Two years after the launch of the Phantom, Rolls-Royce is pleased to announce an extended wheelbase version. An extra 250 mm has been added to the standard length Phantom, behind the B-pillar, to create a motor car with an even more generously proportioned rear passenger compartment. Coach doors open to 80 degrees, offering exceptionally graceful egress and ingress.
An extended-wheelbase motor car was planned in the early days of the Rolls-Royce Phantom project. Indeed, an aluminium space frame chassis was chosen precisely because it lends itself to structural adaptation with relative ease. This ability to create coach-worked models, to meet the individual needs and desires of Rolls-Royce customers, is something that has been central to the marque throughout its 100-year history. The standard Phantom body is already the largest automotive aluminium space frame ever constructed while the new extended wheelbase model adds nearly 10 inches.
The extra length with this new motor car is achieved simply by using longer extrusions in the construction of the body. Conventional extended-wheelbase cars are often built by cutting them and welding in extra metal - not so with Rolls-Royce. As a result of this approach, none of the Phantom’s torsional rigidity is lost, so the outstanding dynamic performance and driving refinement of the standard length motor car are maintained.
Aluminium roof and rear door panels are the only new exterior body parts: the longer Phantom shares all of its other major chassis and drive-train components with the standard motor car. The added weight of this extended model is minimal - just 75 kg more - so there is no need to make any changes to chassis or suspension systems.
Rolls-Royce chief designer Ian Cameron was responsible for the interior and exterior look of the extended Phantom. ’’The challenge was to create a longer, more spacious motor car without compromising the elegant lines of the original. We found that adding 250 mm to the overall length of the Phantom gave an extremely well proportioned exterior form, while adding significantly to the amount of space in the rear passenger compartment.’’ The measure of the design team’s success is that, unless the two Phantoms are viewed alongside each other, it is not easy to tell which is the extended version.
All manner of features can be specified for the Phantom, including fridges, drinks cabinets, cigar humidors, special audio-visual systems and additional seating. The extra space in the extended version also allows for a division wall, for those rear passengers that require increased privacy. Hand-built from the finest materials, the division wall exudes all of the quality expected of a Rolls-Royce interior. The standard panel is finished using matching wood veneers and leather trim in two finishes. As well as turning the rear passenger space into a completely private environment, the division wall can be made to house a variety of additional Bespoke features.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom is not about achieving a single superlative - the biggest, the fastest, and the most powerful. Rather, it is about finding the optimum balance of all these attributes and more. With a Rolls-Royce, superlatives are found in the details. New thinking and attention to detail can be seen in a number of areas of the Phantom - the coach doors designed to make entry and exit as graceful as possible, a retractable Spirit of Ecstasy that hides away at the touch of a button, the Teflon-coated umbrellas housed in the rear doors and the interlinked RR wheel centres, engineered to remain upright at all times.
Authenticity is the key element. Ian Cameron, Chief Designer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, explains: "Our absolute priority was to create a motor car that is clearly a Rolls-Royce even when the radiator grille is not in view. More than this, the new car has to stand apart from all others on the road."
Authentic design elements, such as a long bonnet and wheelbase, short front and long rear overhang, strong C-pillar and discreet rear window, run throughout the Phantom, combining with 21st century engineering integrity to create a car with genuine presence.
Generous interior proportions and the elevated position of the electrically operated front seats give a sense of authority. Rear passengers are seated 18 mm (0.7 in) higher than those in front, allowing an uninterrupted view of the Spirit of Ecstasy. Sat alongside the C-pillar, behind the rear side glass and well behind a conventional saloon arrangement, rear occupants enjoy an unrivalled sense of privacy and security.
The size of the motor car is a balance between design and engineering considerations. For example, the requirement for a prominent seating position and substantial interior space determined the wheelbase, floor height, width and standing height, which in turn determined the axle position and wheel size. As a result, the new car’s wheelbase is 3570 mm (140.6 in) while the overall length is 5834 mm (229.7 in). It is 1632 mm (64.3 in) tall and 1990 mm (78.3 in) wide. The 460 litre/16.2 cu ft (DIN) boot is large enough to take four sets of golf clubs with ease.
The rear interior compartment is unique in every respect. Taking a fundamental step back, the design team started out by asking a simple question: "What is the best way to get into and out of the rear of a motor car?"
The answer was coach doors, hinged at the rear, which allow passengers to enter and exit with decorum. Once they are seated, the door can be closed automatically simply by pressing a small button on the C-post. And because they allow the passengers to sit further back in the body of the car, coach doors also provide improved side impact protection. So much so that the Phantom has no need for rear side airbags.
Each C-post contains a panelled quarter mirror which, from within, appears to be a continuation of the side window, but offers a degree of privacy without having to resort to darkened windows or curtains. And when both front and rear doors are open, they form a protective barrier around a passenger entering or leaving the car.
The coach doors house another surprise feature. Within each rear door is an umbrella which is released at the touch of a button. After use, it can be stored even when wet: special drainage channels are incorporated into the coach door, and the umbrella material is coated with Teflon to ensure that it will not rot.
Inside, the design called for an open, almost flat, rear floor to allow passengers to move easily from one side of the car to the other - to exit the car at the kerb side, for example - and to create an inviting ambience. Maximum rear headroom was also a priority, with a figure of 979 mm (38.5 in) achieved.
The rear seats are available in two different configurations: lounge and theatre. Lounge seats have room for three passengers and are distinctly curved at their outer sides. With no lateral separation, this seating arrangement allows rear passengers to turn easily towards each other on a journey, making it easier to converse and enjoy an intimate environment. The theatre seating concept provides twin individual seats separated by a centre console that can house personal entertainment equipment, a drinks cabinet or other bespoke items.
All the doors and the boot lid have automatic soft closing which ensures they are securely fastened without the need for them to be slammed shut.
The new car has a long wheelbase and long bonnet with the front axle positioned forward of the engine for optimum weight distribution and resulting in a short front overhang. Its upright stance has been created around the traditional radiator grille.
Its roof line falls gently to the rear as the window drops away to accentuate the dramatic proportions which are balanced by the traditional rising sill.
A generous C-post gives a sense of strength and security while the profile is dominated by the Phantom’s huge wheels and tyres. Specially created for Rolls-Royce, the tyre rolling diameter is 790 mm (31 ins) making them the largest fitted to any production car, but by applying the correct proportions they are entirely in keeping with this substantial motor car.
The size of the motor car is a balance between design and engineering requirements. For example, a prominent seating position and the correct interior space determined the wheelbase, floor height, width and standing height, which in turn determined the axle position and wheel size. As a result, the new car’s wheelbase is 3570 mm (140.6 ins) while the overall length is 5834 mm (229.7 ins). It is 1632 mm (64.3 ins) tall and 1990 mm (78.3 ins) wide. The 460 litre/16.2 cu ft (DIN) boot is large enough to take four sets of golf clubs with ease.
From defining the architecture of the car to producing a final design, the process was remarkably short. In May 1999, the Bank studio was augmented by another secret facility, a modelling studio in nearby Holborn, which was given the internal codename ‘Bookshop’.
Here each of the three exterior design teams created two design proposals as 40 per cent scale models – large enough for valid decisions to be made, but small enough to be quickly modified. From those six design themes, three were chosen to be modelled at full scale before, in December 1999, the final design was chosen.
As expected from a Rolls-Royce, the interior features the finest materials found in any car. Two types of leather finishes are used - a natural grain hide for seating and a textured ’tipped’ leather for door panniers and centre consoles. Naturally, it is the softest used in the automobile industry.
Deep-pile carpets are covered with sumptuous lambswool rugs, while metal surfaces have either a high-polish Sterling finish, such as the air vents, ’organ stops’ and lighting consoles, or a satin finish, which is used on the door-handle surrounds and steering column stalks. The headlining is of a wool and cashmere blend, providing a light and airy contrast to the leather surface of the central roof console.
No fewer than six different veneers are available for the woodwork: Figured Mahogany from West Africa, Burr Walnut, Birdseye Maple and Black Tulip from North America, and Oak Burr and Elm Cluster from Europe.
The switchgear displays a modern interpretation of the traditional Rolls-Royce principles of simplicity and clarity. Great care has been taken to balance the need to access a large number of functions without increasing complexity.
As a result, the major controls will be recognisable to long-standing Rolls-Royce owners, with iconic ’organ stops’ still used to control the flow of air to the face-level vents. These have been joined by ’violin keys’, similar in shape to the tuning heads on a violin, for minor switchgear.
A column-mounted, electronically controlled gear selection lever is retained, while a slim, leather-covered, three-spoke steering wheel incorporates controls for the telephone, audio and navigation systems, as well as a button that allows the driver to access a ’low’ mode for the gearbox.
Ahead of the driver is an instrument cluster comprised of three black-faced circular dials. A central speedometer is flanked by a split gauge for fuel level and water temperature, and a unique power reserve gauge which communicates the ’adequacy’ of available power - for example, at 100 mph, the engine has 75 per cent of its total power capability left.
A notable innovation appears in the centre of the dashboard. A veneered panel housing the analogue clock swivels to reveal a monitor for vehicle settings, satellite navigation, on-board television and the telephone system. A controller, discreetly stowed in the centre console when not required, allows the driver to access these various specialist functions.
Starting point for the sophisticated ventilation system was to minimise the intrusive effect of direct forceful airflow, by providing indirect airflow for greater comfort. The circular air conditioning and heating controls are familiar items, controlling the six temperature zone interior with individual fan control for all four quarters of the cabin. Complementing a conventional heated rear window, the front side windows of the Phantom are heated for effective, noiseless demisting.
Light fittings, which can be found in the front and centre roof consoles and in the C-posts, are art-deco inspired; there are two reading lights in the front and twin reading lights for each side in the rear. Ambient interior lighting for night-time driving is provided by LEDs in the roof, while a brighter ’boulevard’ setting allows rear passengers to see each other - or be seen - without distracting the driver.
A Rolls-Royce is often perceived as the perfect chauffeur-driven car, where the primary concern is for the comfort of the rear passengers. But Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has a fundamental understanding of how the Phantom will be used, and the truth is rather different. While there will be occasions when an owner would prefer to enjoy his or her Phantom from the rear compartment, many owners will spend considerable time driving themselves.
Central to the design, therefore, has been the concept of relaxed control. This can be seen in the elevated driving position, the effortless operation of the controls and the refined performance of the engine.
A 6.75-litre V12 built to a Rolls-Royce specification by BMW, the engine offers ample power and huge reserves of torque, combined with exceptional fuel economy: headline figures include the 5.7 seconds that see it sprint from 0-60 mph (0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds) and the 25.7 mpg (11.0 ltr/100 km) it returns over the EU extra urban fuel economy cycle.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the Phantom can cover 44 metres (144 ft) in just 4.0 seconds from a standing start. It’s a figure many sports cars would be hard pressed to match. Top speed has been limited to 149 mph (240 km/h).
Maximum power is 453 bhp (338 kW) with peak torque of 720 Nm (531 lb ft) reached at 3,500 rpm. More significantly, 75 per cent of that torque is available from 1,000 rpm, making the power delivery seem effortless.
This refined engine performance does much to give the Phantom its ’waftability’, a Rolls-Royce trademark that can be traced back to the turn of the last century. In 1907, a writer from the British motoring magazine Autocar described riding in the Rolls-Royce 40/50 hp as ’... the feeling of being wafted through the countryside’. Engineers at Rolls-Royce quickly coined the term ’waftability’ to encapsulate that sensation.
Waftability is achieved in many ways. Effortless acceleration from low engine speeds is one. Near silence of operation is another. A cosseting ride is a given, as is the refinement and comfort of the interior.
But waftability can also be found in the lines of the motor car itself: standing still, the Phantom looks ready to glide off. It’s in the natural operation of the controls and in the minimum demands placed on the driver. The feeling can even be found in the masterly view from the driver’s seat, over the long bonnet and front wings to the Spirit of Ecstasy and beyond.
Ergonomic features include a large-diameter steering wheel combining traditional Rolls-Royce cues with modern technology: in use it has the lightness and tactility of a precision instrument. The thin-rimmed wheel is wrapped in leather with a hidden joint to make it more comfortable to the touch and automatically tilts away when the electronic ignition key is removed to ease entry and exit. The engine is started and stopped via a push button mounted within the ignition panel.
Double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension combine to give the driver stress-free access to the Phantom’s full performance potential without compromising exceptional ride comfort. The rack and pinion steering gives delightful feel through the wheel and the perfectly balanced chassis, with 50/50 weight distribution, ensures precise handling with excellent feedback of road and driving behaviour.
Naturally, for a Rolls-Royce motor car, such performance is matched by extraordinary tranquillity. Even at speed, the V12 engine emits no more than a distant hum. At idle, it is virtually silent. Engineered into the motor car is a dual-note exhaust: at low engine speeds, a valve in the system closes to increase back pressure and reduce the exhaust note to a whisper for understated arrivals and departures.
Combined with the synchronised wheel centres, which ensure that the interlinked RR badges on all four wheels are always in an upright position, the silence makes the Rolls-Royce Phantom appear to be gliding rather than driving away.
Adopting a fundamental rather than an incremental approach to designing a new motor car, the Rolls-Royce Phantom benefits from the application of innovative technology, most notably in its aluminium space frame structure. As well as being far lighter than a steel shell of an equivalent size, it is significantly more rigid, to the benefit of both handling and ride comfort.
Since the space frame is fully structural, the outer panels are simply fastened to the frame itself. Most of these, including the bonnet and rear wings are made from lightweight aluminium, or composite materials; only the boot lid is made of steel to aid weight distribution.
The vehicle package concept brings with it other bonus features and allows the use of coach doors as well as a double floor, providing an area for essential services without intruding into passenger space. In addition, the extra rigidity provides the highest levels of comfort and quietness as well as exceptional passive safety attributes.
Drive is to the rear wheels via a ’shift-by-wire’, six-speed automatic transmission tuned to match the characteristics of the V12 engine. Electronic control means that, in normal use, the Phantom starts off in second gear with early up-shifts and late down-shifts.
However, by engaging the kickdown switch, which is integrated into the throttle pedal assembly, the car will set off in first and the full performance of the engine will be released. Similarly, engaging kickdown on the move allows later up-shifts and more immediate response. The gearbox incorporates a ’low’ mode, suitable for steep mountain descents.
Mounted well ahead of the passenger compartment for optimum sound insulation, the engine itself is one of the most advanced in the world. Remarkably compact, the all-aluminium unit has four valves per cylinder, 48 in all, twin overhead camshafts per cylinder bank, four in all, and a long intake manifold for optimum low-end torque. It features direct fuel injection, fully variable valve lift control and variable valve timing.
Considering the size and performance potential of the Phantom, fuel economy is exceptional: over the EU extra urban cycle the Phantom returns 25.7 mpg (11.0 ltr/100 km) with a combined figure of 17.8 mpg (15.9 ltr/100 km). The fuel tank has a capacity of 22 imperial gallons (100 litres).
The huge wheels and tyres have been specially developed for the Rolls-Royce Phantom: it is the first car in the world to feature the advanced PAX run-flat tyre system from Michelin as standard. The 21-inch aluminium wheel option, shod with Goodyear tyres, illustrates a more sporting side to the Phantom’s character.
Massive brakes - 374 mm (14.7 in) ventilated discs at the front and 370 mm (14.5 in) ventilated discs at the rear - bring peace of mind, as does the fact that the Phantom has passed all current and anticipated crash-test requirements.
Not only does its aluminium space frame bring significant benefits in occupant safety, but the Phantom also features a raft of passive restraint systems, including the Intelligent Safety Integration System (ISIS), which uses a decentralised optical network of sensors to permit intelligent triggering of the airbags. Dual-stage front bags are complemented by door-mounted side airbags in the front and window airbags running the length of the interior.
The long wheelbase and rigid body structure help guarantee superior primary ride comfort, but the Phantom has also been designed to appeal to the demands of the driver as much as the passengers.
A subframe-mounted, all-new front suspension layout is based on the double wishbone principle, and features a tension link and lower control arm with a high mounted wishbone. The wishbone has a real pivot while the tension link and lower control arm have a virtual pivot enabling a small positive scrub radius to minimise steering forces.
The subframe is fabricated from steel tube, diagonally stiffened and rigidly mounted to the body at six points. Rack and pinion steering with speed sensitive variable rate assistance is mounted to the subframe, forward of the axle.
Oriented towards ride comfort and low transmission of noise, the front suspension also ensures neutral handling and stable behaviour under braking. Exemplary straight line running is matched by balanced steering loads while a hydromount in the tension link damps out wheel vibration which could otherwise be felt through the steering wheel.
At the rear, multi-link suspension with an integral control arm fulfils the demands for comfort and stability as well as providing the good anti-lift and anti-dive characteristics expected from a Rolls-Royce.
Also mounted on a subframe – aluminium in this case – the rear suspension controls the wheels via four links and features passive rear steer. The suspension arms are aluminium with the lower cast swing arm sitting parallel to the road where it has an aerodynamic effect in smoothing the flow of air from the back of the car.
The subframe is located by four large bushes, which isolate chassis-borne driveline noise and vibration from the structure, and forms the mount for the rear anti-roll bar, which is attached via roller bearings.
The rear differential is suspended in rubber bushes at its front and rear, the rearmost bush having a variable rate characteristic to provide different vibration responses vertically and horizontally.
Air springs on all four wheels help provide the cosseting ride expected from a Rolls-Royce. Automatic level control provides a constant ride height no matter what the payload, as well as uneven load compensation side to side, levelling the attitude of the car if only one of the rear seats is occupied, for example.
The system also allows the driver to raise the ride height by 1 inch (25 mm) to provide extra clearance for ramps. If the driver forgets to reset the ride height, the system reverts automatically once a speed of 40 mph (60 km/h) is reached.
Continuous control for the electronic dampers gives minimum damping forces when the car is running straight on smooth surfaces, but higher forces are applied over uneven surfaces or when cornering. The system monitors both the way the car is being driven and the road conditions a 100 times a second, then adapts the damping forces automatically. The system’s reactions are so fast that at 60 mph the dampers optimise their settings every 12 inches.
An integral part of the chassis is the adoption of the Michelin developed PAX tyre system – the Phantom is the first car in the world to feature the run flat system as standard.
Special beading ensures the tyre will not come off the rim even if there is a sudden loss of pressure. By incorporating a solid composite band within the tyre, control can be maintained as the tyre never fully collapses.
As well as obvious safety-at-speed considerations, the major benefit of PAX is that the Phantom will never have to be stopped in an exposed or dangerous position if a flat tyre occurs – it can simply be driven home or to another safe place to await a replacement. A spare wheel is not carried.
The run-flat capability is at least 100 miles at 50 mph when the car is fully loaded. Because a loss of air might not otherwise be detected by the driver, the system incorporates a tyre pressure alert on the dashboard.
The wheels and tyres themselves are not only unique to the Phantom but, with a diameter of 790 mm or 31 ins, are also the largest to be found on a current production passenger car. The tyres themselves have a high aspect ratio chosen for the optimum ride comfort.
Massive 374 mm (14.7 ins) ventilated brake discs are fitted at the front with 370 mm (14.5 ins) ventilated discs at the rear. The braking system incorporates two-piston alloy callipers at the front and single-piston callipers at the rear, as well as the latest generation four-channel anti-lock system. An electromechanical parking brake is fitted, which is autom atically applied when the gearbox is moved to Park.
As well as electronic damping control and anti-lock brakes, the Phantom benefits from a raft of modern electronic chassis and stability control systems. The anti-lock brakes are supplemented by emergency brake assistance which ensures maximum braking force is applied immediately in an emergency.
Using sensors measuring engine, road and wheel speeds as well as vehicle yaw, dynamic stability control uses the anti-lock brakes and engine management systems to prevent wheel spin and reduce the possibility of loss of control, while cornering brake control regulates the anti-lock brakes to ensure a chosen course is maintained when braking in a corner.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom has passed all current and anticipated crash test requirements with flying colours. The aluminium space frame gives significant benefits in occupant safety. Front impact loads are progressively absorbed by crumple zones and directed into Y-shaped chassis members and the main understructure. Side impact intrusion is minimised by the double floor, strong side sills and impact beams within each door.
On-board passive restraint systems include three point seat belts on all five seating positions, belt pre-tensioners and belt force limiters on both front and the outer rear seats and active head restraints in the front.
Intelligent Safety Integration System (ISIS) uses a decentralised optical network of sensors to permit intelligent triggering of the airbags. Dual stage front bags are complemented by door mounted side airbags in the front and window airbags running the length of the interior. No side airbags are needed for the rear passengers who sit inside the body structure rather than beside the rear door.
In the event of a collision of sufficient force to deploy a front airbag, the main electrical power supply is disconnected to avoid the risk of an under bonnet fire. As well as the advanced electronic chassis stability and braking controls, active safety features include faster reacting LED brake lights. LEDs also have the benefit of long service-free operation. The bi-xenon headlamps incorporate automatic self-levelling and power wash.
A holistic approach to customer peace of mind, as typified by the PAX tyre system, can also be seen in the power supply, which features two liquid-cooled generators and two separate batteries, one for the main vehicle systems and the second for the starter.
Automatic charge management means that even if the vehicle’s entertainment systems are used over an extended period without the engine being run, there will still be sufficient power left in the starter battery to fire the engine. Once the V12 has been started, the generators will recharge both batteries to their full capacity.
If the vehicle is left in storage for an extended period, a charging socket located behind a side panel in the boot allows simple and secure connection for a maintenance trickle charge.
Transferring communication and entertainment data across the motor car’s systems is down to the use of advanced multimedia network electronics. Called MOST (for Media Oriented Systems Transport) it uses a ring system of optical fibres, transmitting control commands as well as audio, video and graphics signals.
By using optical data transmission a high degree of information – 22.5 Mbits/sec – can be transmitted at one time. MOST integrates information from the instrument panel, controller, telephone, navigation, voice recognition, television and audio systems.