Full 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom Review
What's New for 2011
Other than a limited-edition run of 100 specially trimmed cars to celebrate the centennial of Rolls-Royce's "Spirit of Ecstasy" hood ornament, there are no changes for the 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Referring to the 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom as merely a car is like calling the Queen Mary a boat, Notre Dame a church or Bono a singer. Somehow, it's a grossly inadequate term. A Rolls is more than simply supremely luxurious transportation. Sure, a Bentley or a Maybach are similarly powerful and plush. But take a survey on what folks consider the world's nicest luxury car and everyone from rappers to royalty will likely say Rolls-Royce.
Naturally all the pampering and state-of-the-art high-tech features you'd expect in a prestigious automobile are found in the Phantom. But it's the countless special touches that set the Rolls apart. Within the cabin, the surfaces are covered in the finest leather, highly finished wood or lustrous metal. The sheepskin carpets will tempt passengers to take off their shoes just to dig their toes in it, while the reverse-opening rear doors contain Teflon-coated umbrellas.
You want more? There's the optional fiber-optic headliner that creates the illusion of a starry night, not to mention countless customization options that include cabin curtains, custom exterior/interior colors, a trunk-mounted wine cooler and a full cabin partition. Heck, Rolls-Royce would probably be happy to set you up with an onboard butler named Godfrey if you wish.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the "Spirit of Ecstasy," the iconic flying lady ornament on the hood, (which automatically disappears into the grille when the car is locked to prevent kidnapping). To celebrate, Rolls has seen fit to issue a run of 100 specially trimmed Phantoms. A few of the feature highlights include an illuminated solid silver hood ornament, unique colors and badges, polished wheels, metal foil instrument facings and a leather headliner.
There are actually two Phantom sedans. The regular-wheelbase model boasts one of the largest backseats on four wheels, but for those who want more, the Extended Wheelbase (EWB) model offers an additional 10 inches of rear-seat legroom. Sure, you could buy a Porsche Boxster S and an 82-inch TV for what those 10 extra inches will cost you, but you'll certainly be happy you took the plunge when the time inevitably comes to take Shaq out to Mortons.
You might remember Rolls-Royce motor cars of the past, when the company's hallowed name adorned products engineered when Prince Charles was but a wee lad. But thanks to parent company BMW's prudent stewardship, the 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom is a thoroughly modern union of meticulous German engineering and iconic British panache.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom is an ultra-luxury sedan available in regular or extended-wheelbase models that seat five by default. Most expected luxury features come standard, including 21-inch cast-aluminum wheels, an adjustable air suspension, front and rear parking sensors, power-closing rear coach doors, a power-closing trunk lid, soft-close power front doors, a sunroof, multizone climate control, heated front and rear seats, driver memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a leather headliner with wool and cashmere accent panels, and veneered picnic tables built into the rear seatbacks.
Bluetooth, keyless ignition/entry, a navigation system, voice command functionality, Rolls-Royce Assist emergency telematics and a multifunction electronics controller are also standard. The audio system is a 15-speaker Lexicon Logic 7 surround-sound stereo with an in-dash single-CD player, a glovebox-mounted six-CD changer, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio with a lifetime subscription. The Phantom EWB adds 10 inches of rear legroom, full rear climate control, reversible footrests and a rear-seat entertainment system.
If that list seems incomplete, rest assured that Rolls-Royces can be customized to your heart's content. Should the extensive list of standard exterior and interior colors not strike your fancy, Rolls will paint the Phantom and tan its leather any color you see fit -- for an extra fee, of course.
Other optional features include two different wheel designs, visible exhaust tips, an expanded trunk, a front and rear camera system, multi-adjustable power rear captain's chairs, a rear center console, a chilled storage box for the rear seats, a "drinks cabinet," fiber-optic "Starlight Headliner" ceiling illumination, rear curtains and a DVD-changer rear seat entertainment system with dual 12-inch monitors. Additional by-request-only items include customized monogram leather stitching, a trunk-mounted wine cooler or safe, a humidor, a dash-mounted Conway Stewart pen set, a cabin partition for the EWB model, or nearly any other feature you can dream up and fund.
Lastly, there is also the Spirit of Ecstasy Collection, a limited run of 100 Phantoms that celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. To honor that piece of sculpture, these special Phantoms have a choice of unique exterior and interior colors, unique Rolls-Royce badges, an illuminated solid silver hood ornament, polished wheels, metal foil instrument fascias, a leather-lined glove compartment and console box, a leather headliner and a Spirit of Ecstasy desk ornament with a signed letter of authenticity.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom is powered by a 6.7-liter V12 that produces 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the lone transmission. The base Phantom accelerates from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, while the larger EWB is a few tenths slower. EPA fuel economy estimates check in at 11 mpg city/18 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
The 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom safety equipment includes antilock brakes, traction control and stability control, active front head restraints, side airbags for front occupants and full-length side curtain airbags.
Interior Design and Special Features
No matter how nice you think the Phantom's interior is, trust us; it's even nicer. You'd have to transport the largest cattle ranch in Texas to Sequoia National Forest to find this much leather and wood in the same place. Locating a strip of plastic in a Rolls-Royce is a difficult proposition.
For those who will actually drive their Rolls-Royce, the instrument panel design is clean, with classic gauges. The audio and climate controls are also aesthetically pleasing, but the latter are mounted too low on the dash, and some may lament that they are not of the typical automatic variety. More complex functions like the DVD-based navigation system are managed by an interface similar to BMW's iDrive system. Its trademark mouselike controller hides inside the center console when not needed, while the LCD screen disappears behind a classic analog clock.
The rear seat provides plenty of sprawl-out room, especially in the extended-wheelbase model. The prominent C-pillars conceal the Phantom's passengers, while the rear-hinged coach doors provide them with an elegant means of egress. Plus, with umbrellas embedded inside those doors, there's no need to dampen any part of your wardrobe.
The large but spindly three-spoke steering wheel offers light effort but good feedback, allowing this stately sedan to change direction with ease -- at least when traveling at a relaxed pace. Kick things up a bit and it rapidly becomes apparent that the 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom is no sport sedan. That's not a knock on the 5,600-pound Rolls, just a heads-up for those who think anything BMW touches instantly becomes an Ultimate Driving Machine. Think more Ultimate Cruising Machine in this case.
Power from the V12 is prodigious. Pushing the pedal to the floor can be a bit surreal, as you never feel the transmission changing gears and the engine makes little noise as the car leaps forth. The ride is superb, as it avoids being floaty while soaking up potholes and other road imperfections with nothing more than a muted "thump." You could probably drive through a minefield and not disrupt the rear passenger's power nap. There is some wind noise around the A-pillars at highway speeds (the cost for the Rolls' tall roof line), but it is minimal and likely evident only because there is so little engine and road noise.