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Rolls-Royce Phantom Saloon engines, drive and performance

2003 - 2012 (change model)
Performance rating: 5 out of 55.0

Written by David Ross Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

It might share its V12 configuration with the top BMW 7-Series, but the Phantom’s displacement of 6.7 litres (at 6749cc it’s just a cubic centimetre less than the old Rolls-Royce V8 engines built at Crewe) puts distance between the two engines. Maximum power of 453bhp and 531lb-ft of torque of means the Phantom always feels relaxed with plenty in reserve if necessary.

A six-speed automatic transmission is offered with a steering column-mounted selector. If required, the Phantom will sprint from 0-60mph in a mere 5.7 seconds, but maximum enjoyment is derived from being in the car as it wafts along in silence, whether driving or as a passenger. A BMW engineer once tried to differentiate the character of the engines in the BMW 760i and the Rolls-Royce by describing acceleration in the Rolls-Royce feeling ‘as if an angel’s hand is pushing the car forward’.

If you ever experience it, you’ll know what he meant.

The Phantom is a heavy car with more length, width and height to contend with than most. But it has been engineered to the highest possible standards and never feels as big as it actually is once on the open road. The thin steering wheel turns the Phantom with surprising precision and while the character of the motor car does not encourage the driver to test its ability to tackle twisty roads, it feels willing and able when pushed.

There is more body roll than in many lower, less expensive, luxury saloons, but the sacrifice in composure from sudden direction changes is worth the extra comfort. It comes with air suspension for a super-smooth ride as well as electronic damper control.