2019 ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM VIII DRIVE: NOT JUST A CHAUFFEUR CAR

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It's the first time I've been tense in three days. The Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII I'm piloting is worth a half-million dollars, and frankly, I don't have that sort of cash on me. Up until now, I've been the picture of calm behind the wheel of 20 feet and 5,700 pounds of arguably the greatest luxury on four wheels. But these narrow lanes and speeding New Yorkers are making me nervous.

The historic Saw Mill River Parkway in Westchester County, north of New York City, began construction in 1926, the same year the Rolls-Royce Phantom I entered production at the Rolls-Royce of America plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. The stone bridges crossing over the highway were clearly never intended to have four lanes of 55-plus-mph traffic crammed under them. After a few bridges, though, it's clear my trepidation is unwarranted. The Phantom is as agile and precise as a purebred sport sedan. Rear-axle steering sharpens the responses, and active anti-roll bars keep all this mass on an even keel as the road follows the river's contours. The steering is fingertip light and millimeter accurate, a far cry from the Phantom VII that lurched like a yacht in heavy seas while I traversed Los Angeles the better part of a decade ago.

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