After 14 years Rolls Royce has launched the new Phantom, only the eighth generation of the oldest running nameplate in the automotive universe. We got behind the wheel of the Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII in Switzerland taking in beautiful roads along Lake Lucerne, the heavily speed-regulated Swiss motorways and then up the Swiss Alps over roads made famous in the 1964 Bond classic where James Bond chased Goldfinger‘s Phantom III up to his lair.
Welcome to ‘The Embrace’, as Rolls-Royce now calls the rear quarters of the Phantom. The Rolls-Royce Phantom has always been about library-like silence, about the only thing you can hear being the ticking of the mechanical clock, but even by those standards the hush inside the Phantom VIII is extraordinary. There’s 130 kilos of sound deadening, mundane pursuits like weight saving being reserved for lesser automobiles. There’s 6mm thick double-glazed glass, the thickest on any car in the world. There’s double-skin alloy within the floor and the front bulkhead into which a foam and felt layer is inserted to cut out noise. The roofliner gets 2.5mm of sound deadening foam, as do the doors and boot area. There’s acoustic damping. And to top it all each tyre, 21-inch Continentals (22’s are optional), has two kilos of foam insert to cut down tyre noise by nine decibels.
Unsurprisingly, all the engineers I spoke to were German and the extent they’ve gone to, to isolate occupants, boggles the mind. You hear nothing. You feel nothing. At 100kmph the Phantom VIII is 60 decibels quieter than the Phantom VII. It is three to six decibels quieter than what used to be the quietest car in the world, incidentally another Rolls, the Ghost. Even the air-con vents have a foam insert to cut out the blower noise. Sat in the back of this extended wheelbase example, I stretch out and yet my shoes don’t soil the white leather front seatback – and at five-foot nine inches, I’m not a shorty. I hit the massage function and marvel at the magnificent Starlight roof, hundreds of fibre optic lights twinkling – yes, twinkling! – on the largest such roof to ever be installed in a Rolls. Life’s tough, but somebody has to live it.