LONDON — Rolls-Royce is ramping up the personalization options on the redesigned and re-engineered Phantom flagship limousine to allow owners to embed bespoke artwork behind glass in the dashboard.
The newest Phantom, unveiled here Thursday, is the first Rolls-Royce to be built on the UK automaker’s in-house aluminum platform. Roll-Royce previously designed and engineered cars on platforms supplied by owner BMW Group.
The previous-generation Phantom was the first car launched under BMW’s ownership and its success did much to convince skeptics that the German company understood the storied British luxury brand. The car went of out production this year after a 14-year run.
Deliveries of the new Phantom begin early next year. It will be available in standard or extended wheelbase versions and be priced from about $520,000 (400,000 pounds).
“The new Phantom is a powerful statement of design, engineering and bespoke expertise,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW Group board member that oversees Rolls-Royce.
The gallery feature within the dashboard is the most striking element of Rolls-Royce’s desire to increase personalization within its cars and distance it from “mass luxury” brands, it said in a release.
“Rolls-Royce as a brand would not exist if we would not be able to offer bespoke because customers wouldn’t buy the cars,” CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said ahead of the launch of the new Phantom. “Bespoke plays a fundamental role in our luxury business.”
Every Phantom comes with the glassed-off gallery and customers can commission work from their favorite artist, who then liaises with Rolls-Royce to incorporate the work. “If you have a preference for Jeff Koons, we will work with Jeff Koons,” bespoke designer Alex Innes said. Rolls-Royce showed off several examples, including a landscape oil painting by Chinese artist Lian Yangwe.
Giles Taylor, head of design for Rolls-Royce, said a key goal was to “reinterpret the motor cars’ dashboard from being a dead expanse into a riveting focal point.” Customers can also choose one of Rolls-Royce’s own treatments in wood, silk, leather or metal for the space.
The Phantom’s new aluminum spaceframe architecture is 30 percent more rigid than the outgoing BMW platform and was designed “to deliver a Rolls-Royce experience in terms of ride comfort, acoustic comfort, seat comfort, exterior presence and interior space,” the company said. The car has 287 pounds (130.2 kg) of sound insulation and .2362 inches (6mm) of double-layer glazing. As a result, it is 10 percent quieter inside the car at 60 mph (96.6 kph), the company claims.
In the rear of the car, customers can choose individual seats with armrests, individual seats with a center console, a “lounge” seat or a new “sleeping” seat. The console includes a drinks cabinet with whiskey glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and cooling box.
The front console includes the familiar iDrive-style wheel to control functions on the dash screen, which rises from within the glassed-off gallery area when the vehicle is started. There is no touch function available. A 12.3-inch screen in front of the driver replaces traditional dials and delivers information such as navigation instructions.
Mueller-Oetvoes described the car as “the most up-to-date technology-driven Rolls-Royce ever,” offering modern functions such as a Wi-Fi hot spot that were unavailable on the previous Phantom.
Technology also includes four-wheel steering for better low-speed maneuvering and high-speed stability. A system Rolls-Royce calls Flagbearer adds a stereo camera that can read the road ahead to adjust the air suspension to better cope with road bumps.
The engine is an updated version of the 6.75-liter V-12 unit, now with twin turbochargers, to increase power to 563 hp. Rolls-Royce says the standard car will accelerate to 62 mph in 5.3 seconds and reach a limited top speed of 155 mph.
The Phantom’s upright stainless steel grille sits higher than on the previous car but is blended with the bodywork around it. The change gives the car a more modern look, Innes said. The headlights combine laser and LED technology to create a new signature look that surrounds the unit with daytime running lights.
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