Can the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé offer enough extra driver appeal to make it a viable sporty alternative to the saloon or convertible?
What is it?
The entirely predictable coupe version of Rolls’ Phantom Drophead cabriolet. Only the very richest need apply – but the lucky few who put one in their (inevitably well-stocked) garages will get themselves the most exclusive grand tourer on the planet.
Power comes from the same 6.75-litre V12 engine that powers all the BMW-era Rollers, meaning 453bhp and 531lb ft of torque. That’s undoubtedly more-than-plenty – although the figures look slightly anaemic next to the astonishing 731lb ft that the Bentley Brooklands extracts from its far more old-fashioned turbocharged V8.
What’s it like?
An amazing experience. You could spend hours in the Phantom Coupe without even moving and not run out of things to look at and touch. As with other modern Rollers, the detailing is exquisite, from the rear-hinged ‘suicide’ doors to the umbrellas that pop out of the front wings.
The neatest toy is the so-called ‘Starlight’ headlining – an extra cost option that adds 1600 tiny lights into the ceiling, creating the effect of sitting beneath a glowing night sky. And yes, millionaire owners will be able to specify their own crests or patterns to be included in the pattern.
Driving the Phantom Coupe proves it’s far more than just a show-pony. Indeed, some subtle dynamic tweaks ensure that this is by far the best-handling of the Phantom family, and the first that an owner might try to pilot in an enthusiastic fashion.
Steering weight has been increased compared to the Phantom saloon and Drophead, and although the rack is still very low-geared, it delivers enough communication to make brisk progress an stress-free experience. The Phantom Coupe never feels less than massive, but it does a far better job of shrinking its apparent dimensions on a sweeping road than the saloon or cabrio do.
Rolls-Royce has also added a ‘Sport’ button to the steering wheel to sharpen the transmission’s reactions. It works reasonably well, although there’s still no way for the driver to directly determine which of the six ratios is engaged – but despite the V12 engine’s silken efforts, the Phantom Coupe never feels quite as rapid as you think it should. It wouldn’t see which way an enthusiastically driven Brooklands went.
The lack of straight-line performance probably won’t bother potential owners too much – especially not as they will be getting themselves one of the most refined vehicles in the world. The Coupe is amazingly quiet and comfortable – conversations can be conducted in hushed tones at the sort of speeds necessary for crossing entire Continents. Firming up the ride hasn’t diminished ride comfort either. All in all, an amazing car.
So, should I buy one?
You should certainly start saving. The Rolls is almost £70k more expensive than the Bentley Brooklands – but at this end of the market that’s not going to be of anything more than peripheral concern. If you’re looking for the most exclusive coupe in the world – and you’ve got the bank balance to land it – then this is it.