Rolls Royce: the name is instantly recognisable by almost everyone as the motor car which epitomises Britishness in styling and luxury. Yet few folk, including yours truly, ever have the chance to drive one, save for a few captains of industry, footballers and a handful of other select and well-heeled individuals.
The opportunity to drive a Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe on a few laps of Millbrook’s challenging Alpine route recently was therefore one which could not be refused!
First impressions of the British behemoth were indeed of its size. At 5.6 metres – around 18 ½ feet – long, and just under 2 metres wide, the Roller is certainly a big beast. Perhaps just a tad too big for the average supermarket car park bay then, albeit ideal for the hallowed ground of the Chairman’s parking slot at the typical FTSE 100 companies Head Office. Hard to miss, too, particularly in the test car’s eye-catching Purple Silk Metallic finish, complete with brushed steel bonnet.
That said, a close inspection of the outside of the Goodwood Giant revealed stunning and faultless attention to detail – as indeed should be the case given the test car’s £349,725 on-the-road price. The more you look, the more eye-catching details you discover, from the subtly uplit Flying Lady adorning the bonnet, to the discreet RR logo etched into the headlamp glasses, to the RR logos in the centre of the 21” polished wheels which are cleverly counterweighted to ensure that the logo remains vertical and readable at all speeds. Now that’s attention to detail!
The sheer size of the Phantom Coupe makes the presence of only two doors surprising, however opening one of those rear hinged so-called “suicide” doors reveals an equally stunning interior. Again, a bit in-your-face on this particular car, but of course every Roller is effectively bespoke to its customer, so if the test car’s Arctic White trim and Marine White veneer dashboard are not quite to your taste, then the companies craftsmen are more than happy to build a bespoke car to your exact desired specification.
The impeccable craftsmanship continues inside the car, with fabulous detailing everywhere. Interestingly, the current fad for small diameter, thick-rimmed steering wheels seems to have passed Rolls Royce by completely, for the Coupe is pointed down the road via a surprisingly large diameter and thin-rimmed wheel, with almost a vintage feel to it. The LED “Starlight” headlining option on the test car is a matter of taste, although certainly unusual.
Firing up, the 6.6 litre V12 is perhaps a little noisier than expected, although far from intrusive, and subtly hinting at the 460ps and 720NM of torque awaiting the drivers command. On the move, the view along that long bonnet topped off with the “Spirit of Ecstasy” can only be described as awesome! Given the 2,580kg kerb weight – almost as much as two Ford Focuses – as well as the need to provide the occupants with a cossetting ride, you might expect the trade-off to be soggy handling. However, the Phantom proves surprisingly agile, responding well to steering inputs, its size and weight only really becoming noticeable with enthusiastic driving, with a sensation that the car was leaning hard on its front outside wheel – as of course it was doing – although never feeling in danger of understeering off into the undergrowth. That handling was not accompanied by a bone-shaking ride either: Millbrook’s Alpine route is deliberately designed to unsettle any car by providing some of the worst road surface conditions which can be found anywhere. The Roller, however, shrugged off such nasties as hard-edged transverse ridges at the apex to tricky corners with disdain, almost gliding over them with no more than a subdued thump from the wheels.
In normal driving, gearshifts are undetectable and inaudible – much of course as you would expect. Pushing the accelerator into kickdown, however, produced a purposeful growl as the Phantom blasted forwards to demonstrate its 5.6 second 0-60mph capability. Impressive stuff for such a big car!
All too soon, it was time to return the Phantom to the Rolls Royce team: another ambition ticked off, with a highly impressive sampling of the very best of automotive craftsmanship. And the best thing is – it’s British!
Interested? Find out more here: https://www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com/en-GB/phantom-overview.html