2009 Phantom New Car Test Drive
For 2008, Rolls-Royce has added a significant new model to its range of Phantom sedans and limousines. This one is the first convertible to be built from the ground up since BMW took over Rolls-Royce and built a brand new factory in Goodwood, England, to build them.
It's also the first Rolls-Royce convertible in history to be priced at more than $400,000.
It's a different kind of convertible in terms of design details, closely related to the overall look of the Phantom sedans, but worlds apart in many ways. It is intended to occupy the market segment vacated by the old Corniche line of convertibles, and carries the Phantom name quite deliberately to relate it to the new BMW-run company and erase memories of the old Rolls-Royce.
The Phantom Drophead Coupe comes to market almost intact from the 100EX roadster concept car that the company first showed in the spring of 2004, a car designed to celebrate the company's centennial, using a 9-liter V16 engine. After it was shown around the world, the clamor from customers and the media for a production version of the 100EX was so loud the company went ahead with it. The giant engine didn't survive the transfer to production, but almost every piece of the 100EX concept, inside and out, has made it into the production convertible.
All Phantoms are handbuilt from the ground up around a tremendously strong welded aluminum space frame that is accurate to 0.004 inches in every single dimension. If there were six-star crash ratings for front and side impact, we're sure this car would qualify.
With this ultra-luxury car, the customer buys all the Rolls-Royce hallmarks: hand-built craftsmanship, exclusivity, head-turning style and size, and power aplenty. As for its market competition, well, there simply isn't any.
There will be only on Phantom Drophead Coupe model. The bespoke nature of the car and the factory option list for this car make it a virtual certainty that no two cars will be built alike.
There are nine exterior paint colors, none of which is shared with the Phantom sedan or limousine. The windshield surround and A-pillars can be painted body color, or made of stainless steel, buyer's choice. There are six contrasting hood colors plus stainless steel. There are ten interior leather colors to choose from. The interior veneers include elm, oak, ash burr, mahogany, rosewood, and piano black.
Options are few and expensive. If you want the stainless steel hood, you have to take the teak convertible top cover with it, for a mere $17,000. The 21-inch, nine-spoke wheel and run-flat tire package is $3000. Other than those two packages, the Drophead Coupe comes with every conceivable comfort and convenience item there is, including a Rolls-Royce umbrella hidden away in each of the two front door frames.
The warranty is four years with unlimited mileage. The Phantom Drophead also comes with free full service for four years and unlimited mileage, Rolls-Royce Assist (road side assistance and concierge service) for four years, and a free subscription to Sirius satellite radio for the life of the car.
Safety features include ABS with emergency brake-force distribution, traction control, and electronic stability control. A forward-looking wide-angle TV camera helps the driver see around corners, useful in big-city parking garages.