By KBB.com Editors
The 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is the second Rolls-Royce model developed by BMW since it acquired the rights to the brand name in 2003. BMW's goal is to rejuvenate both the products and the image of the venerable British automaker. The first model, the Phantom four-door sedan, has often been criticized for its sheer size and controversial---many say cartoonish---styling. The two-door convertible, or "drophead" in Brit-speak, combines a sleeker nose with a nearly 10-inch shorter wheelbase to come off as sophisticated yet fashionable. Within the Rolls-Royce framework it is sporty, but certainly no sports car. It's a boulevard cruiser of formidable size and distinctive styling---especially with the optional brushed-stainless hood and teak rear deck---that draws stares and has the presence that one expects in a Rolls-Royce.
The 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe offers its owner the bespoke craftsmanship and unparalleled legacy of owning a Rolls-Royce without appearing pretentious or stodgy. It stresses fun over formality, putting the owner, not a chauffeur, in the driver's seat.
The styling may be too ostentatious, especially if you belong to the conservative "old money" crowd. High-performance buffs and driving enthusiasts might be disappointed by the nearly three-ton car's handling and performance, but then it's highly unlikely that high-performance buffs will be considering a Rolls anyway.
The 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe stands alone as an ultra-luxury four-passenger convertible. Its nearest rival, if there is one, might be the Bentley Azure, which is priced approximately $80,000 lower. The Phantom features novel styling and a much newer chassis platform and engine. Both the Rolls and Bentley have nearly identical horsepower ratings, but the Rolls captures bragging rights by having a V12 as opposed to a V8 under the hood.
Driving Impressions Once you get over the novelty of entering ahead of, instead of behind, the long, heavy rear-hinged doors and settle into the cushy leather-covered driver's seat, your next challenge is...peering over the vast expanse of the hood. Fortunately, it does shrink visually as you accrue miles at the thin-rimmed steering wheel. A 50/50 front-to-rear weight balance, self-leveling air struts and a double-wishbone front suspension with multi-link rear suspension combine to provide a comfortable luxury-quality ride without sacrificing maneuverability. The V12 engine responds quickly to throttle input to briskly move the big convertible down the road. The speed-sensitive steering is equally responsive although a tad light in communicating road feel. Huge disc brakes at each wheel confidently handle the stopping needs of this 221-inch long, 5,776-pound, luxurious leviathan. High or low-speed cruising is the Drophead's forte, and twisty canyon roads are not a chore as long as you keep to the speed limits.
The brushed stainless-steel hood (with a special clear-coat developed after studying the finish of a 20-year old DeLorean) that extends to the windshield frame and the teak-deck convertible-top cover are "must have" items that separate the Drophead Coupe from the herd with a distinctive Gatsby-like presence.
Spirit of Ecstasy
A Rolls is not complete without the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. Computer-design software adds a finer, lifelike appearance to the stainless-steel winged lady riding atop the hood of the Drophead. She drops out of sight to avoid vandals and can be ordered in silver or gold.
With the top raised, thanks to its five layers of insulation plus a cashmere headliner, the interior is as quiet as a hardtop coupe, but it does get a bit breezy at high speeds when the top is down. Standard appointments include choices of ten colors of leather, six wood veneers and brushed-aluminum accents on a dash that blends the traditional (analog clock, circular air vents) with the ultra-modern (Multi-Task Controller; a variation of BMW's iDrive). Front seats are large and supportive while the rear seats offer acceptable room for two adults. Seat and side-mirror controls are hidden under the center armrest.Exterior
No exterior panels were carried over from the Phantom sedan. The Drophead Coupe faces the world with a streamlined version of the Rolls-Royce grille that is angled back to flow into the long, wide hood. It is flanked by single round headlights under LED turn-signal lights. The body tapers rearward and culminates in a trunk that will hold three golf bags and features a normal-opening deck lid plus a drop-down "tailgate" that doubles as a picnic seat that can support 330 pounds. Wide, rear-hinged doors that allow easier access to the rear seat dominate the smooth-sided flanks.
Over 350 man-hours, excluding engine assembly, go into assembling each 2008 Rolls-Royce Drophead Coupe. Standard features include the usual expected and complete array of luxury items plus a nine-channel, 15-speaker stereo, push-button door openers and umbrellas tucked into holders within the doors. Seatbelts are mounted directly to the seats, which also have active head restraints and airbags for added torso and head protection. The thick windshield A-pillars extend to the floor for added rigidity and rollover protection. Concealed in the rear head restraints are roll hoops set to deploy instantaneously in the event of a crash. The Michelin PAX run-flat 20-inch tires can go at least 100 miles at up to 50 mph if punctured.
You can custom-order just about anything in any color you desire. "Must-haves" are the brushed stainless-steel hood and the genuine 1/8-inch thick Burmese teak-covered tonneau cover for the convertible top.
The 2008 Rolls-Royce Drophead Coupe shares the V12 engine and six-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission with its four-door sibling. Power delivery is smooth and comes on almost from idle as 75 percent of the engine's power is on tap at 1000 rpm. Rolls-Royce claims the Drophead can scoot from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds and has a top speed that is electronically limited to 149 mph.
453 horsepower @ 5350 rpm
531 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/18
By Bob on Monday, August 29, 2011
I want this caroverall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "See my review above"
Cons: "The absolute fascination with a black exterior and interior!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Most people that have rated this car here have never even sat in a Rolls-Royce. I own a Rolls-Royce. A Rolls-Royce is expensive to purchase and expensive to properly maintain, BUT when the vault-like door shuts after you have settled into your seat you have entered another dimension in motoring - a world apart from all those other folks driving around you. Quiet, soft sounds, a world of everything working correctly. Just shifting into drive is a pleasure as you are merely moving an electric switch while soundlessly a little electric motor actually shifts the gears. Yup, the Phantom is worth the money if you truly enjoy driving or being driven in true style and absolute comfort"
34 people out of 43 found this review helpful
By Big Ben on Monday, August 15, 2011
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a maseratti and a range rover and I do not drive them anymore since buying this amazing piece of luxury machery."
16 people out of 23 found this review helpful