“Phantoms exist in a completely rarified atmosphere,” regaled Rolls-Royce’s now-ex Director of Global Communications, Richard Carter, to the luxury lifestyle journalists and gurus in the five-star Maybourne Riviera Hotel in Monaco – a fitting backdrop to test the new Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII. But as Hypbeast was soon to find out, really guests weren’t here to “drive” the Phantom, because being behind the wheel misses the point of this car entirely.
Carter continued to describe the experience of a Rolls-Royce as “completely eccentric,” alluding to the limitless nature of personalization, allowing a Phantom to suit the client’s needs and how each car is an extension of oneself. It’s not rare to hear about a car’s “personality,” whether it is “charming” or a “brute,” but only Rolls-Royce would call its car “eccentric.” The same approach is used within, as Rolls-Royce renames the dashboard the “gallery,” coining the term after the glass covering that floats atop any material, finish, color, design, pattern, or effect imaginable.
A Rolls-Royce is a product that all other luxury products are measured by, and only a Phantom can be heralded by its Director of Global Communications as the “world’s greatest luxury product — not luxury car — product.” The Rolls-Royce Phantom is unlike any car in the world. It writes the rulebook on luxury. If you think of the BMW 7 Series as business class, a Mercedes-Maybach as first class, then the Phantom is a private jet.
You are in awe from the minute your eyes catch the Phantom. It is gargantuan and imposing. The “Iconoclastic” spec – which Hypebeast tested – sees a carbon fiber “Spirit of Ecstasy” adorn the darkened chrome nose, serving as a hype-ified beacon of superiority and stateliness. 22-inch disc rims hark back to Rolls-Royces of the 1920s, floating “RR” hub caps make the Phantom appear to float over the tarmac, and the soft growl of a 6.7-liter V12 engine — one so meticulously built it’s smooth enough to balance a penny on — come together in a finely built package. Suicide doors that close with the touch of a button, reclining massage seats, picnic tables with infotainment screens, fold-down light-up vanity mirrors, umbrellas in the doors, blinds, one of the finest sound systems in the world submerged into the chassis, and a chauffeur complete the overall attitude of the Rolls-Royce Phantom. It’s all very sophisticated, albeit while possessing an attitude fit for a 1940s mob boss.
The Phantom is a lifestyle in its own right. Yes, there are certain aspects of life attributed to owning a Phantom — such as being able to fuel one in today’s climate, let alone afford it in the first place — but the Phantom really does come down to how it makes you, the passenger, feel.
No matter where you sit — from the front passenger seat to the cavernous depths of the rear — you are swathed in ample amounts of finery. The best leather can be customized in any color you desire, as can the plush high-pile lambswool carpets. A drinks cabinet folds out, presenting a bottle of champagne and two flutes, while a whisky cabinet, or perhaps a cigar humidor if you’d prefer, is neatly tucked into the central armrest. Put simply, almost every aspect is centered around its owner’s discerning tastes and requirements, serving as an extension of your personality and life.
As a driver, the Phantom is more than capable of being an enjoyable machine. There’s plenty underneath the bonnet to keep your right foot entertained, the steering is surprisingly alert for something that measures almost six meters long and over two meters wide, and the captain’s seat experience is nothing short of luxurious. But this really isn’t the point of a Phantom, or any Rolls-Royce for that matter. When the car is this luxurious, perhaps enjoying driving it would be considered uncouth.
Instead, in the driver’s seat or behind, it’s about taking in the abundance of the Phantom. There’s an aristocratic air to this car, old money and impeccable taste. As Rolls-Royce’s communications team explained to Hypebeast, its customers “don’t want the Phantom to change.” That’s not because they’re stuck in their ways, it’s because you cannot perfect perfection.
So what do you get for a car that wouldn’t give you much change out of $500,000 USD? When you own a Phantom, all the worries in the world are momentarily soothed. Every factor and condition imaginable is mastered to the nth degree, coming together for a completely unique-to-the-customer experience that epitomizes excellence. It’s about comfort, class, style and substance, but above all else, it’s about you. Sit back, relax, and make the Phantom your own, because, as the marque says, “you don’t just purchase a Rolls-Royce, you commission it.”