A full reveal will come July 27th.
The nameplate has existed under the Rolls-Royce banner since the 1920s, but has only ever been affixed to a total of seven generations of car. The latest, introduced in 2003, was a landmark automobile to bear the Sprit of Ecstasy, being the first introduced under the marque’s new era under the stewardship of the BMW Group.
In the most recent version, the Phantom VII (and the updated Series II of 2012) set the visual template for every Rolls-Royce that would emerge hand-built from their factory in Goodwood, England: the Wraith, the Dawn, and the Ghost.
Now, as the 14 year mark closes in, as evidenced by this single teaser image, a new version is being prepared for a reveal in the coming months. Though, upon dissecting the visual cues present here as well as examining the leaked images that emerged yesterday from its Chinese distribution network (their largest market) and obtained by Chinese media sites, this 2018 Phantom may not look as radically new as its decade-and-a-half gestation period would have most of us expect.
However, keeping in mind that Rolls-Royce has a very specific image to maintain and little by way of direct competition, they don’t really need to keep up with the Joneses in the design department. So long as it looks modern and, importantly, is instantly recognisable as an Rolls-Royce: mission accomplished.
It will most certainly be as imposing as the last Phantom was, perhaps even more so in order to distance itself a nudge further away from the Ghost. That said, BMW’s carbon-polymer construction methods could very well make their way into Rolls-Royce's cars as well, starting with the new Phantom. The new platform should weigh less and provide more structural rigidity and will be shared with the upcoming Cullinan SUV, as will some key styling elements.
As for what will power the new car, it’s unclear whether Rolls Royce will keep using its traditional 6.75-litre V12. Perhaps the sheer importance of a new Phantom’s introduction will be just the occasion necessary to shift the Rolls-Royce flagship into the turbocharged and/or hybrid era.
The BMW Group certainly has not shortage of available tech and technical capacity achieve these goals. Another possibility is that it will powered by a bored-out version of the BMW’s N74 twin-turbocharged V12 (which is already used in the Ghost, Wraith, and Dawn), augmented by the an electric motor and battery setup similar to Bimmer's iPerformance range, delivering its output directly to new Phantom’s driveline.
As previously mentioned, Rolls Royce will be holding a full reveal of the 8th-generation Phantom later this month (July 27th), so our lingering questions won’t stay unanswerable for much longer.