After a week of living with a Rolls-Royce Phantom, you are left with the feeling that every other car you drive is destined to be an anti-climax.
When you get behind the wheel of this epitome of luxury, it’s as though you have acquired a title overnight.
Not only do you feel like one of the aristocracy but other motorists and pedestrians look at you as if you are.
For years Rolls-Royce has been regarded as the pinnacle of the luxury car makers art and when you drive one, people of all ages turn to stare at you.
There’s also an element of the rarity value of the car, which is not surprising as the one I borrowed had a price tag of a staggering £432,980.
When you first see the Phantom, two things strike you: the dramatic Rolls-Royce grille topped with the famous “Spirit of Ecstasy” figurine and the sheer size of the vehicle. At 19ft 2ins long it’s big. Very big.
But it’s not until you open the door that the sheer opulence you get with a car like this hits you.
My car was upholstered in blue (to match the bodywork) and cream leather, with the RR emblem embossed into all four headrests.
I say four because this one had two individual rear seats rather than a full bench.
Complimenting the leather was a plethora of highly polished walnut burr inserts on the doors and dashboard which all perfectly matched, a tribute to British craftsmanship at its best.
And while these cars are state of the art, there are still retro touches like the traditional organ stop switches for the air vents and the super slender leather steering wheel.
When I opened one of several compartments between the two rear seats, I found two cut glass decanters in an illuminated cabinet.
Above, in another compartment, were the matching glasses while in a third section was the cooler box for the bubbly.
On the backs of each of the two front seats were picnic tables for the rear seat passengers to place their drinks on. These then opened up into two picnic table-sized television screens, receiving satellite TV.
Front seat travellers are not left out as there’s a third television located behind a revolving analogue clock in the dashboard. Posh or what?
Should the rear seat travellers want to watch a programme in private, they can close the side and rear blinds at the touch of an overhead button.
As on all Rolls-Royce models, the rear doors open in the opposite way to those at the front. That would normally make them difficult to reach to close, but in this car you just press a switch.
All four seats are electronically adjustable, operated by tiny individual joysticks in the central armrests, while your feet rest on three inch thick lambs wool rugs – in blue to match the colour scheme.
On the road the 6.8-litre V12 engine makes light work of pulling such a heavy vehicle and inside you travel in total silence. In fact even from the outside the engine’s inaudible.
The eight-speed gearbox is operated via a column change and slips from one to the other seamlessly.
If you floor the accelerator pedal – which doesn’t really seem the right thing to do in such a car – there is no sudden lurch pinning you to the seatbacks. You seem to simply hit high speed in a very fast but refined manner, befitting this car’s status.
For me, motoring will never be the same again.
Basic price: £276,275
Mechanical: 6749cc, 12 cyl, 453bhp petrol engine driving rear wheels via 8 spd automatic gearbox.
Max speed: 149mph
0-62mph: 5.9 secs
Combined mpg: 19.1
CO2 emissions: 347 g/km
Warranty: 4 years unlimited mileage