The seventh-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom launched in 2003 is finally on its way out. However, a successor is in the works and has been spotted once again testing on public roads.
Rolls-Royce has developed an all-new aluminum spaceframe architecture that will underpin its entire lineup, starting with this new Phantom.
According to the British automaker, the architecture is variable in size and ride height as it will have to underpin a variety of models including coupes, convertibles, sedans and even an SUV. Yes, Rolls-Royce plans to add an SUV to its lineup. The off-roader is currently doing the rounds under the Project Cullinan code name and has been spotted in test mule form.
The first model spawned from the new architecture has been confirmed for launch in early 2018 and will most likely be the new Phantom. It should be followed that year by the SUV.
The latest shots show a prototype for the regular Phantom while some of the earlier shots show the extra-long “Extended Wheelbase” version, with the latter said to be stretching nearly 20 feet in length. The Phantom Extended Wheelbase prototype dwarfs other vehicles on the road, including the BMW 7-Series standing next to it in some of the shots.
2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom spy shots – Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
The design of the new Phantom is clearly evolutionary. It appears that the designers have taken the current car and made its surfaces a bit more muscular, especially at the rear. Modern touches such as the LED headlights (they could also be laser lights) and front bumper air curtains add some freshness to the overall design.
From the interior shots, we can see that most of the elements are test units borrowed from the BMW Group parts bin. However, the round air vents and leather-bound lower center console are new items.
The new architecture is expected to be considerably lighter than the previous one, also an aluminum spaceframe. Less weight should aid the new Phantom’s dynamics, given that the outgoing model weighs in at over 5,600 pounds.
Less weight will also help offset the weight of an expected plug-in hybrid model, which will feature a large battery. Rolls-Royce has ruled out a fully electric model for now, following feedback on its Phantom 102EX concept, but a plug-in hybrid option could prove popular for buyers in emission-restricted cities. In addition to the plug-in model, a traditional V-12- should remain.
Note, Rolls-Royce has confirmed there won’t be new versions of the Phantom Coupe and Phantom Drophead Coupe. The move makes sense with the smaller, sexier Wraith and Dawn models now on sale. Stay tuned for updates as development progresses.