Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Car Review - The world's ULTIMATE convertible

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Striving for perfection saw Rolls Royce in 2007 create the world's ultimate convertible, this Phantom Drophead Coupe. If you have the means, it's an unashamed indulgence - and a highly impressive one. This car's creators claimed it to be a less formal interpretation of classic Rolls-Royce design than its four-door stablemate and when you inspect the design, it's easy to see what they meant. Pretty much nothing but the engine is shared with the Phantom saloon, with every exterior panel new as part of carefully considered proportions more suited to the shorter body. Shunning the trend prevalent in the early Noughties for folding metal tops not suited to elegant looks or picnic boots, Rolls brought us with this car the largest fabric convertible top yet made, five-layered, acoustically-tuned and cashmere-lined to fit like a bespoke suit as it electrically folds behind the cockpit in around 25 seconds. Slipping behind the wheel requires a big step over the wide sills and is something you feel awkward about doing in anything other than a tailored-made suit so carefully chosen is the wood, leather, chrome and brushed steel. But once you're there, the excellence is awe-inspiring. Over 350 man hours is invested in every car, with each using 18 hides for its 450 separate pieces of leather. Each of the 60 pieces of veneer is 40 layers thick, glued onto aluminium and finished by hand, part of over 2400 slivers of timber used in every car. Rolls Royce's woodshop team would have spent up to a month preparing, matching, shaping and finishing each car's set.

Here, as you would expect, is an experience to savour. The 100EX concept car this model was developed from featured a V16 engine that made its under-bonnet architecture as jaw-dropping as the price, but production models satisfied themselves instead with the same BMW-based 6.75-litre 453bhp V12 engine used by the Phantom saloon. Still, it is, to use a very Rolls Royce word, 'sufficient'. At 100mph indeed, the power reserve gauge that replaces the usual rev counter indicates that around 90% of power remains untapped. Discussion of performance figures seems somehow vulgar in a car of this kind but if you're interested, sixty is silkily dispatched from rest in 5.7s courtesy of 720Nm of torque that rolls back the horizon until a speed limiter gently bridles your progress at 150mph.

You'll want al fresco motoring whenever possible of course, in which state the kind of structural wobble that afflicts even pricey convertibles has been ironed out at source thanks to the astonishing body stiffness that has produced the substantial 2.6-tonne weight. Yet the ride is smooth and supple, with imperfect surfaces drifting unnoticed beneath your wheels. A lower centre of gravity, a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a shorter wheelbase than the Phantom saloon means that, thanks to prodigious grip, you can even throw this car around a little if you really must. It's just that you wouldn't really want to. Better perhaps, to use it for Sloane Street cruising, for which a dignified drivepast is made easier by depressing the 'L' button on the transmission tunnel. This holds the 6-speed gearbox in the lowest appropriate ratio to help maintain a constant low speed as you glide along past the less fortunate. You wouldn't expect much to g wrong on a car of this calibre - and apparently, not much does. In April 2012, Rolls Royce issued a recall to deal with reports that a few early versions of this model had engine oil from the brake vacuum pump entering the brake vacuum line, resulting in a reduction in powered braking assistance. Make sure that the car you're looking at had the required fix implemented for this. Otherwise, just check he usual things - scratches on the expensive alloys, blemishes on the leather trim and so on. Insist of course on a full service history. (approx based on a 2010 Phantom Drophead Coupe) An air filter is around £16, as is an oil filter. A spark plug will cost you £3-£7. A thermostat is around £110, while an ignition coil is around £33. A starter motor is around £530. Front brake pads sit in the £30-£38 bracket. Sold out before it ever turned a wheel, the Phantom Drophead Coupe's success was always assured. There is, after all, a depth of engineering to this car that's massively impressive, fusing as it does the best technology its German brand owners can serve up with meticulous, almost dementedly detailed British craftsmanship. It's big, it's rather brash but above all, it's brilliant.

Ownership of this car confirms not only your arrival as part of the wealthy elite but your establishment there. It's an automobile across which resonates the maxim of company founder Sir Henry Royce - 'Strive for perfection in everything you do'. That perfection comes in many shapes and forms - and this is one of them.
Rolls-Royce (Роллс-Ройс)
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