What's New for 2012
The Phantom is exactly what you'd expect of a Rolls-Royce. It's decadently opulent, wickedly powerful, meticulously engineered and unapologetically grandiose. If you've got the cash, then step right up.
Saying the 2012 Rolls-Royce Phantom is just a car is like calling Saint Peter's Basilica just a church or Bono just a singer. Somehow, those descriptors are inadequate. There are a few other ultra-premium automobiles -- notably those from Bentley and Maybach -- that similarly offer an almost shameful abundance of power and luxury. Yet they lack the aura of a Rolls, an iconic brand that commands admiration from rappers to royalty.
Naturally, any feature one could possibly want in a car is present in a Phantom. The cabin is expectedly trimmed in the finest leather, wood and polished metal trim available, yet there are other, special touches that set the Rolls apart. Even entering the car is an occasion, as the rear doors open from the center. Once seated, passengers may want to remove their shoes so as to enjoy the plush sheepskin carpets. And should Mother Nature rain on this parade, Teflon-coated umbrellas are at the ready, secreted away within the doors.
But wait, there's more. If star gazing is a passion, you may select the optional fiber-optic headliner that creates the illusion of a starry night. Other unique options include cabin privacy curtains, a trunk-mounted wine cooler and a limousine-like cabin partition. And if the massive rear seat room of the standard Phantom is somehow not enough, there is also the Extended Wheelbase (EWB) model that offers an additional 10 inches of rear-seat legroom.
There is plenty of substance underneath all the glamour as well. Thanks to BMW's stewardship, the Phantom possesses performance that mostly belies its substantial size. In essence, the 2012 Rolls-Royce Phantom combines traditional British charm with meticulous German engineering. From an ultra-luxury standpoint, that's pretty much a marriage made in heaven.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 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 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.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive 2012 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 2012 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 2012 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.