Our spy photographers have captured the best pictures yet of Rolls-Royce’s fourth model, known by its internal code of ‘RR4’, testing without most of the cladding that’s disguised prototypes until now.

The shape of the baby Rolls’ body sides are clearly visible for the first time, along with the big Phantom-style door handles on the rear-hinged ‘suicide’ doors. At the rear the RR4’s vast bootlid is obvious along with the stepped rear wings.

Despite slotting in at the bottom of the range, the RR4 is a big car. Former Rolls boss Ian Robertson has described it as “splitting the difference between a Phantom and the BMW 7-Series.”http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsGallery.aspx?AR=234654&EL=-1>> See more spy shots of the Rolls Royce RR4

Based on the new 7-series platform, the RR4 is being engineered in Germany, but will be produced at the company’s factory in Goodwood on a new production line. The RR4 is intended to fill out Rolls’ model range, selling for around £170,000. According to the company’s research, there are around a million people in the world who would be able to consider buying an RR4. That’s a dramatic improvement on the Phantom’s ultra-rich potential customer base of just 100,000. It’s also anticipated the RR4 will appeal more strongly to corporate buyers.

Despite the close link to the 7-Series, Rolls-Royce is adamant that the RR4 will be a ‘proper; Rolls. It will have its own engine, rather than a BMW unit, and we don’t expect to see it with a diesel.

We’ll see the car at the Geneva motor show next March, and it goes on sale in 2010.

Dan Stevens