Rolls-Royce – the automaker known for its Flying Lady on the hood – forever proved to me and two others that the new Phantom is much more than just a luxury lounge on wheels. When asked to dart around an unidentified flying object on a highway in southern France last Saturday, the Phantom performed perfectly, saving me and the two other people in the car from potentially serious injuries.
The near tragedy happened as the three of us were casually cruising down the D4 highway near Cabris, France. Rolls-Royce held a ride-and-drive event for the refreshed Phantom last weekend. A fellow journalist, who asked not to be named, was driving, Rolls-Royce Corporate Communications Manager for North America Kristina Marchitto was in the passenger seat and I was in the back of the long-wheelbase Phantom.
We were in the right lane going about 100km (about 62 mph) when something large, square and blue dislodged from the top of a van. The massive square object was heading right for the front of the car.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion.
The object, which we believe was a mattress but it could have been a box spring or a wooden frame covered in a blue tarp, flipped in the air and appeared headed for the left lane. We moved to the right. Then the object changed direction and crashed into the right lane just as we were able to shift over to the left lane with an assist from brake calipers from Continental Teves, brake discs from Rolls-Royce parent BMW and stability control from Robert Bosch.
Fortunately, it appeared that the cars behind us also escaped without damage or injuries.
The entire event took less than 10 seconds and felt like a scene out of a big-budget action movie. After it was over we all felt like our hearts were going to pound out of our chests.
Most owners of the 6092mm-long, 2670kg Phantom that we had will never drive the car. Like me, they'll be in the back, hoping that the person at the wheel has quick reflexes and the people who made the car provided the right mix of power and agility to get out of a tough situation.