Motoring expert Chris Walsh test drives the new model…
Do the words “Majestic charm and unwavering dignity” describe the world’s most desired ultra-luxurious brand or the glorious West Sussex countryside they’re built in? Well, both as it goes. The decision 12 years ago to produce Rolls-Royce Motor Cars from a little green patch of the South Downs has easily become the most heart-warming pairing in the history of motorcar manufacturing.
Relatively speaking, after just a handful of years the marriage is clearly working as the brand is flourishing and global sales are steadily increasing. If you ask me (an unashamedly seasoned driver of all things Rolls-Royce) the magic that is contained within the ancient landscape appears to have filtrated through to all but the most un-persuadable elements of design and production.
That brings us to the Phantom Drophead Coupe – a car that, like the hills that surround it, has been crafted by people of undeniable tradition and grace. The Wraith and the Ghost already have a handle on the modern side of the business and they comfortably fulfil their own distinct requirements. But for those who are after the full Rolls-Royce experience, there is only one car you should take.
The Drophead Coupe could be straight out of the 1920s, 30s or even 40s at times. Well appointed details like the wire-spoke steering wheel, the ships telegraph style transmission display, the simple dashboard electronics or the well-oiled tactile controls underpin the fact that tradition is high on the agenda. But don’t be misled. Like all Rolls-Royces, the car is hiding a swathe of modern gadgetry that you will probably never notice – or want to notice – behind a counter of wood or a skein of wool.
It is important to know that “…the modern user is now provided with an interface that has a re-designed multi-media controller and the satellite navigation system has been fully updated with functions that include composite route planning…” Thankfully, at the press of a button, these can be made to disappear behind a beautifully handcrafted wood veneer, which is much more interesting.
The waftability is still there. This has obviously long been part of the Rolls-Royce lexicon, with models across all ages being renowned for their ride. A new 8-speed automatic gearbox and rear differential perfectly complement the lovely V12 direct injection engine, which improves fuel consumption by 10 per cent on the combined cycle and lowers CO2 emissions all the while.
At a glance…
Model: Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe
Priced (as driven): £298,740 (£348,595)
Powerplant: 6.75-litre V12
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Power: 453 bhp
Torque: 720 Nm
Weight: 2630 kg
0-60 mph: 5.6 Seconds
Top Speed: 149 mph (governed)
Combined MPG: 19.1 mpg
CO2 emission: 347 g/km
Images: Tristan Ware