Rolls-Royce will use next month’s Geneva motor show to blood its first new coupe for over thirty years: the Phantom Coupe. The first of these £285,000 two-doors will be handbuilt-to-order at the firm’s Goodwood factory this summer. It is billed as Rolls-Royce’s most entertaining and dynamic model. And Autocar has detailed and exclusive photographs of it, as well as all of the vital details.“The Phantom Coupe builds on the success we’ve enjoyed with the Phantom saloon since its introduction in 2003,” explains Rolls CEO Ian Robertson. “As our third model built on that same production line, it completes the Phantom family. However it offers a slightly different driving experience to its siblings. This is a luxurious grand tourer; a car you can step from after a long journey feeling great.”
The English gent’s GT
The Phantom Coupe will become the closest thing Rolls-Royce makes to a sports car: the quickest, strongest, stiffest, lowest-riding and most enlivening model to wear the Spirit of Ecstasy. But, true to the Rolls-Royce mould, it’s also a spacious four-seater capable of cosseting mellifluousness too.Underneath it lies a mix of mechanicals: the front structure is related to that of the Drophead convertible, while much of the car’s rear skeleton comes from the Phantom saloon. As a result, it gets the larger sills and stronger A-pillar construction of the former, and the larger 100-litre fuel tank of the latter, giving it a significantly better torsional rigidity than the Phantom saloon, and a greater touring range than the Drophead.The Coupe is 5609mm long overall: it’s 225mm shorter than a Phantom saloon, and 250mm shorter between the wheels, identical measurements to those of the Drophead. The Coupe’s cabin is almost identical to the Drophead’s, too, the only difference being a very marginal reduction in rear headroom. However, in line with its touring remit and larger fuel tank, the Coupe will also swallow more luggage than the Drophead: 395-litres plays 315, enough, says Rolls, for four sets of golf clubs.
Familiar mill, stronger shell, stiffer chassis
Powering the car is the same 6.75-litre V12 you’ll find throughout Rolls’ current model range. With 453bhp and 531lb ft, it’s got no more power or torque to call upon than a standard Phantom, and carrying a substantial aluminium roof, it’s only 30kg lighter than a Drophead at 2590kg. All the same, however, this should be the most agile, responsive and precise Rolls yet.The Phantom Coupe will dispatch the 0-62mph sprint in 5.6sec, four tenths of a second quicker than the Phantom limo we road-tested in 2003. Its top speed is governed to the same 155mph maximum as the standard Phantom. Most impressive of all though is that at a continental 100mph cruise, the Coupe’s characteristic power reserve dial – something you’ll only ever find on a Rolls-Royce – shows that 90 per cent of the V12’s potential is untouched.But the real work has gone into making this car handle better than a standard Rolls. The Coupe has the same continuously adjusting air suspension system as the rest of the Phantom family, but tuned for greater response and handling accuracy. It has higher spring rates, stiffer rear dampers, a thicker rear anti-roll bar and less strongly-assisted steering. It also has a braking system tuned for better pedal feel.
Only on a Rolls-Royce
The Phantom Coupe’s cabin is a close match for the Drophead’s. Customers are able to chose between nine different colours and grades of leather upholstery and six different wood veneers, each of the latter being specially selected from forests worldwide and crafted by hand in Rolls’ wood shop. And if those options aren’t wide-ranging enough, you can chose from 44,000 other exterior colours, specify your own one-off leather pattern or colour, or even select an unusual wood veneer via the company’s Bespoke programme.The Coupe’s stand-out interior feature is its starlight headlining – an array of hundreds of fibre optic lights woven into the material roof of the cabin, which can be brightened or dimmed at the owner’s behest. It’s an option on the car, but definitely one from the ‘must-have’ section.Also seen on the 101EX concept that fathered the Phantom Coupe were the brushed steel bonnet crest and A-pillar surrounds, and both will be offered as options on the road car.
So who buys a two-door Rolls?
Goodwood expects to build around 200 Phantom Coupes per year: marginally fewer than Phantom Drophead, but thanks to the flexibility of its production system, the volumes can shift to meet demand. So at a little under £300k, who will be buying them? “Our customer research shows that 50 per cent of our customers for the Phantom saloon have also ordered a Drophead. We expect a similar situation with the Coupe,” explains Robertson, alluding to the strong possibility of the existence of three-Roller families. “It’s a Phantom for a slightly different mood or occasion.”“And it’s a myth that Rolls buyers aren’t owner-drivers,” he goes on. “In the US and the UK, 90 per cent of Phantom owners actually drive the car themselves. In the Middle-east and Asia, that proportion is not quite so high, but we’re confident that there’s already a strong demand for a driver’s Rolls-Royce, and that it will grow when the Coupe launches.”