Although the all-new Rolls-Royce Phantom is still at least three years from gracing the world stage, executives are hinting at its design direction and engineering elements.
According to sources speaking to Autocar, the BMW-owned luxury car maker is considering a shift from the current car's aluminium spaceframe layout to a carbonfibre body sitting atop an aluminium chassis.
Such a design would reduce the Phantom's weight and fuel consumption — the current model weighs a not insubstantial two-and-a-half tonnes and drinks 22.8L/100km in the city. The switch could even bring about a pillarless design that would appeal to traditionalists, but the production of 1000 extra body shells per year may stretch BMW's carbonfibre facilities beyond their limit.
While the new Phantom may share the BMW i3's carbonfibre body-aluminium chassis configuration, don't expect it to be anywhere near as radical too look at as the electric hatchback. According to Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce's head of design, the styling of the next-generation Phantom will tread "an evolutionary path" and will retain current car's large C-pillar, which affords rear passengers a substantial amount of privacy.
A V12 petrol motor, not too dissimilar to the 338kW 6.75-litre version powering the current car, will be present in the new Phantom. Autocar and AutoExpress both state that a plug-in hybrid version of the next Phantom is a certainty.
The possibility of all electric Phantom, however, is less clear, with reaction to the 102EX Phantom Experimental Electric tempered by concerns about range. The 102EX could manage around 200km between recharges, although newer electric cars, such as the Tesla Model S, can manage over 400km.
The current Phantom was the first vehicle designed by BMW after it took full control of the brand. Debuting back in 2003, it's now available as a standard and long wheelbase limousine, coupe and convertible. Uniquely in this day and age each Phantom model features reverse-hinged doors.