4 March 2005

Rolls-Royce’s stretched Phantom limousine is being introduced to the show-going public this week. Seven months after Autocar published Rolls’ plan to build an extended version of its luxury saloon, the maker has unveiled this longer Phantom at the Geneva show. It will enter production at Goodwood later this year, hand-built to customer requirements, and is likely to find most homes in the Middle East, in Asia and in Japan.

The Phantom’s extruded aluminium spaceframe – the largest ever constructed, according to Rolls-Royce – has been the key to its successful structural adaptation. An extra 250mm of body length has been added behind the car’s B-pillar, where the front and rear doors meet, simply by casting longer aluminium pieces. There has been no loss of body rigidity, as would have been the case if the car had been cut, extended and welded. Outwardly, the only panels that differ on the longer car are the roof and rear doors; everything else is carried over. Inside the cabin, though, it’s a different story: the extended wheelbase provides even more space for the addition of bespoke features ‘limited only by the imagination of the customer.’

The stretched Phantom is likely to come at a £40k premium over its shorter range-mate, which means it will be priced from around £255,000. It will be joined by the road-going 100 EX convertible in 2007.

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Change is coming to Mercedes’ small-car range, and this new B-Class is the first taste of it.

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