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TheCarConnection.com has researched reviews and driven the 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom, Phantom Coupe, and Phantom Drophead Coupe to bring you this comprehensive review of its safety, performance, styling, comfort, and quality. Resident Anglophiles at TheCarConnection.com also used their drives in other ultra-luxury vehicles to compare and contrast the Rolls-Royce Phantom range with other cars in its lofty class.
Rolls-Royce is a brand that needs no introduction. It would be safe to say people on the farthest reaches of the planet would, at the very least, be acquainted with the name. The 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom, be it the Sedan, the Coupe, or the Drophead Coupe, is like no other vehicle in production. Some might say it is even the epitome of luxury motoring. The large presence, attention to even the smallest details, and extreme power ensure Rolls-Royce offers the rare combination of an ultra-luxury vehicle engineered in the most modern way possible but with a stark adherence to heritage and tradition.
The 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom range has a distinctive road presence, which is a mix of old and new. Some might not agree it always goes well together; nevertheless, the styling justifies its position at the forefront in the driving world. The tall radiator grille, Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, and massive D-pillar hark back to the days of classic Rolls-Royce models, though one does have to get used to the narrow, rectangular headlamps that seem a little out of place at first. The front end is tall and imposing, just the way it's meant to be. Keeping with its luxury heritage, there’s chrome and polished metal everywhere, from the front grille to the exhaust pipes.
Once you step inside the new Phantom, Phantom Coupe, or Phantom Drophead Coupe, you are awed by chromed controls throughout the cabin, a glossy veneered dash, and a more than generous dose of hand-stitched leather. Even in the interior, the marriage between old and new is noticeable when the analog clock rotates out of view to expose a navigation system. Quite akin to older British luxury cars, there are also flip-out wooden “drinks cabinets” and “picnic tables” fitted in the backseat. You may find many of the details rather charming, such as the push-pull stems that control the air vents, the stitching on the seats, and the wood-veneered door paneling, to name a few. It goes without saying that the options are expensive, though it should be noted that, understandably, Rolls-Royce will cater to your every whim.
Traditional luxury is the hallmark of Rolls-Royce, the 2010 Phantom range is a modern performer, which can be largely attributed to BMW’s engineering assistance. The 6.75-liter V-12 engine under the hood of all three models is a variation on the 12-cylinder unit found in some big BMW 7-Series sedans. The difference here is that they are designed specifically for use in the Phantom and hand-built by Rolls-Royce engineers. The result is 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque in a seamless, nearly silent stream of power. Transmitted to the car’s rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, the engine’s power pushes these nearly 6,000-pound vehicles to 60 mph from rest in less than six seconds. A control-arm front and rear multilink suspension are teamed with self-leveling air springs and electronic damping to produce an ethereal ride quality and surprisingly responsive, but feather-light, steering. Rolls-Royce claims excellent dynamics for the Phantom range, though with a trucklike 47.9-foot turning circle, it can be difficult to push on public roads, let alone park. It should be noted that TheCarConnection.com’s testers sampled the cars’ effortless straight-ahead feel at more than 100 mph and can attest to their quiet, fleet freeway feel. Fuel economy is shocking at around 13 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway, but one should take into consideration that it's astonishingly high for cars that weigh, at minimum, 5,800 pounds.
The 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom range uses an aluminum body to house the luxury that comfortably seats five passengers. The reason for aluminum is purely because it is lighter than steel, as well as being strong enough to allow the Phantom’s rear doors to open on rear hinges, “coach” style, as the automaker puts it. For those fond of the cold hard facts, the longest variant of the Phantom, the Sedan, is about 19 feet in length (the EWB version is 20 feet), and with a wheelbase of almost 12 feet (12.5 feet in the EWB), it's as long as a MINI Cooper. This is a major contributing factor toward the interior space afforded to the front and rear passengers, as well as the cathedral-like headroom. It’s not a ridiculously wide sedan, even though it offers 103 cubic feet of interior volume. Trunk space is wide but not very deep, at 14.1 cubic feet.
Rolls-Royce is not just about the large interior space; it’s more about luxury and refinement, and the Phantom does not disappoint. Rolls-Royce selects cows for perfect leather graining and cuts their hides with laser precision, bonds the wood trim to aluminum for durability, and employs furniture makers to blend details like inlaid mother of pearl and banded boxwood into the trim. From the ultra-plush carpeting to the exquisite headliner, the Rolls-Royce Phantom range is an exquisite piece of work.
The Phantom Drophead Coupe—just like the Sedan—is in a class of its own in terms of presence, prestige, and luxury in the world of convertibles. It is 10 inches shorter than the Sedan but doesn't seem any smaller. Entry and exit are a breeze, thanks to the coach-style rear hinged doors. The driving experience and ride in the Drophead Coupe are unlike those of any other convertible; it’s devoid of any body roll, and nothing interrupts the smoothness of your ride. One does not wait to see how fast the roof opens and closes before buying this car. A similar story can be told for the Phantom Coupe.
The 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom, Phantom Coupe, and Phantom Drophead Coupe offer passengers all the safety they would need. The strong aluminum body is backed up by standard dual front, side, and curtain airbags. Those curtain airbags protect rear passengers as well. Anti-lock brakes, along with stability and traction control, are also standard, as are an electronic parking brake and park-distance control sensors for the front and rear. Front and rear cameras are offered as an option, but the Phantom does not include the very latest safety features, like lane-departure warning systems, laser-guided cruise control, or blind-spot detection systems. Understandably, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested these cars.
As mentioned earlier, Rolls Royce will cater to your every whim, and if you aren't sure what your whims may be, the list of options is endless. Though one might complain about the radio and satellite navigation not collaborating well, the sheer number of dazzling options and finishes makes the Phantom a perfect score for features. The leather interior, wood trim, and coach-style rear doors are complemented by a heated windshield, rain-sensing wipers, bi-xenon headlamps, wood-trimmed rear picnic tables, soft-close doors and trunk lid, power front seats, a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, automatic climate control, a sunroof, heated front and rear seats, twin umbrellas stowed in the coach doors, a retracting Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, Bluetooth connectivity, and a Lexicon Logic 7 audio system with 420 watts of power, 15 speakers, a six-stacker CD changer, and satellite radio. The test cars given to TheCarConnection.com come with a vast number of other features, including custom paint ($9,800), seat piping ($2,520), a veneered instrument panel ($1,100), Rolls-Royce logos stitched into the headrests ($620), door-mounted drinks cabinets ($14,600), front and rear cameras ($3,300), a “coolbox” for drinks ($5,200), 20-inch wheels ($6,250), chrome exhausts ($6,000), Starlight headlining ($7,200), iPod integration ($630), a six-stacker DVD changer ($1,550), theater-style rear seating ($10,400), a milled drink-holder box, also known as cup holders ($5,100), Rolls-Royce inlays in the door caps ($1,500), front cup holder veneer trim ($920), silver pinstripes on the door caps ($5,310), a thicker steering wheel ($4,290), a two-tone instrument panel top ($1,230), and a bespoke package of black Rolls-Royce logos on the headrests, chrome window switches, and satin trim on the engine ($5,810). All tallied to a final price of almost $450,000, thus making the Phantom the most expensive car ever road-tested by TheCarConnection.com to date. In addition, Rolls-Royce will fit its cars in almost any way imaginable, depending on your preferences, ranging from turning the glove box into a humidor, to modifying the body for added luggage space in the trunk, to buffing the Ecstasy ornament with 24-carat gold.
The Phantom Sedan is available in either standard or EWB (extended-wheelbase) forms, with a base price beginning at $380,000, not including a $2,000 destination charge and a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax. The Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB starts at a whopping $450,000, while the Coupe will set you back around $408,000 and the Drophead Coupe around $443,000.