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Rolls Royce Phantom

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      18.09.2008 22:18
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      A true Rolls Royce

      The Rolls Royce Phantom is possible the most imposing car I've ever come across - this things road presence is just unbelievable. Drive it, and you will find that other road users (I weirdly started to think of them as 'peasants' while I was driving this car - perhaps it's a good thing that I don't own it!) soon shift to make way for the beast.

      The front is boxy and 100% Rolls Royce - BMW (who now own RR) have done a great job, it doesn't look one bit BMW. However, at the back I'm not so keen. As if to contrast with the rather boxy from, they've created a droopy tail line which doesn't look so good.

      Inside, nestled in the comfortable driving seat, you're not surrounded by buttons. There is a simplified version of BMW's iDrive system, but the screen rather nicely hides behind an analogue cloth when not in use. There is a normal speedo, but instead of an odometer (rev counter) you get a power reserve meter. When I was doing around 80mph on the motorway I still had a rather satisfying 85% of the engine's power left (just incase I needed it).

      On the move, this car is quite difficult to drive. This is mainly because of the bonnet, which is LONG. In the driver's seat the bonnet stretches out in front of you, with that lovely silver figurehead just sitting on the front (by the way, it disappears when you lock the car or press a button in the car to stop thieves from stealing it). It's plenty quick enough (0-60 in 5.5 seconds), and handling is acceptable. Comfort is top notch, with an excellent suspension that just absorbs all of the bumps.

      However, where the car really comes into its own is in the back. To get in, you open the rear hinged (coach) doors, and just climb into luxury. To shut the door you press a button behind the pillar. I didn't try out a LWB version, but the SWB is plenty big enough to stretch your legs. You can either have the option of bench (normal) rear seats or independent seats (like in the front). I tried one with the independent seats, which were very comfortable and supportive. They are, naturally heated and electronically adjustable. There is a nice screen in the rear of the front headrests, and a lovely wodden table. Privacy is also excellent, due to high door lines and a small rear window (although this does not help visibility for the driver!). Overall, the back of the Phantom is easily the best place to be - you just waft around in comfort.

      Of particular mention is the sterio. I don't know who it's by, but I do know that it cost £20,000 and is absolutely top notch. I haven't heard music so clear and crisp.

      Overall, what to make of the Rolls Royce Phantom? Well, yes, it's probably the most comfortable and luxurious road going transport around, but really, I like the fact that, while the cars parts are built all over the world (they're only assembled in Britain), this car just oozes Britishness, and doesn't feel one bit German. That's what makes it a proper Rolls Royce.

      Just as a price guide, the Phantom starts at £250,000. The car I drove came in at a snip over £300,000.

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