Advertisement

‘The Phantom has been a success, so why change a winning formula?’

Carmakers won’t abandon popular designs even if new models are anti-climactic, argues Graham Hope

One of the great privileges about this job is the opportunity to see new cars – or pictures of new cars – before they are presented to the wider world. The anticipation is always tangible as we open the images on our laptops and cast our eyes over the first official shots of an all-new model.

Advertisement - Article continues below

We had one of those moments this week, as the team huddled around a computer to check out the new Rolls-Royce Phantom. And the reaction as that first image opened up before our eyes? “Oh.”

Best luxury cars 2017

Because, let’s be honest here, it looks rather a lot like the last one, doesn’t it? It’s not the first time this has happened recently; the BMW 5 Series and Audi Q5 didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, either.

Explaining Rolls-Royce’s position, designer Alex Innes admitted: “It’s similar to the old car in terms of lineage. We wanted the new car to be unmistakably ‘Phantom’ but modernise it.”

And you know what? I get that. The Phantom has been a big success for Rolls, so why mess with a winning formula? In many ways, creating a car that needs so little done to it in terms of a design update is mission accomplished for car companies. Customers will buy it regardless of how it looks (and what this impoverished commentator thinks).

So the rationale is understandable, and I acknowledge the Phantom is everything you expect a Rolls to be. But as car fans above all else, there’s always that little sense of anti-climax here in the Auto Express office when companies prove so restrained in updating their new models.  

On a slightly separate theme, and again speaking as a petrolhead, I was rather bemused at some of the hysterical headlines in the mainstream press that accompanied last week’s announcement of a petrol and diesel ‘ban’ in the United Kingdom by 2040. We bring you the real story here.

Do you disagree with Graham? Let us know in the comments section below.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020
'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'
News

'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'

Just because premium brands can offer cheap finance deals, it doesn't mean that they can fob buyers off with poor customer service, says Deputy editor…
15 Apr 2020
“UK motor industry – your country and its people need you”
News

“UK motor industry – your country and its people need you”

Mike Rutherford thinks the motor industry can still do more to help provide life-saving medical kit
12 Apr 2020

Most Popular

SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus
Family hatchbacks

SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus

The Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon are all long established hatchbacks - we find out which is best among the latest crop
11 Jul 2020
New Peugeot 3008 could morph into a coupe-SUV in 2022
Peugeot 3008

New Peugeot 3008 could morph into a coupe-SUV in 2022

Peugeot’s next-generation 3008 looks set to receive a radical redesign in two years’ time, evolving into a style-focussed coupe-SUV
13 Jul 2020
New Skoda Octavia vRS 2020 ride review
Skoda Octavia vRS Hatchback

New Skoda Octavia vRS 2020 ride review

We get our first taste of 242bhp Skoda Octavia vRS with Skoda tech development boss Christian Strube in the driver’s seat
10 Jul 2020