Rolls-Royce has unveiled its new Phantom, the flagship of the British luxury brand.
In introducing the Phantom VIII on Thursday, Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös called the eighth-generation vehicle an icon, an artwork, "a dominant symbol of wealth and human achievement" — a car fit for "a connoisseur of luxury in the extreme."
Originally launched in 1925, the Phantom is one of the longest-running automobile nameplates in the world and one of the most recognizable.
For its latest iteration, Rolls-Royce kept the car's powerful, beefy look and distinctive grille, but made significant design and technological changes. At a media preview last month in Hollywood, Müller-Ötvös said the company created the Phantom VIII — which starts at about $450,000 — to be "a completely new Phantom … and not a face-lifted seventh-generation."
Among the upgrades: a new 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine; an all-aluminium spaceframe underpinning that is lighter, stiffer and quieter; a slightly higher profile in the front; and a shadow-box-like dashboard that Phantom owners will be able to commission into a work of art (for instance, by displaying porcelain flowers behind the Gorilla Glass).
There's also a feature called "The Embrace." We'll let Rolls-Royce describe it: "As the patron settles in to the car, an assistant or valet steps forward and lightly touches the sensor on the door handle so it whispers closed of its own accord, enveloping the occupant in 'The Embrace.'"
There's no limit on how many Phantom VIIIs will be made, though Rolls-Royce produces few cars annually to remain exclusive. In 2016, it sold just north of 4,000 vehicles, its second-best year ever.
In an interview, Müller-Ötvös said Rolls-Royce's customer base has shifted "dramatically" younger recently, and said the brand is cognizant of the need to appeal to its new clientele.
"The worldwide demographics of ultra-high-net-worth individuals is massively changing," he said. "They are year by year getting younger and younger and younger. We have witnessed that and we have even forecasted that, and if you don't cater for their needs, then your brand might get old-fashioned and might die at a certain point in time."