Rolls-Royce re­veals $450,000 Phan­tom VIII

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

Rolls-Royce has un­veiled its new Phan­tom, the flag­ship of the Bri­tish lux­ury brand.

In in­tro­duc­ing the Phan­tom VIII on Thurs­day, Roll­sRoyce chief ex­ec­u­tive Torsten Muller-Otvos 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, Muller-Otvos 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 V-12 en­gine; an all-alu­minum 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,” which Rolls-Royce de­scribes as, “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, MullerOtvos 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-net­worth 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 old­fash­ioned and might die at a cer­tain point in time.”

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