Rolls-Royce Phantom 2008 Review
October 17, 2008
$375,540 - $431,640
It's not even that expensive an undertaking.
Holden and, especially, Ford would be only too glad to sell you the means to do so for substantially under $50,000. So you needn't wear a white collar on a professional basis in order to afford this particular sensation, much less a crash helmet.
But there is getting there and then there's getting there in unparalleled style and comfort without appearing to exert the least effort. That's a feeling only the several super rich Australians who will take delivery of the new $1 million plus Roll-Royce Phantom Coupe this year will come to know.
And, of course, this obscenely fortunate Carsguider who has been given a sneak preview of the only Coupe currently on the continent.
So what, I can hear a few of you murmuring? How is this automotive emblem of excess relevant to the other 99.98 per cent of us? For that matter, isn't this exposition bordering on bad taste during this time of encroaching austerity?
Valid points - to which we'd respond that anyone who cares for cars (as opposed to those who claim to but whose enthusiasm goes no further than Holden or Ford) would care to know of what is arguably the world's best. The other point is the last thing relevant to the subject of Rolls-Royce is relevance itself.
“No-one needs a $1 million car,” says Bevin Clayton of Trivett Classic Rolls-Royce, the man who will sell 22 of them this year. Indeed, for the approximate equivalent of the Luxury Car Tax on the Rolls - some $300,000 - you could buy a Maserati GranTurismo.
“But once you have driven one, it's awfully hard to go back.”
That's something likely to be appreciated by the first time Roller buyers that the Coupe is expected to attract. Clayton posits these would have been intimidated by the sheer scale of the Phantom sedan (to say nothing of the long-wheelbase version there of) and who also shrank from the exposure of the gorgeous Drophead Coupe.
In reality, the hardhat Coupe is scarcely any less physically imposing on the road either in form or in sheer presence. In some respects, it's the most aesthetically pleasing of the three to date, combining the best attributes of both.
From the front three-quarters it really couldn't be anything else on earth. The Spirit of Ecstasy emblem is as ever perched on a silver grille that fills rear vision mirrors and silently bids those in front to merge left. The bonnet is the now familiar polished metallic, contrasting in this case to deeply reflective Diamond Black paint.
The lines are emphasised with twin deep red pinstripes, painted by hand with ox-tail brushes. The Coupe's individuality becomes apparent as you reach the small rear window and peer through at the cabin-long mahogany panelling that culminates in the traditional rear deck. If backseat passengers lack the amenity of the sedan, even the tallest have more than ample room while they stare at the ceiling in which dozens of tiny LED lights convey the impression of a brilliantly starlit night.
Crack either of the rear-hinged suicide doors and all is as you would hope - expanses of mahogany hide, silver switches, and what Clayton says is an ever so slightly thicker version of that spindly, old-world steering wheel. Glorious.
The third of the new generation of Phantom-based cars since 2003, after BMW rescued the hallowed marque from penury, offers something besides than two fewer doors than the sedan and a more solid roof than the Drophead. A hint is provided by those unique chrome exhaust pipes.
“Sporty” is the most sorely abused term in the auto lexicon, but the Coupe's take on this notion is as departed from normal usage as Roll-Royce itself is from mere mortal marques. Engage the silver “S” button on the steering wheel, punch the accelerator and the Coupe's 2.6 tonnes and 5.6 metres consumes the landscape both with the Roll’s trademark “waft” and a newfound assertiveness.
The damping seems keener and gearing calibrated to do the standard sprint distance in a claimed 5.8 seconds. When shoved, the otherwise almost silently purring 6.75-litre V12 permits itself a resonant timbre. Not a rumble. That would be uncouth.
Mainly, though the driving experience - at least on our jaunt through the Coupe's natural habitat of Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, remains a case of effortless majesty, a nearly ethereal feeling that puts every pretender to the ultra-luxury throne firmly back in their place.
ROLLS ROYCE PHANTOM COUPE
Price: est. about $1million
Engine: 6.75L/V12 338kW/720Nm
Economy: 15.7L/100km (claimed)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic RWD
$375,540 - $431,640