Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has returned to Auto China in 2012 with a world debut. The new Phantom Extended Wheelbase takes centre stage in the company’s largest market, where the majority of Phantom buyers commission this ultimate expression of a Rolls-Royce. The launch in Beijing follows last year’s global debut for Ghost Extended Wheelbase in Shanghai.
Phantom Extended Wheelbase completes the Phantom Series II family, following the debuts of Phantom Saloon, Phantom Coupé and Phantom Drophead Coupé at the Geneva motor show in March. The launch also comes as Rolls-Royce Motor Cars continues to grow in China, having opened three new showrooms this year, with five more to come in the near future.
“I am proud to present our new benchmark of automotive luxury in China,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “No other luxury product comes close to Phantom Extended Wheelbase in staging an object of exquisite beauty, effortless opulence and grand theatre. I am delighted that our discerning Chinese clients continue to value Phantom Extended Wheelbase so highly. And with the changes for Series II I am confident that it will continue to retain its position at the very pinnacle of the ultra-luxury goods marketplace for many years to come.”
Phantom Series II evolves the iconic Rolls-Royce Phantom which was launched on 1 January 2003 at the company’s new home and headquarters in Goodwood, England. And like other Phantom Series II models, Phantom Extended Wheelbase features significant improvements in design, drive-train and technology.
Encapsulating the changes that lie beneath is a striking new front-end design, complete with re-styled bumpers and rectangular light apertures. Fully-LED headlamps as standard deliver a characteristic whiter light, and encompass technologies that automatically change the shape and direction of light beams according to road orientation and in response to different driving conditions.
New driver assistance technologies ensure that Phantom Extended Wheelbase retains its reputation for effortlessness. A modern user interface with re-designed multi-media controller, for example, controls a new satellite navigation system with functions that include 3D maps with landscape topography, guided tours and composite route planning.
Information, maps and video content are presented on a larger 8.8 inch control centre display, a feature underlined by eight programmable bookmarks presenting access to key functions at a driver’s fingertips. Front, rear and top-view camera systems further augment ease of manoeuvring. When reverse parking, for example, rear path prediction automatically deploys on the screen.
The word waftability has always been part of the Rolls-Royce lexicon, with models past and present being renowned for their magnificent ride experience. Phantom Extended Wheelbase reinforces the company’s reputation for both.
A new 8-speed automatic gearbox and rear differential enhance already exemplary driving dynamics, perfectly complementing the V12 direct injection engine. Fuel consumption improves by 10 per cent on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions for the Extended Wheelbase fall from 388 to 349 g/km as a consequence.
It takes 60 pairs of hands and more than 450 hours to design, construct and craft every Rolls-Royce Phantom. At the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood there are around 1,000 employees, including craftspeople working in wood and leather shops, making the world’s finest cars. And just two robots in the paint shop to provide a seamless quality of finish. Only the finest materials are used and these are painstakingly prepared so their inherent beauty is displayed to best effect.
Rolls-Royce proudly continues the grand tradition started centuries ago by the coach-building industry: at least five layers of paint and clear lacquer coating are applied to each Phantom, seven if the car is two-tone. Between each layer technicians sand the body by hand. Following application of a final coat, the body is meticulously hand polished for five hours to achieve the glassy lustre normally associated with a grand piano.
Any chosen paint colour can be specified. Initially, this could be chosen by the client through the Phantom iPad App, capturing the colour of a favourite tie or lipstick for example and applying it to their virtual car.
In keeping with Rolls-Royce traditions single or double coach-lines can also be applied, by hand of course. Each five metre line takes three hours to apply using only the finest squirrel and ox hair brushes.
Wooden features blend the skills of cabinet makers and boat builders with modern technology. Depending on the specification, up to 43 wooden parts are used in every Phantom, each constructed from up to 28 layers of wood. These are interspersed with thin sheets of aluminium for strength and to prevent splintering in an impact. Multiple layers are pressed, bent and hand-finished before craftsmen cut and apply matched veneers, which are subsequently detailed, lacquered and hand polished.
All veneers come from one log and these are carefully selected and laid out so that the grain detailing is mirrored across the interior of each car.
Only the finest hand-selected hides from Alpine bulls are chosen for Rolls-Royce. The healthy environment and open meadows without thorn or barbed wire result in far fewer natural marks. The leather is drum pigmented to allow the durable Rolls-Royce leather to retain its famous soft and supple feel, giving a rich, uniform colour while maintaining the natural feel, softness and grain. Each of the 450 leather parts that comprise an interior is cut by laser before being hand sewn by the artisans in the company’s own workshop.
Rolls-Royce customers expect their cars to be as unique as their own fingerprint and the Bespoke service delivers on these high expectations. More than eight in ten Rolls-Royce Phantom models delivered globally to clients in 2011 included some element of bespoke design from individual paint colours, veneer inlays, tread plates and coach lines, to the most flamboyant and individual of whole vehicle designs.
One of the most popular Rolls-Royce bespoke features specified by Phantom Extended Wheelbase clients is the starlight headliner. This integrates more than 1,600 tiny fibre optic lights, which are hand-woven into the leather roof lining to create a beautiful starry sky.