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Rolls-Royce Phantom sneaks in under $1m

Ghost in the machine: The new Phantom will kick off from less than $1 million, but the 2018 allocation for Australia is all but exhausted.

Increased demand, but supply issues face Rolls-Royce Phantom in Australia

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Rolls-Royce logo28 Sep 2017

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

THE first example of the eighth-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom in Australia has been unveiled locally this week, with the upper-large sedan range now confirmed to start from $950,000 driveaway – or $1.1m for the long-wheelbase version.

Rolls-Royce’s outgoing Phantom was priced at $855,000 driveaway for the standard version and $990,000 for the extended wheelbase variant.

Although a left-hand drive example destined for a tour of Asia-Pacific markets will be shown to customers at a function in Sydney following its media reveal before being exported again, Australian supply of the first Phantom in 14 years has already been all but exhausted for full-year 2018 due to global demand.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia-Pacific regional director Paul Harris declined to talk sales numbers at the national media reveal of the Phantom in Sydney this week, but the model’s popularity was expected to stabilise due to the fact the coupe and ‘drophead’ convertible body styles having not been replaced with this vehicle.

“I think the Phantom will keep its place where it is,” Mr Harris told GoAuto.

“One of the reasons is we’ve got EWB (extended wheelbase) and SWB (short wheelbase) only in this derivative, where the replacement coupe and convertible is taken over by the Wraith and Dawn in the Rolls-Royce stable.

“From that perspective you could see a slight drop-off in the totality, although I don’t think so – it will be offset by people upgrading from the ranges beforehand. Overall we’ll see stable demand for Phantom, or slightly growing. We want to have growth, we want to see growth and that’s what we’re aiming to achieve.”

Mr Harris said interest in the eighth-generation Phantom has so far been evenly split between new and existing buyers of the product, although he stressed that the average age of a Rolls-Royce buyer has fallen by 10 years to 45 in recent years, due partially to the increased wealth of younger buyers.

“We’ve seen a balanced mix of existing clients and new ones,” he continued.

“Some people are upgrading in the range which was always the intention, so it’s a mix. Also (for others) if you look at the nature of wealth the average age of the wealthy is coming down as well, so overnight millionaires is feasible these days.”

The new Phantom is 30 per cent more rigid than the previous model, with the all-aluminium platform – dubbed Architecture of Luxury – continuing to be designed and engineered specifically for Rolls-Royce products.

The BMW Group-owned British brand claims the vehicle is 10 per cent quieter than before, owing to 130kg of sound insulation as well as 6mm-thick two-layer glass glazing and 22-inch tyres specifically designed to reduce tyre noise by 9db.

Laser headlights, which can illuminate 600 metres of the road ahead, now team with a forward-facing stereo camera – dubbed the Flagbearer – that can assess the road surface and adjust the air suspension to suit, with the aim being to deliver a “magic carpet ride”.

The former 6.75-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine has been replaced by a new twin-turbocharged version of the same capacity and cylinder count, which raises outputs from 338kW/720Nm to 420kW/900Nm.

With a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, the new V12 lowers the Phantom’s 0-100km/h time from 5.9 seconds to 5.3s (LWB: 5.4s), and combined-cycle fuel consumption from 14.9 litres per 100 kilometres to 13.9L/100km.

The smaller Phantom measures 5762mm long, 2019mm wide and 1656mm tall, with a 3552mm wheelbase, while the long-wheelbase version takes that latter measurement to 3772mm while extending 5982mm in length and taking kerb weight from 2560kg to 2610kg. Both also have boot volume rated at 548 litres.

The cabin of both Phantoms has been likened to that of a luxury hotel suite, with the highest grade leathers and veneers, electrically opening and closing ‘coach’ doors with improved access, plus a feature called The Gallery – where commissioned artwork can be installed behind the dashboard’s clear glass surface that extends from the 12.3-inch centre screen across the passenger side of the vehicle.

Meanwhile new safety features include an Alertness Assistant, four cameras with panoramic view, night vision, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning.

Mr Harris nominated the enhanced platform, twin-turbocharged V12 engine as well as new cabin technologies as representing the Phantom’s greatest leap forward, along with several tweaks made based around customer feedback.

“For us the platform is a very important step forward for us, because it is for Rolls-Royce, it has only been engineered for Rolls-Royce and is only to be used by Rolls-Royce,” he said.

“And that gives us a lot more flexibility and scope to move things on from, and to develop that in a way that was very close to the ethos of the brand – the ride of the vehicle, for example, it’s all about that magic carpet ride.

“The engine technology is as relevant for a V12 as it could be, it’s very state-of-the-art, it’s very smooth, it’s very quick, it’s more economical than it used to be. All of those things combined, as well as now we have this fantastic inner space to work with, all of those features really enable us to be in a position where this car is a significant step forward from the previous model.”

Asked what specifically customers requested to be improved in a next Phantom generation, the Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific regional director called out entry and egress, lighting and connectivity as three main areas the brand worked on.

“They (buyers) loved what we did before, but there are changes we made at the back of this car that they asked for,” Mr Harris continued.

“They asked for improvement in the way you enter and exit, to give one example, so when you step inside the handle (behind the front seat) is much more enhanced now. Beforehand it never had that, and that was direct feedback from a number of clients we had because more so when you’re sitting in the car it helps get you out of the car.

“They wanted us to improve the lighting so they can read easier inside the car, and relevant technology, so if they’re working on their iPad or a computer device and they wanted connectivity, and they wanted to share something – so if you’re having a business meeting in the back sometimes you want to connect with their side of the screen rather than lean across.”

Rolls-Royce sales in Australia in 2016 improved by 23.3 per cent to 37 units compared with 30 the year prior, while this year – according to VFACTS August results – sales have increased by a further 10.0 per cent to 22 units year-to-date.

2017 Rolls-Royce Phantom driveaway pricing
Standard Wheelbase (a)$950,000
Extended Wheelbase (a)$1,100,000

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