The Rolls-Royce Phantom was never going to be the best car in the world. To merit that title today, a car would have to display practical virtues irrelevant to a Rolls. In any case, the firm stopped making that claim for its cars half a century ago. 

But BMW was never in any doubt about the kind of car it had to build to bear the grille, mascot and name it bought in 1998. Rolls-Royce has entered the lexicon as shorthand for refinement and craftsmanship regardless of price.

BMW and its factory at Goodwood had to build, from scratch, literally and figuratively, the Rolls-Royce of motor cars.

Rolls-Royce would rather you not compare the Phantom to anything else in the motoring world. It is a luxury good, it says, more comparable with a Swiss chalet or a piece of fine jewellery.

That’s not the stretch it seems. It’s hard to rationalise such a purchase, when objectively, a Mercedes S-Class could do 99 percent of the job for much, much less money.

But buyers with this much money to spend have likely got an S-Class or two tucked away already, and enough cash in the bank not to have to worry about finance packages.

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