First Drive Review: 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2004 to 2011.
By Tony Swan of Car and Driver
You've heard the old maxim about not being able to afford something if you have to ask its price, but the fact is some people do ask that question about Rolls-Royce cars, including the new Phantom coupe. The difference between those people and mere mortals who pale at the notion of a $405,000 automobile is that they're asking because they're ready to write a check.
That scenario is more likely in the U.S., according to Rolls marketing types. Although part of the Rolls allure is being able to personalize the car in excruciating detail — 44,000 possible colors, for example — it's not uncommon for U.S. buyers to walk in and pop for whatever happens to be on the showroom floor — no waiting, drive it home.
Sporty is always a relative term, particularly when it's applied to a coupe that's well over 18 feet long and weighs close to three tons. So the sporty relativity here is to the other Phantoms — the sedans, standard and long, and the drophead coupe. Power, furnished by a 6.7-liter BMW V-12, is ample: 453 horsepower, 531 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel all that mass to 60 mph in well under six seconds, according to Rolls.
Beyond that, the coupe drives smaller than its specs suggest, the suspension is a little stiffer than that of the other Phantoms, and the steering is surprisingly quick and tactile, with good on-center response. Still, this is not a car that begs to be flogged through a series of switchbacks, and it doesn't take much to make the giant 21-inch Goodyears howl in anguish.
However, performance, while welcome, isn't the key Rolls purchase motivator. These are the ne plus ultra of prestige rides — perhaps you knew this? — and they can't be confused with anything else. Based on the 2006 Rolls 101EX concept car, the coupe has classic proportions, spiced by those big rear-hinged portals (we do not say suicide doors) and optional clear-coat aluminum hood. If flaunting is the objective, here's your Lord Flauntleroy.
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