“Perfection.” That was the ideal that Sir Henry Royce urged his employees to strive towards. In contradiction to the notion that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, Sir Henry also implored his staff, in a vague Hey Jude-esque style, “to take the best that exists and make it better”. 

It’s a pretty good principle to live by and a very good principle to build cars by and in this instance, it’s resulted in the Phantom Series II, unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.

What it means is the series – including Phantom Saloon, Phantom Drophead Coup and Phantom Coup – have been redesigned and tweaked into the 21st century. “These cars are timeless in their appeal,” explains CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös, “but technology moves rapidly and we cannot afford to stand still.”

Hence what Rolls are describing as “significant improvements in design, drive-train and technology” from the full LED headlamps to a new eight-speed gear box. A tweak to headlamps may seem minor but actually whiter light has been found to prevent driver tiredness, the redesign provides greater illumination of the road ahead and even changes the cone of light projected in response to different driving speeds.

Inside the car, a new satellite navigation system includes 3D maps with landscape topography, guided tours and enhanced points of interest, and on a larger 8.8 inch control centre display with eight programmable bookmarks giving the driver one-touch access to their preferred functions. 

In terms of Rolls famous “waftability”, the new gearbox – and rear differential – add smoothness to an already effortless ride. They also help the V12 direct injection engine deliver a 10 per cent improvement on consumption and a similar percentage fall in CO2 emissions.