Full 2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom Review
What's New for 2013
The Phantom receives its second minor cosmetic freshening in 10 years, adding new LED headlamps and a smoother-looking front end treatment. Electronics and infotainment systems have been revised, while a new eight-speed transmission helps improve fuel economy.
If there is one word to describe the 2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom, it is superlative. As the flagship of the world's most iconic luxury car brand, the Phantom is, and must be, the most grandiose expression of luxury motoring of our time.
Introduced for 2003 as the first Rolls-Royce automobile developed under the stewardship of parent company BMW, the Phantom is a tall, upright, chrome-drenched carriage that evokes the huge limousines that earned Rolls-Royce its distinction as the epitome of luxury transportation. At the same time, the Phantom appears crisp, tailored, and thoroughly modern.
For 2013, the Phantom receives a mild face-lift, with new quad-element, full-LED headlights above linear LED turn signals, a one-piece Pantheon grille surround and smooth bumper, new wheel finishes and a redesigned rear bumper.
Inside, the Phantom contains all of the spoils imaginable in an automobile, and whether you choose the standard or the extra-roomy extended-wheelbase version, the presentation of luxury is overt and seemingly endless. Butter-soft leather, hand-polished wood and lustrous metal cover everything you might conceivably touch. Stepping into the rear seating area through the rear-hinged "coach" doors is a particularly decadent experience, and once inside, you may want to take your shoes off and run your toes through the deep-pile lambswool carpets.
Despite its formidable size and mass, the Phantom is impressively swift and handles with surprising responsiveness around turns. The slightly smaller and less expensive Bentley Mulsanne feels somewhat sportier from behind the wheel, though not even the sleek Mulsanne can touch the Rolls' sense of occasion. Indeed, the 2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom remains the ultimate expression of luxury motoring, so if the best of the best is what you demand, this is it.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom is an ultra-luxury sedan available in base and extended-wheelbase (EWB) body styles, with seating for five passengers, or four when equipped with the individual rear seat configuration. It is available in one very complete trim level that includes 21-inch cast-aluminum wheels; an electronically adjustable air suspension; front and rear parking sensors; a 360-degree camera system; power-closing rear coach doors; a power-closing trunk lid; soft-close front doors; a sunroof; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated front and rear seats; driver memory functions; a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; a wool or cashmere headliner; and two umbrellas, hidden in the front doors.
Standard electronics include Bluetooth; keyless ignition/entry; a navigation system with an 8.8-inch display, a console-mounted multifunction controller and 3D mapping; voice command functionality; and Rolls-Royce Assist emergency telematics with Concierge Service. Audio is provided by a Harman Kardon Lexicon Logic 7 system with 15 speakers (including two floor-mounted subwoofers); discrete surround-sound capability; a glovebox-mounted six-DVD changer; USB and auxiliary audio inputs; and satellite radio with a lifetime subscription.
The Phantom EWB adds 10 inches of rear legroom, four-zone climate control and reversible footrests.
As one might expect, the options list is vast and includes things more likely to be found in one's home than one's car, including individual rear lounge seats, a rear theatre (an entertainment system with two DVD screens), a rear bar, a cigar humidor, glass cabinets, a refrigerator, mother of pearl inlays and a "Starlight" roofliner with embedded pin lights emulating nighttime stars. The paint and trim combinations are endless, since, like many top-tier carmakers, Rolls-Royce will mix paint and dye leather to match any color sample a customer brings into the dealership.
One notable new option is the Dynamic package, which adds stiffer antiroll bars (to sharpen up the big sedan's handling); sportier suspension, transmission and brake calibrations; a thicker-rimmed steering wheel and visible exhaust tips.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom is powered by a 6.7-liter V12 that produces 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Rolls-Royce claims that the standard Phantom accelerates from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, while the larger EWB is a tenth slower. All Phantoms are rear-wheel drive.
The EPA rates the Phantom's fuel economy at 11 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined, which reflects a 1 mile-per-gallon improvement in highway mileage from 2012.
The 2013 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. In addition, front and rear parking sensors are standard, as is a camera system that shows rear, side and overhead views to assist you in parking this very large sedan.
Interior Design and Special Features
With its bolt-upright dashboard, clocklike instruments, thin-rimmed steering wheel and throne-like seats, the interior of the Phantom is decidedly formal, though certain color and wood treatments liven the space up considerably, and the hand-craftsmanship lends a palpable sense of warmth. The Phantom is full of beautiful details, too, including up to 43 pieces of multilayer wood veneers cut from the same log to ensure uniformity. Every square foot of leather inside the Phantom come from cows raised in meadows free of thorns and barbed wire, reducing natural markings on the hides.
Located behind a panel containing the Phantom's center-mounted clock is a new 8.8-inch information screen that enhances usability of the car's many controls, including a split-screen interface that lets the driver control things like the radio while displaying the navigation map as well. Eight memory keys below the screen provide bookmarks for radio presets and one-touch recall for your favorite navigation destinations. The entire setup is very similar to the iDrive interface in BMW models (right down to the iDrive-style multifunction controller on the Phantom's console), and generally speaking, it works well, though if you're the driver, you'll want to take some time to familiarize yourself with its menus before you hit the road.
While that's all very nice, the Phantom's rear seating area is where you really want to be. The wide rear bench seats three in comfort, or two in even more comfort when the individual rear seats are ordered. With the rear seats set back deep into the car's body, it can get a little dark, especially with the available curtains drawn, but we expect that is exactly how many Phantom owners like it. Perhaps the best thing about the Phantom's rear quarters is getting in and out through its rear-hinged doors, which have integrated umbrellas in the event that your act of egress occurs during a downpour.
The 2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom is no sports car, but for a vehicle that is larger and heavier than many full-size cargo vans, its performance has proven to be nothing short of astounding. We haven't sampled the Phantom with the new Dynamic package, but we've been impressed by the super sedan's handling in previous tests. The steering is light and communicative, and the Roller remains remarkably composed and stable as it goes around turns. Although the engineers have done much to mask the Phantom's incredible mass, drivers should respect the fact that it weighs nearly 3 tons and can only be pushed so hard before the laws of physics apply.
The V12's thrust, however, is almost unbelievable at even the lightest touch of the gas pedal. And it is all but silent in operation, making full-throttle acceleration a somewhat eerie experience from the driver's lofty perch. The ride quality remains supple, per the car's primary mission to provide tranquil transportation for the most privileged of VIPs.