If you had your choice of any seat in the new Rolls-Royce Phantom where would it be? Apparently it’s un-Australian to say anything other than “the driver’s seat".
That’s according to the regional director for Rolls-Royce’s for the Asia Pacific division, Paul Harris, who revealed that where the rest of the world would rather recline in the opulent rear, Aussie’s would rather take the wheel.
“I would say it is double the global average,” Harris said about the percentage of Australian Rolls-Royce owners who drive rather than ride.
He added: “What I love about here is every time I speak to clients they always tell me about their driving experience. If I speak to clients in other places around the world they tell me about their experiences in the back and they reference their driver a lot. Here, you very rarely hear that referenced.”
Although it may be ultra-exclusive in nature, the mammoth new Phantom is driving massive interest locally, or at least as much interest as a car with a starting price of $950,000 (plus on-road costs) can.
Harris expects pre-orders for the new Phantom to hit double digits before the first examples of the car hit Australian roads in the second quarter of 2018.
That $950k price is just for the ‘regular’ wheelbase model with an anything but regular 5.8 metre length. Opt for the extended wheelbase Phantom (with an extra 220mm between the wheels) and you’ll have to find $1.1m. That’s before delving into the almost endless list of personalisation and bespoke options.
Under the massive flat-planed bonnet of the Rolls behemoth is a new a 6.7-litre twin-turbo V12 that produces 420kW of power and 900Nm of torque, for trademark ‘effortless’ performance - which in a modern context means a 0-100 km/h time of 5.3 seconds for the standard car.
It’s not just Australian millionaires that are buying the Phantom. The classic British luxury brand, which is now owned by BMW, is attracting a new generation of celebrities in the same way previous Phantom models were owned by the likes of John Lennon and Elvis Presley.
Harris confirmed that the new Phantom is set to become the contemporary symbol of success for a number of Japanese and Korean pop stars who are queueing up for the new model.
“I think icons follow icons at the end of the day,” he said. “It’s very important that those icons understand what that product does for them and what we’re able to do for them. And more and more of them are becoming as discerning as successful rich people and they want to have their own flavour of what they’re developing.”
But despite its traditional old-money standing, Rolls-Royce even has a 21-year-old technology entrepreneur among its new owners to the brand.
As a hallmark of the new generation, the Phantom now features what’s known as the ‘Gallery’, a large pane of glass that spans the dashboard, allowing owners to display their choice of art or sculpture behind the glass pane.
Naturally it doesn’t come cheap with a “standard” artwork from Rolls-Royce costing more than $30,000 and further personalisation likely to cost a lot more.
“If they commission their own artists, they’ve got to work with us [to integrate it into the car], so you’ve got the cost of the artist and the cost of us doing it. So it all adds significant cost to the car.”
When asked if he expected any owners to spend more than the cost of the car by customising the Gallery with rare or specialised artwork Harris said he is expecting it.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if it happened,” he said. “I was speaking to one Japanese client at the [preview] event who has a unique collection that’s very valuable. Rather than just keep it locked away in a cabinet at home he wanted to convert that and put it in his car.”