In the world of luxury cars, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is a mic drop. The flagship Roller is simply the world’s most luxurious automobile. Period. The end. Nothing else even comes close. We know this because we just drove (and were driven in) the newly updated 2023 Phantom Series II along the French Riviera. This sedan costs more than half-a-million dollars, and honestly, lounging in the back seat sipping chilled champagne from crystal flutes that fit snugly into their own perfect cupholders while the Mediterranean rolls past out the window, it really might be worth it.
Here are five incredible features that make the Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II the undisputed king of luxury cars.
We first meet the new 2023 Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II on the hills above Monaco, but even here, in the superyacht capital of the world where Rollers, Bentleys and Maybachs are a dime a dozen, the mighty Phantom Series II turns heads. It dwarfs other automobiles. Photos don’t do it justice; in person it’s much taller and longer than you imagine. Consider that the stretched Phantom Extended is longer even than Cadillac’s three-row Escalade. That SUV can haul eight people and their gear, but the six-metre long Rolls is built to carry only four or five people – plus a full set of Louis Vuitton travel cases. With its imposing chrome grille that looks like the Pantheon and oversized proportions, Rolls-Royce’s flagship sedan has more presence than anything else on the road. Actually, it looks like it belongs in a motorcade, not mixing with plebeian traffic.
The Picnic Set
After a brief drive into the French Alps, we stop in a little town for lunch. There, Rolls-Royce’s people open the Phantom’s trunk to reveal a hand-made picnic hamper. “Taking over 500 hours to create, the hamper is forged from a combination of saddle leather, oiled teak and polished aluminum,” the company boasts. When you open it, the little doors feel as solid as a bank vault’s. Inside are Wedgwood porcelain plates, crystal glasses and decanters, and a 12-piece stainless steel cutlery set made in England. (Trust us, this is better than your YETI cooler.) It locks securely into the trunk, but it’s so heavy – nearly 20 kilograms – you may want your butler to lift it out.
Later in the day, with Rolls-Royce’s chauffeur driving us through rush hour traffic in Nice, the Phantom’s rear lounge becomes an oasis of calm. It’s more relaxing than being at the spa, and quieter too. The outside world drifts past out the window, but it’s like someone put everything on mute. The car’s enormous 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 offers jet-engine like shove but doesn’t make a peep in normal cruising. You expect a soft luxury car like this to roll in corners, heaving over like a yacht in high seas, but it doesn’t; the body stays fairly level and hardly even dives under braking. Despite the fact the car rolls on 22-inch wheels, occupants get to float down the road unperturbed by bumps and ruts, thanks to an ingenious suspension system that uses GPS and forward-facing sensors to “read” the road and set the car up accordingly. Other luxury sedans are plush of course, but the Phantom Series II is in another league.
Where every other car has a dashboard, the Phantom has an art gallery. A strip of glass runs the width of the car, behind which Rolls-Royce will put whatever you want. “Patrons are invited to commission artworks for their own personal Gallery within Phantom, in essence, bringing art, within art,” said Torsten Müller Ötvös, chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. One customer commissioned an original painting by South African artist Esther Mahlangu for the Gallery. Another customer asked Rolls to find a particularly perfect piece of rare Koa wood to use on the dashboard. And Rolls-Royce itself has commissioned original works by artists including Helen Amy Murray, the U.K. label Based Upon, and Thorsten Franck, who creates a custom 3D printed stainless steel representation of each client’s DNA. The piece is polished for 24 hours and covered in 24-karat gold before being placed into the Gallery.
If you have to ask, prices in Canada start at $560,500 for the Phantom Series II, or $654,900 if you simply must have the added space and inimitable presence of the stretched Phantom Extended Series II. Of course, nobody pays sticker for a Phantom. Dipping into the extensive options list will cost you the price of a new BMW or two, and if you want custom fabrics, paint colours and trims Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke division will happily oblige, for a fee. Most customers spend around $750,000 on their Phantoms, a spokesperson for the company said, and in some cases the final price can climb up over $1 million. But, if you simply must travel in the lap of luxury and make a grand entrance, there’s nothing better than the Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II. It is, without doubt, the best luxury car ever made.