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The Top Gear car review: Rolls-Royce Phantom
On the inside
Layout, finish and space
The dashboard has been ingeniously reconfigured as an art gallery, the structure itself has the implacability of Mount Rushmore or the pyramids of Giza, and of course there’s Eleanor, the Spirit of Ecstasy, pointing the way forward from the prow of the longest bonnet in the business. More than ever, taking the helm of the Phantom is palpably not like driving other cars. It’s like flying without actually getting airborne.
The doors close themselves, and Rolls talks about creating a ‘detoxifying environment’. Everywhere you look there’s some detail magic. The design of the door-rests was inspired by J-class yacht, and the rear seats are slightly angled so you can talk without straining your neck. Push a button in the C-pillar and lushly carpeted Ottomans motor out to meet your feet. The rear occupants get to enjoy what Rolls calls the ‘embrace’.
You don’t sit in this car, you get absorbed into it, and needless to say the options list is a vast and intimidating thing in itself. Every item of switchgear is made of metal. As well as heated seats, there’s heating for the front door armrests, lower C-pillar and rear side armrests.
Nothing as unseemly as a touchscreen is allowed in here, either; the rotary controller remains. Climate control is still done by red and blue-labelled ‘wheels’. It feels wonderful, and serves as a reminder that the tech arms race that’s redefining car ‘connectivity’ often leads the end user up a blind alley.
Many Rolls owners are passionate art collectors, and Rolls has actually managed to turn the Phantom’s dash into a gallery space: an expanse of toughened glass runs the full width of the dashboard. You can put whatever you want in there.