Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe, 2009

Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe, 2009

In 2006, Rolls-Royce 101EX was unveiled, an experimental car hand-built to explore an exciting new design direction for a modern coupé. Wrapped in a sleek, rakish body, 101EX was an engineering-led study, showcasing the technical and architectural innovation inherent in the quintessential modern Rolls-Royce car. Both handsome and elegant, it encapsulated the essence of contemporary coupé style.

So positive was the worldwide reaction to 101EX that, in autumn 2007, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars announced that a series model would go into production in the summer of 2008. This coupé would complete the Phantom family, standing alongside the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase and Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé.

Revealed at the Salon International de l'Automobile, Geneva in March 2008, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé is the third new model from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars since BMW Group became custodian of the marque in 1998.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is the most driver-orientated model in the Phantom line. A number of subtle but significant modifications have been made that change its character. It is noticeably more dynamic, whilst still offering incredible levels of comfort a balance not easily achieved.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe marries cutting-edge technology with a beautifully proportioned, muscular body that exudes power and style. Utterly contemporary in appearance, it nonetheless incorporates timeless Rolls-Royce design cues such as the long bonnet, large-diameter wheels, short front and long rear overhangs and the classic dynamic, rising profile.

Designed to cover great distances with the minimum of fuss, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is a sublime choice for a transcontinental trip, its effortless power provided by the Phantom's 6.75-litre V12, producing a phenomenal 453 bhp and 720 Nm of torque. Agile, fast, long-legged and virtually silent, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé allows both driver and passengers to emerge unruffled, even after an all-day run.

The sleek lines of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe suggest tremendous, effortless power. Designed to look like a moving form even at a standstill, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe has the demeanour of a muscular animal, ready to be unleashed.

The front end, with its slim LED sidelights and larger, round driving lamps, has a gently raked, softer-edged appearance, sweeping back over the long bonnet to the strong line of the triangular A-frame. The front coach-doors are rear-hinged and were newly homologated for use on the Drophead Coupé. Enabling all passengers to enter and exit more gracefully, these doors also offer safety benefits: the rear hinging allows an uninterrupted A-pillar, which adds significantly to the car's overall torsional rigidity. For ease of operation, the doors may be closed at the simple touch of a button, housed discreetly inside the front quarterlight.

In classic Rolls-Royce style, the Phantom Coupé has a dynamic, rising profile, its high waistline tapering back to a contemporary take on a boat-tail. Sleek body panels create an uninterrupted visual flow, complemented by accents of stainless steel and aluminium.

The picnic boot, as seen on the Drophead Coupé, is a wonderfully sociable feature. When lowered, it provides a seating platform for two, with hinges substantial enough to hold a weight of 150 kg / 330 lb. At the same time, it also offers easy access to the luggage compartment, which has a volume of 395 litres / 13.9 cu ft - enough for four sets of golf clubs.

The mirror-like finish of the paintwork perfectly sets off the stunning lines of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe. Each body receives five individual coats of paint and lacquer, with hand-finishing between each layer. It is then polished for five hours to create a lustre that is unsurpassed in the automotive world. A new palette of nine standard paint colours has been selected for the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe, including Darkest Tungsten, Anthracite and New Sable. However, through the Bespoke programme, customers can choose from more than 44,000 different hues. Like the Drophead Coupé, the new model is available with a brushed steel bonnet and A-pillar surround. These parts are machine-brushed to create a uniform grain and then hand-polished to a unique and flawless finish.

An exquisite interior, hand-built using the finest materials, supremely comfortable and equipped with a studio-quality sound system, makes the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé the perfect car for all-day driving. Clean and contemporary, the cabin uses traditional materials in a modern way to create a tactile and visual feast: driver and passengers touch only leather, wood or chrome.

All the controls are intuitively and conveniently positioned, the simplicity of the facia belying the technology beneath. An analogue clock set in a bookmatched veneered panel hides the media screen, only to be revealed when called upon. The multi-zone climate control has chromed eyeball vents and traditional 'organ stop' controls, while additional features are accessed using beautifully crafted 'violin keys' - contemporary uses of long-established, and well loved, Rolls-Royce design features.

The Lexicon LOGIC7TM sound system can be controlled by just one dial. Unique in its use in the automotive industry, the Lexicon system has 15 metal-matrix speakers to deliver an unparalleled clarity of sound, regardless of where a passenger may be seated. A nine-channel amplifier powers these speakers - two sub-woofers fitted beneath the seats and 13 100 mm mid-range and 44 mm tweeter arrays carefully placed around the car - to an impressive 420 watts of sound. The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is available with iPod connectivity as an alternative to the standard six-CD changer.

The commanding driving position affords the most inspirational view in motoring: straight down the long sweep of bonnet to the Spirit of Ecstasy. Closer fitting than those of the Phantom, the slim-line front seats offer outstanding comfort, ensuring that both driver and passenger remain fresh and relaxed after a day's drive.

The rear of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe houses an inviting lounge seat, a curved sofa that interior designer Alan Sheppard describes as, "intimate for two yet superbly comfortable on long journeys". Boulevard lighting creates a gentle luminescence, an effect that can be heightened by the optional, full-length starlight headlining, which incorporates hundreds of tiny fibre optics to give the impression of a star-filled night sky. Adjustable to provide a quiet glow or ample light to read by, this beautiful lighting is complemented by discreet directional reading lights in the C-pillars.

At the core of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is a sophisticated, all-aluminium spaceframe, first seen in the Phantom. It provides an exceptional base for the car, offering great strength, a very high degree of torsional rigidity and low weight, all of which benefit dynamics. Manufactured to within a tolerance of just 0.1 mm / 0.004 in, each spaceframe is constructed by hand and then checked by computer to ensure total accuracy. The body's structure, comprised of box sections of aluminium, is painstakingly hand-welded by a team of experts. Every morning, each member of the team performs a 300 mm test weld to ascertain atmospheric effects on the metal with which they are working so that these can be taken into account. In all, more than 130 metres of weld are used to create the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe's spaceframe.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé's lightweight and rigid structure, the most torsionally stiff in the Phantom line, provides the foundation for its excellent dynamic abilities, but it also offers safety benefits. The box sections are exceptionally strong and offer greater dispersion of energy in the event of a collision. Frontal impacts are absorbed by crumple zones that direct the force into Y-shaped chassis members and the main understructure, the strongest part of the chassis. Side impact intrusion is minimised by the double-skinned floor construction, side sills and integral side impact bars in each door.

The inherent safety of the spaceframe is enhanced by other safety systems controlled by ISIS (Intelligent Safety and Information System). This takes readings from sensors located throughout the car and, in the event of an impact, makes up to 4000 calculations a second to establish its severity, deploying safety systems as necessary. These include intelligent braking and restraint systems, such as Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control, seatbelt pre-tensioners and any of six airbags.

With the exception of the picnic boot, steel bonnet and A-pillar surround, all the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe's panels are created from aluminium, a material that delivers a substantial weight saving over steel. The large, single-piece front wings are made by a process called super plastic forming. The alloy is heated and then formed, without stress of the material, to the required shape and size in a process seen for the first time in the automotive industry.
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