This is the new smaller, cheaper Rolls-Royce, codenamed ‘RR4’. Priced at £170,000, it will come with a similar price tag to Bentley’s Arnage, and will go on sale at the end of 2009.
A production-ready ‘RR4’ will be revealed at the Frankfurt Show in six months’ time. However, next week in Geneva Rolls-Royce will unveil a concept called 200EX, which is pictured above and look so much like the finished car that its designers aren’t even listing any visual differences.
What the new model isn’t, Goodwood bosses insist, is a cheap or ‘baby’ Rolls. Its materials and manufacturing standards will be no different from those of the Phantom, and its overall length is an imposing 5.4 metres.
Yet the Phantom is nearly half a metre longer, and the ‘RR4’ – whose production name has yet to be even decided, let alone revealed – uses a steel monocoque body-in-white more akin to mass-produced BMWs than to the bespoke aluminium spaceframe of the Phantom.
Engineering director Helmut Riedl, who led the Phantom project, doesn’t hide the ‘RR4’s’ relationship with BMWs, principally the new 7-series. It is, after all, a front-engine/rear drive V12 saloon which uses “important parts” from the 7-series body-in-white, and especially the basic front and rear crash assemblies, to help contain costs.
However, only about 20 per cent of the new Rolls’ components are carried over from 7-series and other BMWs, he says.
“RR4 has a unique height, length and wheelbase,” says Riedl. “Its air springs are shared with no other model because its ride characteristics are different and it needs extra wheel travel. Even the height of the driving position is different, both from BMWs and from the Phantom. We started engineering the car only after its proportions had been laid down by Ian Cameron, our chief designer. That was when we investigated which existing components we could utilise. Above all, the car had to be a genuine Rolls-Royce.”