The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom

It’s an eerie experience. Slide into the new Rolls-Royce Phantom, and you don’t have to reach out and shut the door behind you. Nor does your personal assistant, valet, or luxury high-rise doorman—whoever may have held the door open for you—have to heave it closed. With the touch of a button, either one of you can activate “The Embrace.” Silently, gently, as if pushed by a ghostly footman, the massive door whispers itself shut.

2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom

It’s a little spooky, a haunted-house gag come to life. But Rolls-Royce revels in spookiness. Just look at the names on the cars. Wraith: An apparition of a living person, seen immediately before death. Ghost: A slightly less debonair Wraith. Imagine any other automaker naming its models after specters of the afterlife.

Rolls-Royce knows how alluring a dash of the ominous can be. And the all-new 2018 Phantom, the $450,000 king of the lineup, lives up to its haunting name. This isn’t just a luxury car—it’s a rolling mansion staffed by benevolent ghosts.

The interior presented design challenges of its own. The last Phantom was penned in 2003, updated in 2012. In-car technology has flourished since then, but Taylor wasn’t tempted to fully succumb to the trend. “I think there’s something not very nice about sliding your hand across a black screen,” he tells me. So while the new Rolls-Royce has all the infotainment features you’d expect, available to front and rear passengers and controlled by a BMW-style toggle knob, the screens and controls disappear behind polished wood when not in use. All tucked away, Rolls-Royce’s traditional aesthetic remains. “It’s not the granddad who suddenly puts on a pair of sneakers to appear cool,” Taylor says.

The hushed ride is just part of it. Take the climate controls. Each rear passenger gets a set, sprouting from the armrest on the door. There’s no digital temperature readout here, no finicky capacitive buttons or klutzy touchscreens. Just two cast metal knobs, cool to the touch. One, with red and blue stripes, adjusts temperature. The other, with a leather wrapped barrel, clicks through four fan speeds. You don’t ponder whether you’d be more comfortable at 69 degrees versus 70 when you use them. You don’t really think at all. It’s effortless.

“So many people, when they sit in the back of a Phantom, they just relax,” CEO Müller-Ötvös says. “Detox. Get my phone away from me. I don’t want to be in touch, I just want to relax.”

Other luxury automakers try to impress you, try to wow you with technology or performance or edgy design. From the VIP seat in a Phantom, those efforts look a little tragic. True luxury isn’t distraction or entertainment. It’s being able to let your mind wander, free from the worries of decision-making. The Rolls-Royce Phantom offers that in a way no other luxury car can. It’s so good, it’s a little scary.

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