seat luxury and interior sense of space.

Silence and comfort
Some extraordinary effort went into making the new Phantom “the most silent motor car in the world.” Two-layer 6mm glass was used all around the car; more than 130 kilos of sound insulation and sound-absorbing materials were included; double-skin alloys were also added to the floor and bulkhead of the space frame; and “silent seal” tires with foam layers isolate road noise and allow for quiet conversation within the car.
A further comfort feature is the “Magic Carpet Ride.” Suspension makes millions of calculations every second as it continuously varies the electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system — reacting to body and wheel acceleration, steering inputs and camera information. In addition, the stereo camera system integrated in the windscreen to see the road ahead, adjusts suspension proactively rather than reactively up to 100 kilometers per hour. At this high speed, Phantom is 10 percent quieter than its predecessor.
The V12 direct-injection engine provides 563bhp of power and 900Nm of torque at a low 1700rpm. The new Phantom can reach 100kph speed in 5.4 seconds and its top speed is electronically limited to 155mph. In a combined cycle the Phantom achieves 29.1mpg and its CO2 emissions are 319 g/km.
As the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce, the new Phantom carries such features as active cruise control, night vision assist, collision warning, pedestrian warning, cross-traffic warning, lane departure warning and a high-resolution head-up display. It also has the latest navigation and entertainment systems and a WiFi hotspot.
According to Giles Taylor, director of design at Rolls-Royce, “Phantom is the epitome of effortless style.” Taylor integrated the new Phantom’s grille into the surrounding bodywork, resulting in a cleaner flow of the iconic exterior design. A new headlamp design uses the most advanced laser technology that casts light well over 600 meters down the road.

The driving experience
The only choice in a Phantom is to drive or be driven. Entering the car is an occasion in itself. After settling into a back seat, you can close the door with one button automatically. The occupant finds himself cocooned in the finest materials and transported into a serene environment. Only a few people would be lucky enough to sit in the back of a Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII.
Rarer still are those luckier to have a chance to drive the car. Even in the most affluent part of Switzerland, the Phantom turns heads in the streets like no other. Although, Phantom VIII can outperform most cars on the road, it is most appreciated at low speeds. Owners of Phantoms do not rush to catch up with anyone; rather, others wait for them to arrive.
Phantom drivers have command of the road and respect of other car drivers. When Phantom stops for a pedestrian to cross the road or waits for a car to pass, the appreciation turns to gratitude and admiring looks (for the Phantom, not its driver).
Driving a Phantom is a unique experience in any location; an experience for the lucky few who can express their status through their cars and their tastes in selecting the artwork to place in their dashboard “galleries”. Owners will have to wait a few more weeks for that experience.

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