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First drive: Phantom opera rolls on with Coupe

Hard-top: Two-door Phantom costs $90,000 less than its soft-top sibling.

Rolls-Royce lands its $1.1 million Phantom Coupe in Australia, and we've driven it

28 Oct 2008

THE poster car for extreme capitalism is, so far, immune to the global financial meltdown. Despite having two fewer doors than the regular Phantom sedan, the new Phantom Coupe costs an extra $185,000 for a grand total of $1.1 million.

Australians have already placed orders for three Coupes and Rolls-Royce expects to confirm two more very soon. That will take care of this year’s allocation of Coupes, with eight more available next year.

Rolls-Royce introduced the ultimate symbol of affluence to a select group of wealthy potential customers at special dealer functions last week in Perth and Melbourne and is holding another event in Sydney this week.

The Phantom Coupe is more or less a Phantom convertible, which is officially known as the Drophead Coupe, with a solid roof.

Rolls-Royce will never say it, but the car has a slightly sportier tune than both the standard model and the convertible.

The new model is pushing the boundaries of the ultra-traditional brands in other ways as it is also available with new "Starlight Headlining", which is available as an option for an eye-popping $18,600.

Kitsch or cool depending on your taste, this feature consists of 1600 fibre optics built into the headlining to simulate a starry night sky inside the car.

The Coupe uses a modified version of the regular Phantom’s aluminium space frame, with extra strengthening designed for use with the convertible.

Thanks to the fact it has a fixed roof, the Coupe is stiffer than the drop-top and Rolls-Royce claims it is the most torsionally rigid car to wear the RR badge.

The Phantom Coupe shares the front-end styling of the Drophead Coupe, which is different to the regular sedan. Instead of the bolt-upright grille, the one used for the Coupe and convertible leans back a bit to give the car more of a performance look.

They also feature LED light strips that sit above the main headlights, which look like the automotive equivalent of eyes and eyebrows. The side profile reveals the Coupe is a far sleeker car than the regular Phantom, which has four doors and a rather upright C-pillar.

Of course, this is to maximise cabin room for the rear passengers. As Rolls-Royce says, many customers who buy the Phantom will be driven, while those who purchase the Phantom Coupe will want to drive it themselves.

Like the convertible, the Coupe’s wheelbase is 250mm shorter than the regular Phantom, which has enabled Rolls-Royce engineers to make the car a bit more nimble than the standard car.

50 center imageRolls-Royce parent BMW likes its cars to have a 50/50 weight balance and the Phantom Coupe comes within a smidgeon of achieving that goal with a 49/51 split. Applying its own spin, Rolls-Royce says the slight rear bias “maximises straight line acceleration and traction.” The Coupe runs self-levelling air suspension which can be raised for when one must traverse difficult terrain.

Rolls-Royce has fitted the Coupe with stiffer springs and upgraded damping rates, as well as a stronger rear anti-roll bar to sharpen up its handling, which is not something you usually associate with a car from Goodwood.

The steering assistance has also been modified in the interest of giving it more road feel.

The Coupe sits on massive 21-inch rims that sit on run-flat tyres. Rolls-Royce now uses the same style run-flats as BMW cars, which feature thicker side walls.

This is in contrast to the first Phantom, which used the Michelin Pax run-flat system that included a rubber layer around the wheel hub for extra support in the event of a puncture.

The Coupe is lighter than the other Phantoms, but still tips the scales at a festively plump 2590kg. When you have to arrest that kind of bulk in a hurry, it is best to have rather potent anchors.

The Coupe has twin-piston callipers at the front that latch onto huge 374mm discs and single-piston calliper that grab 370mm discs at the rear.

Just like the other Phantoms, the Coupe is powered by a 6.7-litre naturally aspirated V12 that generates a healthy 338kW of power and 720Nm of torque. An amazing 75 per cent of this power is available at just 1000rpm.

The meatiness of the engine allows the big Roller to overcome its bulk and blast from 0-100km/h in 5.8 seconds. It should be able to achieve a mind-numbing top speed, but has been limited to 250km/h like most other vehicles that are part of the BMW Group.

The Coupe also uses the same six-speed ZF automatic gearbox as other Phantoms, which is controlled by a steering column mounted shifter.

While the convertible is strictly a two-seater, the Coupe can carry four people in extreme comfort.

Its boot is fairly modest, with a maximum volume of 350 litres. Like the convertible, the Coupe has a split tailgate. This means the bootlid rises as normal, but the body section folds down to provide a bench seat.

The doors are rear-hinged and can close automatically at the touch of a button.

Inside, almost all surfaces are covered by wood, leather or metal. To give an idea of the attention to detail, the woodgrain panels are made up of 14 layers of wood and aluminium.

There is a roller ball on the dashboard and another in the centre console which is essentially a posh version of iDrive. This can be hidden when not in use.

Those worried about getting caught in the rain will also be relieved to know that the Coupe also features Rolls-Royce umbrellas, with carbon-fibre stalks, that slide into holes located in the A-pillar which are revealed when you open the doors.

Rolls-Royce Phantom pricing:
Phantom sedan (a) $915,000
Phantom EWB (a) $1,095,000
Phantom Coupe (a) $1,100,000
Phantom Drophead Coupe (a) $1,190,000

Read more:

First look: Rolls to unveil Phantom Coupe at Geneva

Rolls-Royce extends Phantom's appeal

Phantom Drophead Coupe a smash hit

Rolls-Royce loses its head

Flip-top Roller close to 100EX

Drophead gorgeous: New Roller flagship hits Oz

The Phantom menace for Mercedes

First look: BMW rolls out the Phantom

Read GoAuto’s drive impressions of the Rolls-Royce Phantom sedan

GoAuto can help you buy a new Phantom

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