R-R Phantom Coupé

The Fourth Phantom has arrived.

The long-awaited Coupé completes the sixth–generation Phantom family, which includes the Phantom, Phantom Extended Wheelbase and the Phantom Drophead Coupé. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars began production of the motorcar last summer.

This isn’t just a cosmetically different version, though, of the lead model. Designed for those who want to drive and not be driven, for whom the journey is the joy, the Coupé is the enthusiast’s Phantom — dynamic, agile and just a little rakish, incorporating what the legendary British carmaker calls “subtle but significant modifications.”

“The Coupé is contemporary, cutting-edge, muscular and beautifully proportioned, exuding power and style but distinctly driver oriented,” says Brad Roosma, sales manager for Rolls-Royce Motorcars Scottsdale, 7111 E. Chauncey Lane. The agency, just off the Loop 101 in north Phoenix, has Coupés, for order, at $423,525.

Debuted at the Salon International de l’Automobile in Geneva, Switzerland, in March 2008, the Phantom Coupé follows the company’s experimental 101EX, the hand-built prototype from 2006. Following positive reaction worldwide, and strong pre-orders, Rolls announced a year later that it would produce the new vehicle, with its distinctive rear-hinged coach-doors and topped with the R-R signature Spirit of Ecstasy.

No need to change this great touring car’s drive: Power derives from the Phantom’s direct-injected 6.75-litre, 48-valve engine (with variable valve lift and timing), producing, effortlessly, 453 brake horsepower @ 5350 rpm and 531 foot pounds of torque @ 3500 rpm. Maximizing low-end thrust, the BMW-crafted V12 delivers 75 per cent of its power at just 1000 rpm.

At the same time, reaching 100 mph (of course you won’t do this), the Coupé’s power reserve dial notes that 90 per cent of the engine’s power remains untapped. Top speed is limited to 155 mph, but arriving is the exhilaration: the Coupé accelerates 0-60 mph in just 5.6 seconds — particularly impressive for a vehicle weighing in, unladen, at 5,710 pounds.

This power is transferred to the asphalt by means of a capable six-speed automatic, with a 3.46 final-drive ratio that efficiently balances power with economy. Although the 11:1-compression block is best run on premium, the capable engine will still deliver its power from lower-grade fuels. The 100-litre fuel tank allows for the long drives, giving a range of approximately 400 miles.

Differences from the Phantom, though, make this the luxury car for those who love to drive. Dynamism and drama, agility and refinement, key this extraordinary two-door.

“We could have simply bolted a hard-top roof to the Drophead in order to make the Phantom Coupé, says Ian Cameron, design-team leader for Rolls-Royce. This, however, would have been a faux pas for a company known for impeccably good manners: “The Coupé and the Drophead are two distinct cars — with different personalities and specific performance characteristics.”

The Coupé rides like a Rolls but with just a bit of rigidity and firmness to underline its sports/touring character: You sense the road surface but in a refined, civilized manner. Stiffer rear dampers, self-leveling air suspension, modified spring rates, a thicker rear anti-roll bar and steering tuning optimize precision and control.

The Phantom Coupé’s lightweight and rigid structure, comprised of box sections of aluminum, is the foundation for both its torsional rigidity and low weight — and its safety. Crumple zones absorb frontal impacts, directing the force into chassis members, while, on the side, interior accident intrusion is minimized through double-skinned floor construction, side sills and integral side-impact bars in each door.

Adding to this stability, the front double-wishbone suspension, with a hydraulic mount, minimizes vibrations through the steering wheel. What’s more, the multi-link rear suspension gives increased ride comfort, incorporating Phantom’s anti-lift and anti-dive technology for stability under heavy acceleration and braking. Outstanding grip means that the dynamic stability control (DSC) is less likely to be activated under tight cornering, providing more control for you.

Modified Servotronic assistance for the steering adds to the enthusiasm. Even a slightly thicker, hand-stitched leather steering wheel intensifies the driving experience. On the steering wheel, a sport button activates the new gearbox program in which each gear holds longer, increasing the rate of acceleration. Kick-down is faster, too, through enhanced accelerator pedal response.

Additionally, the wheelbase is slightly shorter than that of the Phantom’s for greater agility. The 49:51 weight ratio ensures balance while maximizing acceleration and traction. The Coupé puts this power to the pavement on 21-inch Goodyear tires with run-flat capability, sitting on seven-spoke aluminum or two different styles of forged aluminum rims. Those run-flats get you out of possible trouble and on to your desired tire store through their capacity to move an additional 100 miles at speeds of up to 50 mph. Visible tailpipes provide a fitting ending to this eminent driver’s vehicle.

As with all Rolls-Royce models, braking is swift and assured through 14.7-inch front ventilated disc brakes and 14.6 inch rear versions. Front calipers are twin piston alloy, while those at the rear are single piston. The latest anti-lock and emergency brake-assist systems activate automatically in emergency situations.

In addition to the steering wheel, the Coupé’s interior offers other model-specific features. For one, because of the unique seating, it incorporates larger pieces of leather than the Phantom’s, making the selection and pigmentation of hides another indicator of the craftsmanship that has made Rolls-Royce a standard since the first Silver Ghost graced English roads more than a century ago.

This hand-picked leather complements the rich wood grains and chrome of a sumptuous Phantom cabin, both beautiful and beautifully functional. The analog clock sits in book-matched veneered panel which hides the media screen — revealed only when requested. Woods available for the Coupé include Zebrano, Elm Cluster, Mahogany Flare, Rosewood and Walnut Burr. The veneers are lacquered and polished to showcase the individual grain.

Traditional Rolls-Royce features reiterate long-loved musical metaphors: “organ stop” controls for the multi-zone climate control system and “violin keys” for other functions.

The music itself emanates from a Lexicon LOGIC7TM sound system with 15 metal-matrix speakers. Its 420-watt, nine-channel amplifier powers two sub-woofers fitted beneath the seats and 13 mid-range and tweeter arrays optimally placed around the car. As hip as it is well pedigreed, the Coupé can be ordered with iPod connectivity as an alternative to a standard six-CD changer. The optional television camera, to provide viewing of the rear of the car, is also a must for urban drivers.

A lounge seat in the rear offers intimacy, as does the standard boulevard lighting. But be sure to opt for the starlighting, whose fiber-optics transform the headliner into a stellar night sky. On the exterior, Rolls has made available a palette of nine hand-finished paint colors and can be ordered, just as with the Drophead Coupé, with a brushed-steel hood and A-pillar surround.

Still, if desired, you can select from 44,000 different hues through the Rolls-Royce Bespoke program, which provides for color individuation as well as for other interior features.

“‘No’ is not in the Rolls-Royce vocabulary,” Brad says. “The Phantom Coupé is not really a production vehicle at all. It’s a legendary motorcar you realize to match your dreams. The only limitation is your imagination.”

Rolls-Royce Motorcars Scottsdale — 480.538.4342 www.scottsdalerollsroyce.com