Rolls-Royce is today wishing its customers and its devotee fans a happy new year by releasing the first official details and pictures of its first new production car for three years, the £300,000, V12-engined Phantom Convertible. Autocar.co.uk has exclusive photographs of the car, and its own insights into its design and construction – and you can read all about them in Autocar next Wednesday.
The new Rolls is revealed in exclusive detail in our gallery – and it’s easily the most sumptuously luxurious and grand convertible on the market, from its teak rear decking reminiscent of a vintage America’s Cup yacht, to its “discreet” front-facing parking camera. Rolls’ own marketing blurb even describes the car as “the very essence of automotive affability”.
The car has not been long in coming, based as it is on the V16-powered convertible concept shown in 2004 – the 100EX. This model will be unveiled at Detroit in a few days’ time, but has been under construction in numbers at Goodwood for months. Chief executive Ian Robertson says the car will be launched around the world between now and April, with the UK as the first market.
Rolls designers and engineers are adamant that this is far more than a Phantom with the top removed. “Designing without compromise meant we had to start again,” says chief designer Ian Cameron. “We had a chance to think about the very nature of convertible motoring, and what it meant to Rolls-Royce. Besides, the drophead has two exterior features unique to luxurious open cars, a 22-piece teak rear deck (a piece of boatbuilder’s art which requires periodical oiling) and an unpainted brushed-steel bonnet, which is a homage to the milled-from-billet aluminium bonnet of the 100EX prototype. Under the skin, the Phantom uses a substantial amount of the saloon’s mighty aluminium tubular spaceframe, with lots of reinforcement of the sills and extra strengthening around the rear bulkhead. The car uses front doors which open at the leading edge (Rolls-Royce calls them coach-doors, the rest of the world, suicide doors) and apart from allowing easy accesss, especially to the rear, they also permit the car’s mighty A-pillar to run unhindered downwards to connect with the main chassis members, which makes the windscreen frame an important part of the car’s roll-over protection
The drophead uses the same front double wishbone suspension and rear five-link independent system as the Phantom saloon, but its rates have been adjusted. The brakes are the same mammoth ventilated discs, 374mm diameter up front and 370mm at the back, behind 21-inch wheels and Michelin run-flat tyres. It’s 250mm shorter in the wheelbase than the saloon, and 225mm shorter overall, thanks to smaller overhangs, but the body’s reduced length has little impact on cabin comfort. The rear seating for two is still sumptuous (though rather too open to the elements for seriously fast driving) and entry/exit are amazingly easy through the revolutionary doors. Steve Cropley
Get the full report on Rolls’ opulent new Phantom Convertible in Autocar magazine on 3 January