The most important new Rolls-Royce in a decade is coming closer to a road-going reality, and these are the pictures that prove it. According to Autocar’s information, you’re looking at one of the first full-bodied prototypes for the car known internally at Rolls' Goodwood HQ as ‘RR4’ - the firm's all-new smaller saloon model due to go on sale in 2010.
A Phantom that will fit on your driveway
Our spies have exposed the new smallest Rolls-Royce in its entirety for the first time. These shots, snapped recently in Munich, show how faithfully the new car will adopt the Phantom’s design language (reference the car’s thick C-pillar and suicide rear doors). However, it’s also significantly lower and shorter than a Phantom, has a shorter bonnet, and a much less upright grille, than its bigger sibling.Rolls-Royce’s plans to build RR4 have been public knowledge since the Paris motor show in 2006, when CEO Ian Robertson announced them on the eve of first press day. Construction is already underway at the firm’s Goodwood factory to expand production facilities and increase capacity in preparation for the new car. RR4 should be in showrooms by the end of the decade and, priced from around £175,000, will make entry to one of the most prestigious owners’ clubs in the motoring world almost £50,000 cheaper.
BMW mechanicals; special engines
Unlike the Phantom, which has its own extruded aluminium monocoque skeleton, RR4 will have a steel body structure shared, in many respects, with the new BMW 7-series. As Autocar understands it, the new BMW’s platform is a hybrid of aluminium and steel, and is flexible enough to allow Rolls-Royce to give RR4 a wheelbase, roof height, bonnet height and track widths all of its own.Various chassis, cabin, drivetrain and electrics components will also be shared with the new Seven, but according to one RR source, they’ll be confined wherever possible to those components the owner can’t see.One area where Rolls won’t look to save costs is under RR4’s bonnet. The car will have at least one, and possibly two multicylinder powerplants that, like the Phantom’s 6.75-litre V12, will be exclusive to Rolls-Royce. Developments of the 407bhp 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 from the BMW X6, or the 441bhp 6.0-litre V12 from the current 760i, are possibilities. Neither would be allowed to eclipse the Phantom’s 453bhp and generous 531lb ft of torque though, in order to maintain the brand’s model hierarchy.One company source told us that Rolls-Royce high-ups are even warming towards the idea of a diesel-engined Rolls-Royce. “It would have all the important characteristics of the Rolls-Royce driving experience,” he said – “i.e. plenty of low-range torque and ‘waftability’.”“What’s more, the old-money buyers who might have been put off by the idea of a diesel engine are becoming a much less important part of our customer base.”