Just a month ago, Rolls-Royce announced that it was testing an all-new aluminum architecture that would eventually underpin every Rolls-Royce model starting with the 2018 model year. The new architecture is built around an aluminum space-frame and according to Rolls, it “perfectly delivers the brands magic-carpet ride trademark.” At the time, Rolls also announced that it would soon begin testing mules underpinned by the new architecture, and it looks like we are getting a glimpse of one of the first mules – the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Considering the company claims the new underpinnings is resilient to extreme weather conditions, it’s no surprise that our photographers caught the new Phantom testing in the snow. As you can see, the Phantom is under heavy camo, that is to be expected since the new Phantom is at least a year away from hit showrooms.
We know that the new space-frame should make the Phantom significantly lighter but, at first glance, it doesn’t look like we’ll see too many exterior changes on the outside. Of course, it is still pretty early to be speculating, but let’s take a look at the pictures and see what is going on with this camouflaged mule.
Updated 11/04/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Rolls Royce Phantom out for a new testing session and, when compared to the previous prototypes, this one lost all of those fake panels under the foil.
Looking at the front end of the mule, it’s easy to tell that the car isn’t ready for production yet. It looks to be missing the driving lights that sit below the headlights, and the fascia is clearly a decoy as it has extremely flat styling. The air dam and corner vents are also missing any detail. It does look like the front end might be a little taller, which would allow the hood to have less of a downward slant. Then again, that could just be the camo playing eye tricks on us.
To the sides, we see good old traditional Phantom styling. The doors, body lines, mirrors, and even the glass all look to the same as the current Phantom. The story is the same as we move to the rear. The rear deck lid aligns with the crease between the rear glass and the body – giving a hatchback like appearance. The exhaust outlets aren’t visible at this time, and the rear fascia also looks pretty flat compared to the current model. The most noticeable thing at the rear is the taillight assemblies. These are either new units or decoys, as the taillights on the current model don’t resemble what we’re looking at here.
Not that the rather bland features we see on this embryonic test mule can’t change as the car moves closer to production. Using an old body on a new architecture isn’t unheard of during early testing phases, so as time goes on, we may see some significant changes. I wouldn’t hold my breath at this point, but let that bounce around in the back of your mind until we see something a little more production ready.
Although our paparazzi managed to snag a few shots of the interior, there’s not much to talk about as the center stack, console, and door panels are hidden under black cloth. Also, considering the car is still so far away from being ready for production, it’s safe to say the cabin will receive numerous modifications over the next month.
From what we can gather right now, the interior will be an evolution of the current design, so don’t expect anything too radical as far as styling goes. The most important updates should come in the technology department and include a next-generation infotainment system, bigger screen, LED ambient lighting and maybe even gesture control. The latter is already available on the latest BMW 7 Series and it’s safe to assume that Rolls-Royce will offer it as well.
The limousine also appears to feature an all-digital instrument cluster. While this may upset fans of classic dials, but Rolls-Royce Rolls-Royce needs to step into the 21st century. Knowing the brand, clocks won’t disappear completely from Phantom and customers will probably be able to order one as an option for the center stack. The instrument cluster will also include a big LCD screen that will provide the driver with all the information he needs.
Rolls-Royce has yet to mention anything about the drivetrain that will power the next Phantom. It’s safe to say that Rolls-Royce will go with a V-12 powerhouse, but outside of that, your guess is as good as any. The current Phantom is currently powered by a 6.7-liter (6,449 cc) that produces 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque. I hope to see a power update that brings the Phantom closer to 550 horsepower and 600 pound-feet.
Even if Rolls carries over the same V-12 untouched, don’t forget about that weight-saving space-frame. Currently, the Phantom tips the scale at 6,856 pounds. The new architecture should shave quite a few pounds off and should improve on the Phantoms 5.7-second sprint to 60 mph. Top speed will still be governed at 150 mph, but it should get there a bit faster after shedding a few pounds. We’ll update you as more information comes to light.
The current Rolls-Royce Phantom starts out at $417, 825. It’s too early to really speculate on what the next generation will go for, but I’m willing to bet that there will be a mild price increase. Given the new architecture and the potential for new technology, I could see the starting price increase to as much as $425,000.
The Mulsanne was created as a replacement for the Bentley Arnage in 2010, was updated in 2013, and is set to receive a redesign for the 2017 model year – just before we’ll see the new Phantom debut. Currently, the pumps out 505 horsepower and 780 pound-feet of torque from its 6.75-liter V-8. The coming update has us expecting to see a bump in power, though, probably into the 520 horsepower and 780 pound-feet range. That mild update in the power department should have the Mulsanne hitting the 60 mph benchmark in around 5.2 seconds. Right now you can get a Bentley Mulsanne by shelling out $290,000, but when the updated model hits the showrooms, expect to pay closer to $300,000.
After looking at these new spy shots, I have to say that I’m not all that impressed. Rolls is putting in effort to conceal both fascias, so that tells us there is going to be some kind of styling update there. Fascias aside, I think we may see an evolution of the rear taillights, but sadly, I don’t think the rest of the body is going to change much. Hopefully, the cabin will get some updated technology, but until we see official information from Rolls, we’ll just have to hope for the best. At this point, the one thing I’m excited about is the new architecture. I really look forward to seeing what this baby can do after shedding a few pounds. It really can make all the difference.
Updated 07/05/2016: Rolls Royce dropped the first teaser image for the eighth generation Phantom which is set to be unveiled sometime in 2018. While it offers pretty much nothing on the future design language, the new image offers us a first look at the company’s all-new aluminum architecture, that will be used for both the new Phantom, but also for a series of future Rolls-Royce models.
Updated 06/06/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Rolls Royce Phantom out for a new testing session, and for the first time they managed to also take come shots of the interior.
Rolls Royce Phantom is in its seventh generation right now. The car went into production as the replacement model for the Silver Ghost in 1925, and it featured push-rod overhead valves. The four-door sedan underwent many name changes before Phantom II came in 1929. Initially, the car was christened as New Phantom, which later changed to Phantom I.
The Phantom II came as its replacement and carried the same engine as the previous model, but with an all-new chassis. Rolls-Royce also made a special version called the Continental, which featured shorter wheelbase and stiffer suspension. The U.S. market received Phantom II models made in Derby, as the Massachusetts factory was closed down after the Phantom I was discontinued. Rolls-Royce only made the chassis, engine and mechanical parts of the vehicle, while everything else was provided by coachbuilder of owner’s choice.
In 1936, Rolls-Royce launched the Phantom III replacing the previous model and this became the sole V-12 Rolls-Royce until 1998 when Silver Seraph was introduced. A total of just 727 V-12 Phantom III chassis were built between 1936 and 1939. The Phantom III went out of production after 1939.
Rolls-Royce again launched the Phantom brand with Phantom IV in 1950. This model became the rarest Rolls-Royce ever built with only 18 models ever produced. Rolls-Royce reserved the Phantom brand for royalty and heads of the state and powered the car with a 5.7-liter, inline-eight-cylinder powerplant. This model also got the bodywork from individual coachbuilders and emblem of Spirit of Ecstasy was put on the bonnets for the first time ever on a Phantom model. The last model was built in 1956.
In 1959, the Rolls-Royce Phantom V came out. The super-luxurious four-door saloon was based on the Silver Cloud II and carried the same V-8 engine of 6,230cc displacement along with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The exclusive car was owned by many high profile personalities including Queen Elizabeth and her daughter Queen Elizabeth II.
The Phantom VI came out in 1968 based on the Phantom V with new engine which was also powering Silver Shadow. The 4-door luxury car usually came in limousine form largely made by Mulliner Park Ward. Frua based in Italy made at least two convertibles, one with two doors and the other one with four. There were two engine options both in V-8 configuration in 6.2-liter and 6.75-liter. The production stopped in 1990 after total of 374 units.
The Phantom flagship was reintroduced in 2003 and continues to be available in the market. This the first model introduced after BMW BMW took-over the brand. The car is assembled in Rolls-Royce plant in Goodwood. The current Phantom is available in 2-door drophead convertible and 2-door coupe style along with 4-door saloon. A V-12 6.75-liter engine powers the car with maximum power of 453 horse