from the moment sir henry royce introduced the rolls-royce ‘phantom’ in 1925 it was judged ‘the best car in the world’ by the cognoscenti. as a result it has conveyed some of the world’s most influential and powerful figures to some of the most defining historical moments over the last 92 years. as the next chapter in the rolls-royce story opens, the ‘phantom VIII’ points the way forward for the global luxury automobile industry.
all images © rolls-royce
the phantom ‘VIII’ features an all-aluminum spaceframe designed by engineers that will underpin every rolls-royce. it has been designed and engineered from the ground up in such a way as to be scalable to the size and weight requirements of different future models, including those with different propulsion, traction and control systems. approximately 30 per cent more rigid than the spaceframe architecture on its predecessor, this new architecture is at the heart of how the automaker’s next generation of automobiles deliver an exceptional experience in terms of ride comfort, acoustic comfort, seat comfort, exterior presence and interior space.
rolls-royce’s ‘magic carpet ride’ also improves as a result of this architecture, and the latest generation of self-levelling air suspension. the 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 manufacturer adds a stereo camera system integrated in the windscreen to see the road ahead, adjusting suspension proactively rather than reactively up to 100 km/h.
the electronic architecture of the new phantom is the largest ever component produced by the BMW group, helping to make phantom ‘VIII’ the most technologically advanced rolls-royce to this date. this central nervous system includes: a four-camera system with panoramic view, an alertness assistant, all-round visibility including helicopter view, night vision and vision assist, active cruise control, collision warning, pedestrian warning, cross-traffic warning, lane departure and lane change warning, a huge 7×3 high-resolution head-up display, a wifi hotspot, and the latest navigation and entertainment systems.
its opening gesture immediately demonstrates a radical contemporisation of the ‘phantom’, through the reimagining of the pantheon grille at the heart of the design. however, unlike all previous models, the ‘VIII’s’ grille is for the first time integrated into the surrounding bodywork. the resulting effect is a cleaner, reduced design with modernity and clarity, allowing all new phantom’s lines to connect with this iconic statement of power and flow from it.
a lot happens at the back of new phantom with its rear glass, defined by an impeccably crafted stainless steel frame, is more raked and the rear lines are sleeker, whilst a subtle scallop on the rear roof line that hovers above the rear occupant’s assures one of preserved head room. the eye is also drawn to by a neat tapered tail, which is constructed of super formed aluminum to ensure more join-free surfaces and flowing bumper lines around the rear light graphic. subtle creases in the bootlid that hark back to the more pronounced boots of earlier models flow on to a pronounced boot lid finisher. again in stainless steel this feature echoes the front grille whilst allowing the airflow to gracefully depart from the rear of the car. even the jewel-like rear light cluster is furnished in exquisite detail with the famous double-R badges etched in.
at the heart of the ‘phantom VIII’s modern design aesthetic is ‘the gallery’, a wholly contemporary and luxury reinterpretation of a motor car’s dashboard and instrument panel area. while the character of the monolithic, upright dashboard pays homage to rolls-royce models of the past, with one clean, symmetrical surface, the main fascia veneer takes the eye from the lower centre up and outwards to create a sense of width. all of the interior elements are enclosed in an uninterrupted swathe of toughened glass that runs the full width of the dash area. within it, the instrument digital dials are framed with chrome, adding a degree of jewellery and continuity throughout the front of the interior.
behind the physical chrome surrounds of the instrument dials, rolls-royce has embraced a more futuristic approach to clearer instruments for the driver. 12.3 inch TFT color displays with LED backlighting now communicate all driver information from within the round chrome surrounds, with the displays themselves designed with clear and beautiful virtual needles, jewellery-like chaplets and clear lettering.
in addition to speed, power reserve, fuel and temperature levels, the displays also react to provide essential information on cruise control settings, navigation instructions, driver assistance systems and a whole host of other information. also behind the glass of ‘the gallery’ is a bespoke analogue clock – a nod the fact that it is ‘the loudest sound you can hear in a rolls-royce’ and the central information screen which can be retracted behind the centre stack when not in use. the standard clock features a dark face and the surround is finished in black leather. however, each clock features a more intricate design, including a lighter backlit face with crystal effect details and counterweighted hands, and is finished to match the material selected within the interior.
martin hislop I designboom
jul 31, 2017