Rolls-Royce has released an image (above) of the all-new, all-aluminium structure that will underpin the next-generation 2018 Phantom.
As you can see, the image doesn't reveal much about the new Phantom - Phantom VIII in Rolls-Royce parlance. As you would expect, the door aperture is very big and almost square, perfect for entering and exiting the lounge-like rear quarters with dignity. The quarterlight window is carried over from the current model and even the fuel filler will be in the same place, going by the small hole in the C-pillar.
Camouflaged prototypes have been seen undergoing cold-weather testing which similarly suggest the styling of the Phantom VIII will be evolutionary. Under the disguise, the overall shape is clearly that of a Phantom, though it appears less upright and the detailing more modern. It looks like a mash-up of Phantom and Ghost styling cues, in other words. Presumably Rolls doesn't want to alienate existing Phantom buyers, while trying to appeal to traditionally younger Ghost buyers who might have been put off by the baroque mansion-esque styling of the current Phant.
Equally, spy shots of the interior point to a clean and elegant layout similar to the current car, but with an up-to-date dual-screen infotainment system.
The new Phantom's structure will also form the basis of the next-gen Ghost/Wraith/Dawn triumvirate. No technical details have been announced yet.
In the meantime, demand for the existing Phantom remains strong after Rolls announced production will close at the end of this year. All 50 Zenith Coupe and Drophead models were snapped up in short order, and a lot of one-offs finished by Bespoke are being commissioned, as well. Indeed, though the last Phantom is scheduled to roll off the production line on 31 December, deliveries will continue well into 2017, such is the amount of time the Bespoke commissions can take to complete.
Though we have two years to wait until next Phantom is launched, 2017 will be all about the hotly-anticipated, highly controversial Rolls-Royce SUV.