Downside: The Phantom uses lots of fuel and costs lots of money. Some people may see it as excessive, but they probably aren't the people who can afford the car.

Upside: What is life without fantasy and the wonderfully odd? Cars such as the Phantom are antidotes to boredom. I liken them to fine art.

Head-turning quotient: It gets attention.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The Phantom is a large sedan with a floating-pillow ride. But it's deceptive. Straight-line acceleration is phenomenal! The Phantom reached 130 miles per hour so quickly and quietly, I thought I was still doing around 60 mph -- until the Rolls-Royce engineer sitting in the front-passenger seat cleared his throat. Handling was crisp, nimble -- remarkably agile for a large car.

Body style/layout: The Rolls-Royce Phantom is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, luxury sedan available with short or long-wheelbases. The long-wheelbase models, largely sold overseas, tend to be chauffeur-driven.

Engine/transmission: The Phantom is equipped with a 6.8-liter V-12 engine that develops 453 horsepower at 5,350 revolutions per minute and 531 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Capacities: It seats up to five people. Cargo capacity is 16.2 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 26.4 gallons of required premium unleaded gasoline.

Mileage: Mileage is 13.9 miles per gallon in the city and 23.8 mpg on the highway. Combined mileage is 17.1 mpg, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Safety: Rigid body construction with multiple aluminum crash-absorption zones. Rolls officials say the Phantom can withstand a 40 percent offset frontal crash at 42 mph with no critical deformation, and absolutely no crash intrusion in the vicinity of the front doors. That generally means passengers also protected by belts and air bags have a good chance of escaping an otherwise catastrophic crash with little or no injury.

Price: The Phantom starts at $328,000. Options can bring it to $350,000, or higher.

Purse-strings note: Are you joking? The people who can afford this car don't have purse strings. They own banks.