What is the Rolls-Royce Phantom?
This is, arguably, the most indulgent car in the world. The Drophead is also that rare thing: a Roller that’s actually driven by its owners. Unlike the Phantom saloon, which carries 90% of owners in its rear seats, the Drophead coupé demands that you slide behind the wheel and drive yourself.
And what a drive. Whether you are parking at a marina on the Cap d’Antibes or going for a nip and tuck in Harley Street, the four-seat convertible is a statement quite unlike any other on the road. Doubtless it will accompany a fleet of other models at the owner’s selection of homes. So the Phantom Drophead coupé, at nearly £300,000, has been designed with the simple objective of letting the world see how wealthy its owner is as they go about the serious business of topping up their suntan.
Rolls-Royce claims the Phantom coupé and Drophead coupé models are the most sporting of its family. However, such claims are relative, as the job of any Roller is to lower the driver’s heart rate, not to raise it.
The first clue to this is apparent when the driver casts their eye over the instruments. In place of a rev counter is a power reserve dial, which shows how much – or, rather, how little – of the available power you are using; there is no red line in sight.
The 6.75-litre V12 engine is near-silent in its operation — a pussycat’s purring would be more audible — and it has sufficient performance to get the Drophead coupé to where it needs to be without a fuss. The shifts of its eight-speed transmission are barely perceptible and the air suspension combines with sumptuous seats to give a ride that we can only presume is as soothing as a £60,000 Hastens bed.
The thin rim of the steering wheel and generous helping of power assistance hint at how you drive this opulent sunseeker — by the tips of your fingers. The handling is safe and assured, but not really what any keen driver could consider sporting.
The crowning glory of the driving experience is to lower the huge fabric hood, luxuriate in the surroundings of an interior hand-finished by true craftsmen and feel the sun on the back of your neck.
This is not a car; it is an indulgence. The huge door handles feel like sculptures. The doors open out towards the rear, immediately creating a piece of theatre. Then there’s the car’s sheer size; you must physically step up into the Drophead coupé’s cabin — a Range Rover owner would recognise the sensation.
When you do climb aboard, it becomes clear how Rolls-Royce can justify the cost of the car. There is an air of sophistication, of elegance and craftsmanship that money can rarely buy. Only a Bentley can compare.
Of particular note is the tail section. With the roof lowered, yacht-like decking is exposed. Then there are the little details, such as seat runners dressed in chrome to hide them from the eye. As for the dashboard, it is clear, ergonomically sound and so beautifully finished that it’s fit to be hung as a work of art.
The one to buy
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead coupé
- £292,600 (correct at first publication)
- 6749cc, V12
- 453bhp @ 5350rpm
- 531 lb ft @ 3500rpm
- 8-speed automatic
- 0-62mph in 5.8sec
- Top speed:
- Road tax band:
- L 5612mm, W 1987mm, H 1566mm