Wintry – the first meeting with the Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB
By Michael Erhardt – with thanks to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase (EWB) was launched for the UK and European markets at the Geneva motor show in March 2006 and has been available for customers since April. But on the 17 March, less than one week after the exhibition was closed, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars generously gave me a demonstrator to experience and to drive this car to write the following report.
It is 4:00 pm and I am waiting in front of the house where my office is. It started snowing half an hour ago– winter is back. And behold! here it comes around the corner: I stop breathing. Having seen the standard Phantom several times, I did not expect the EWB to be that impressive. What a sight! What a car!
It is chassis UX00767, painted in black with a moccasin leather and walnut interior. Special features show curtains in the rear, a steering wheel with wooden spokes and a separate controller for entertainment, communication and navigation in the rear centre armrest.
The driver is a young student from Hamburg who does some practical training at the office of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Munich. A nice guy who also is much interested in cars.
I open the long rear door and enter this black castle. Having a seat in the short Phantom is great, but sitting in the rear of the EWB, you are amazed by the space in front of you, and you remember the old days of the Phantom V and Phantom VI. Everything still looks and feels - except for several modern features of course - like a big classic Rolls-Royce Phantom has always done. The EWB is 25cm longer than the standard car, but all for the benefit of the passengers sitting behind the chauffeur, and there may even be enough space to create a classic Touring Limousine with seven seats. Let’s wait for an extended Phantom with division and compare it with a James Young Phantom V : design PV23.
But there is one big difference to all chauffeur driven Phantoms of the past: the driver’s place of the EWB is most comfortable and ergonomic. It is not just a working place any more. Owners of a Phantom EWB who are normally being chauffeured will have much fun driving this car themselves, and a professional chauffeur has a healthy and relaxing place to work that helps concentrate on the traffic around.
The handling and performance are exceptional and cannot be attained by any other car. It is so easy and relaxing to drive. You never are aware of the enormous size of the EWB when driving it, but having got out of the car or when looking for a parking lot, the dimensions become more than obvious.
Of course this Rolls-Royce is meant to be chauffeur driven, and those people (myself included) who have only wanted to drive themselves when travelling in a new Phantom, discover that being driven in the EWB is of such high quality that they enjoy being chauffeured as well as driving. And so I feel unexpected pleasure sitting in the back. It is so comfortable that I think of closing the curtains to make everything perfect while the snow outside is getting more and more.
The streets are wet and we are caught up in the rush hour, but inside there is a ghostly calmness. Those of us accustomed to the unbelievable quietness of the Phantom may feel that the EWB seems to be even more quiet than soundless! One cannot describe this, it really must be experienced!
My driver has not been in Munich before and is happy to be shown some sights. One of them is most suitable for our first photos: the National Theatre at the end of Maximilianstrasse - the most exclusive shopping street in Munich. When I was a student I often went there to look for Rolls-Royce cars, but today a wish comes true: being chauffeured through this street in a very special Rolls-Royce.
It is snowing and snowing: what a pity! The snowflakes make a “wonderful” contrast to the black colour of the car. Well, winter photos of a Phantom EWB may be rare in the future, and my chauffeur and I have a lot of fun observing the reactions of the people passing by.
Car drivers stop their vehicle, and some of their front-seat passengers even try to get on the drivers seat to have a better view of the EWB. But there was a group of Japanese people who had more fun than all the others and took lots of pictures showing each other with the Phantom.
Everybody passing by was happy and deeply impressed and recognised this car as a true Rolls-Royce. Seeing this car from the side view it is obvious that the stretched body makes the Phantom much more balanced and elegant.
The highlight of the afternoon ought to be some spectacular photos in front of the Nymphenburg Castle; but the weather is awful and so, after some nice talks to several interested people, I am allowed to drive myself home and take some photos for souvenirs in front of my family’s house.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB was first launched for the Middle and Far Eastern markets and became more successful than expected. The calculation was based on 5 cars to be sold within the first year, but there were actually 35 cars delivered. Thinking of the European market, it must be mentioned that the Geneva show car was sold during the exhibition which should be understood as a good omen for a car, which really - in my opinion - must be what a real Rolls-Royce ought to be: the best car in the world.
And those looking for a fine present some day or a suitable car for best representation, may finally be interested in the price, which is from £ 254.000, or € 379.000 plus local tax.
Text & photos: Michael Ehrhardt