For those with ex­pen­sive taste

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

The Go

Rolls-Royce builds ar­guably the most ex­clu­sive cars money can buy; with no Con­ti­nen­tal GT equiv­a­lent, it sells fewer than half the cars Bent­ley de­liv­ers. The de­signs are im­pos­ing, the Phan­tom es­pe­cially ooz­ing money, power and sub­stance in ev­ery larger-than-life line. There’s a 6.75-litre V12 engine be­neath the bon­net trans­mit­ting 378kW via an eight-speed ZF trans­mis­sion, and 720Nm of torque, 75 per cent is avail­able from 1000rpm with a me­ter on the dash telling you how much you’re us­ing; just 10 per cent at high­way cruis­ing speeds. The car spe­cialises in ef­fort­less progress. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is im­pres­sive yet you barely feel it within the car, ride is hov­er­craft smooth and al­most silent, and the long wheel­base ver­sion I drove was re­mark­ably easy to pi­lot even through the nar­row lanes we tra­versed, the huge hoop of the tiller – sorry, steer­ing wheel – swing­ing al­most three tons and six me­tres of car smoothly round bends, the pa­tri­cian wings keep­ing you ap­praised of where the car’s ex­trem­i­ties are, a long way up front. Cor­ner carv­ing? That’s not what the Phan­tom is about – though the smaller, grun­tier (and at $565,000 cheaper) Ghost will do its best to as­sist. That car’s 6.6-litre V12 engine fields 420kW and 780Nm to pro­pel it from zero to 100 in 4.9 sec­onds, 1.2 less than the Phan­tom.


A Rolls-Royce is all about show, from the Spirit of Ec­stasy atop that im­pos­ing grille – avail­able in 24-carat gold for $105,000 – to the clas­si­cally el­e­gant rear, and then there’s the cabin. Hand-pol­ished wood ve­neer; floors cov­ered in sheep­skin, or sad­dle leather, or any­thing else your heart de­sires; sur­faces clad in mul­ti­ple hides, each mea­sur­ing six square me­tres, from bulls with skin suf­fi­ciently per­fect to sup­ply sweep­ing ex­panses; and of course what­ever tech toys take your fancy. And then there are the ad­di­tions – the car I drove in­cluded a fridge with slots for two bot­tles and two glasses that slid from the cen­tre base of the rear seat.

Com­pany spin

Rolls-Royce has tripled the size of its busi­ness in the last two years. “The only thing we haven’t tripled is the peo­ple” says Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Muller-Otvos. Yes, he’s Ger­man but de­voted to the Bri­tish­ness of the brand, which is in­te­gral to its ap­peal. “Ev­ery Rolls Royce in the world is built here,” with ex­ported cars usu­ally trav­el­ling by air. Muller-Otvos was re­spon­si­ble for re­launch­ing Mini, a task he says meant de­vel­op­ing a uniquely British char­ac­ter so it is “poly­glot and works any­where’’. But with Rolls, “it is truly British and that is one rea­son peo­ple buy;” so the car will never be built else­where. Or in big num­bers – ex­clu­siv­ity is a core at­tribute, so in­creas­ing prof­its means boost­ing the be­spoke depart­ment in charge of al­ter­ing the stan­dard car to your re­quire­ments – about 90 per cent of Phan­toms are cus­tom tai­lored.


That Rolls-Royce makes amod­ern car which oozes clas­sic el­e­gance and an al­most tan­gi­ble sense of his­tory. And that it still fosters craft skills oth­er­wise be­com­ing rare.


The be­spoke depart­ment’s com­mit­ment to keep­ing ev­ery buyer happy has led to some atroc­i­ties – a pros­thetic-beige-pink car with ma­roon in­te­rior was on the line for my visit. We asked the be­spoke gen­eral man­ager Lars Klawitte if there’s any­thing he wouldn’t de­liver on the grounds of taste? “No. I would not sug­gest to a client that my taste is bet­ter.”

Su­pe­rior: The Phan­tom oozes money, power and sub­stance in ev­ery larger-than-life line.

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