Like its sedan and convertible siblings, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe occupies a niche at the very top of the automotive food chain. The size, prestige and sheer presence of this fixed-roof luxury cruiser are second-to-none. Driving one is like piloting your own four-wheeled parade -- and since Rolls-Royce drivers tend to be people of interest to paparazzi, chances are you'll also attract a parade of gawkers and shutterbugs wherever you go.
The new Phantom Coupe shares its 6.7-liter V12 with the other Rolls-Royce cars, and it is essentially a hardtop version of the Phantom Drophead Coupe. However, Rolls-Royce has gone to some lengths to ensure that the driving experience will be a bit edgier in the Phantom Coupe. Stiffer rear dampers and modified spring rates firm up the suspension without noticeably affecting ride quality, and a thicker rear antiroll bar is said to reduce body lean in hard cornering. The steering wheel rim is slightly thicker and supposedly offers more road feel, and a new Sport button on the wheel itself activates a more aggressive transmission mode. These tweaks don't exactly turn the Phantom Coupe into a sports car, but they do make for a more driver-centric experience than what is offered by either the sedan (which seems likely to be driven by a chauffeur) or the convertible.
Along for the ride are features familiar from the Drophead Coupe, including rear-hinged "coach" doors that make ingress or egress a downright graceful affair, and a two-passenger rear seat described by Rolls as "a curved sofa." The Phantom sedan contributes to the Phantom Coupe its optional full-length "Starlight Headliner," which incorporates hundreds of tiny fiber-optic lights into the roof, giving the impression of a star-filled night sky. For cabin trimmings, supple hide is laid atop seemingly every interior surface that's not wood or chrome. If ever there were a car worth its $400,000-plus price tag, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe might be it.
Unlike past Rolls-Royce motor cars, the Phantom Coupe has the modern electronics and design to match its snooty image, as well as that thoroughly up-to-date V12 engine. BMW has contributed the requisite engineering might while wisely making sure that the Phantom Coupe is instantly recognizable as a Rolls-Royce. We could talk about the Bentley Brooklands, which is powered by an engine that dates back to 1959, but let's just say that there's really no direct competition for the 2009 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe. It's a singular luxury coupe for those with singular means.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is a four-seat ultraluxury coupe with two rear-hinged doors. All the usual accoutrements are standard, along with 21-inch wheels with a run-flat tire system, power-closing doors, bi-xenon headlights and LED running lamps, a two-piece "picnic" trunk lid, parking sensors, front and rear heated seats, power front seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, memory functions and multizone climate control. Rolls-Royce Assist telematics, a multitask controller with LCD screen, keyless ignition/entry, voice controls, Bluetooth and a navigation system are also standard. The audio system is a 15-speaker Logic 7 surround-sound system with an in-dash single-CD player, a six-CD changer in the glovebox, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio with a lifetime subscription.
For an additional fee, Rolls will paint the Coupe and tan its leather in colors of your choice. There are also numerous standard leather and wood trim options. Other optional features include different wheel designs, front and rear camera systems, visible exhaust tips, a brushed stainless-steel hood and the starlight headliner. Individual requests are likely to be accommodated.
Powertrains and Performance:
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is powered by a 6.7-liter V12 capable of 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends this power to rear wheels. Rolls-Royce estimates that the Coupe will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds.
Safety equipment includes run-flat tires, antilock brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front knee airbags, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Front and rear parking cameras are optional.
Interior Design and Special Features:
Believe it or not, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe has a pretty nice interior. Almost every surface is adorned in beautifully crafted veneer, shiny chrome, soft cashmere or the sumptuous hides of between 15 and 18 Bavarian cattle. The dashboard has so much wood on it that you might mistake it for a clothes bureau. The driver is greeted by classically simple gauges and a minimalist control panel. The climate controls are mounted a little low on the dash, however, and they consist of old-school thumb wheels instead of dials or buttons with a digital display. More complex functions like the navigation system are managed by an interface similar to BMW's iDrive system, with the trademark mouselike controller hiding inside the center console when not in use and the LCD screen disappearing behind the stylish analog clock.
Thanks to the rear-hinged "coach" doors, ingress and egress are far easier than in traditional coupes. The doors are impressively large and quite heavy, though one doesn't have to yank them shut, as they are power-operated. Although not nearly as spacious as the Phantom sedan's enormous rear quarters, the Coupe's backseat still provides plenty of adult-sized comfort for hours of high-class travel.
The 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is really, really big. Piloting it through tighter streets can be a harrowing exercise, requiring the driver to keep tabs on its wide body while simultaneously peering over the huge front end, which is visible in the distance like the bow of a ship. Thankfully, the optional split-view front camera provides a left-right side view of crossroads ahead. Given its size, the Coupe is definitely happiest out on the open road, dominating high-speed thoroughfares like a road-going ocean liner, though its sport-tuned chassis helps keep it settled on twisty roads. The ride is smooth but not floaty, absorbing broken pavement with nothing but muted thumps.