What is the most comfortable car on sale?

That’s to exclude the top-level comfort of a car’s seat and its driving position, though – which, when you really concentrate on it, can have a defining influence on ride comfort all by itself.

It also skates blithely over topics like surface-noise filtering, ride suppleness, body rigidity, damper response, close body control head toss and bump-thump isolation. (I haven’t made up any of these terms, I promise.)

Softness is as good a place to start as any. At the simplest of levels, soft-riding cars are comfortable ones, or so we’re encouraged to think. So which of these cars feel genuinely soft?

Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud 

Only one, funnily enough: and it’s not the old one. On its 15in wheels and 75-aspect tyres, I expected – perhaps wanted – the Silver Cloud to feel like the gentlest, waftiest car in our quintet.

But this quite clearly is a six-decades-old car on leaf springs and with a live rear axle. It rides softly, lacking only a little ride compliance and dexterity compared with the modern cars, but shows its age in every little twitter and creak of its gorgeous, graceful body and chassis.

Even so, it hovers, woofles and sweeps its way over a testing B-road so demurely, keeping its passengers comfortable, thanks in no small part to seat cushioning into which your backside disappears a little as if into a beanbag chair.

Rolls-Royce Phantom 

But it’s the Silver Cloud’s descendent, the Rolls-Royce Phantom, that really wafts – and, a little surprisingly, it’s the only modern limousine here to do it.

That’s a choice on Goodwood’s part. Rolls-Royce wants its flagship to feel more luxurious than anything else, so it has allowed it a softer-sprung, longer-travel ride gait than anything else in the modern super-luxury class. As we will come to later, it’s had to accept a few compromises as a result.

The bigger picture, as Rolls-Royce will see it, is that on the averagely well-surfaced roads over which any Phantom will travel for 99% of its life, it floats along in a way that feels almost supernatural. It glides over longer-wave inputs.

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