2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
April 10, 2010

Anyone who rides in the 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom, Phantom Coupe, or Phantom Drophead Coupe will feel like royalty, but at a starting price of almost $400,000, you’d expect that.

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.

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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.

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2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom

Styling

The styling of the 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom is unique in that it blends old-world British charm with contemporary design.

The 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom, Phantom Coupe, and Phantom Drophead Coupe are unchanged for the latest model year, but they did undergo a slight refresh last year that included redesigned wheels, grille, and front bumper, while the interior received new reading lamps. Cars.com claims the “new front bumper and smaller stainless steel grille give the Phantom a more streamlined, contemporary look.” Motor Trend finds that the Drophead Coupe is “the first production Rolls-Royce that breaks from the traditional Parthenon-inspired grille shell. It's curved, angled rearward, and finished in brushed stainless steel instead of polished.” They also say, “In the tradition of the finest 1930s-era coachbuilt automobiles, the Drophead boasts rear-hinged, front-opening doors in the name of style and to make entry/exit a more elegant proposition.”

Edmunds finds that in terms of the Phantom’s exterior styling, “no other automobile boasts the unique style, grandiose dimensions and sterling reputation of the Rolls-Royce Phantom.” Autoblog agrees, saying the “big, bold, and sublime Phantom Drophead Coupe is Rolls-Royce's halo car.”

In the dark, the interior of the Phantom becomes more impressive. Autoblog states that there are 1,600 fiber-optic lights in the headliner of the 2010 Phantom. “At its lowest setting the headliner is twinkle, twinkle little star. At its highest setting, there's a lot of light. Its soft light, not like the klieg lights in some other luxury cars, and probably bright enough to read the paper by.”

Motor Trend asks: “Could there be a more inviting cabin?” Answering their own question, they report “everything you see and touch is wrapped in sublime leather (more than 450 pieces, stitched together by real people with sewing machines), lustrous wood of varying finish, and thickly chromed metal." Edmunds finds “the inside of the Rolls-Royce Phantom is even nicer than might be imagined, with more leather hides and matching pieces of wood than you'll find on a herd of cattle lost in Sequoia National Forest.”

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2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom

Performance

The 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom is surprisingly quick, but anyone desiring sports car performance should consider buying another vehicle. That's no problem, as anyone considering a Rolls-Royce in the first place can afford it.

The 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom, Phantom Coupe, and Phantom Drophead Coupe are all offered exclusively with a BMW-sourced 6.7-liter V-12 engine that develops 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque and is capable of sending the cars from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds.

Edmunds says, “In spite of a curb weight approaching three tons, going from zero to 60 mph takes just 5.7 seconds.” “The 453-horsepower Rolls V-12 shares its basic makeup with that of the BMW 760 sedan,” states Motor Trend, “but it's larger, more powerful, and retuned for even greater refinement. It even sounds different from a 7-Series V-12: dead silent at idle, but with soft intake and exhaust moans when you're really on it.”

The 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom range is not meant to be sporty, but considering its size, its handling and road manners are impressive. “Sporty is always a relative term, particularly when it’s applied to a coupe that’s well over 18 feet long and weighs close to three tons,” finds Car and Driver, who adds that “the coupe drives smaller than its specs suggest, the suspension is a little stiffer than that of the other Phantoms, and the steering is surprisingly quick and tactile, with good on-center response.” ConsumerGuide asserts that, “considering its heft and ride qualities, handling was impressive, with good steering feel and little body lean in fast turns.”

Autoblog claims that the Phantom Sedan is “the stiffest Rolls-Royce in the lineup, and utilizes different spring rates, stiffer dampers, a thicker rear anti-roll bar, and steering tuned for more response.” Its handling is helped by “a 49:51 weight ratio," and the reviewer further muses, “imagine being able to sit on the back of a white rhino and hit the gas, you'll get the feeling.”

As for the Drophead Coupe, a reviewer at Edmunds describes his experience driving the convertible a little differently: “As we drove this car in Italy across some of the finest goat paths in the Tuscan countryside, the Phantom Drophead Coupe felt more than big; it felt out of scale, like a 1:18th-scale model in a 1:43-scale world. Many a Fiat Panda had to swerve into roadside olive groves to avoid us as we came steaming down the centerline.”

Motor Trend states that the Phantom is “backed by ZF's superb six-speed automatic transmission, which offers a 'Low' mode-in reality more like a 'Sport' mode-holding the tranny longer in each gear for more spirited acceleration.” Edmunds isn't impressed, finding that “the only operational aspect of the convertible that we don't like is the six-speed automatic's reluctance to downshift during passing maneuvers,” adding that, “even a car with 531 pound-feet of torque occasionally needs the torque-multiplying magic of a shorter gear.”

Though Phantom buyers will not be concerned with fuel economy, ConsumerGuide reports that there was “no opportunity to measure, but the EPA estimates an average of 14 mpg. Premium fuel is required.”

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2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom

Comfort & Quality

Legroom in the 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom is surprisingly limited given the size of the vehicles’ exteriors; however, most occupants will still find the opulence and comfort remarkable.  

Regardless of whether it is your first or hundredth ride in a Rolls-Royce, the Phantom range always manages to impress its passengers with its luxury. However, some reviewers are curious about the confining interior space in such a large car.

“There's 103 cubic feet of passenger space, which isn't great considering this car's exterior size,” states Cars.com, adding “there is a generous 16.2 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk.” There's no doubt that the Phantom is a large car. “At more than 19 feet long, a regular-wheelbase Phantom surpasses a 7 Series by more than 2 feet in total length, and it can completely swallow a Mini between its front and rear axles,” claims Edmunds. “We lined up for a spot between a Golf Cabrio and a Renault, and all of a sudden it felt like we were trying to park the Death Star,” says Autoblog.

ConsumerGuide finds that “supremely comfortable seats and ample adjustments join plenty of headroom and legroom for first-class accommodations. High-mounted seat cushions aid ingress and egress, and though the rear-hinged door takes getting used to, it doesn't impede entry or exit, and the power closing feature is an appreciated luxury.” Cars.com states that the Phantom can "comfortably seat five, or four if the optional rear bucket seats are chosen.”

Edmunds notes that the aluminum space frame upon which the Phantom is built provides a ride that is “superb, soaking up huge potholes and minor road imperfections with equal aplomb.” ConsumerGuide remarks that, “although our Southern California preview routes weren't plagued by badly broken pavement, the Drophead Coupe soaked up every road imperfection encountered with impressive aplomb and was devoid of undue float or bobbing over bumps.”

According to Autoblog, the Phantom truly shines in its ability to figuratively transport you to another realm: “When the windows are up, the outside world ceases to exist.”  Conversely, “when you roll down the windows, the volume inside the car jumps a noticeable number of decibels, and you remember, ‘Oh yeah, there's, like, stuff out there.’” Even the convertible is noticeably silent. “Top down, it's quiet, allowing normal conversation at 80 mph, and only a bit more volume is required to chat at 100,” asserts Motor Trend. “There is a fair amount of wind buffeting, though; air swirls around the back-seat area, and you can feel it blowing between the front seats.”

According to a reviewer from Autoblog, “there are things I could complain about, like the BMW 7-Series key and the finicky iPod integration. But I won't. People buying this car simply don't care.” Motor Trend finds that “all the controls are calibrated for fingertips not biceps.”

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2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom

Safety

The size and heft of the 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom guarantee strong safety credentials; it's packed with advanced safety technology as well.   

It doesn’t come as a surprise that neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has crash-tested any models from the 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom range.

Inside the Phantom, Phantom Coupe, and Phantom Drophead Coupe, drivers and passengers are provided the latest in safety gear. Cars.com notes standard safety features include “side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, antilock brakes, electronic stability system, traction control and break-resistant glass.” An electronic parking brake and park-distance control sensors for the front and rear of the Phantom are also standard equipment.

Cars.com also claims: “To aid in safety, privacy and social interaction, backseat occupants sit well back in lounge-shaped seats alongside the C-pillars rather than next to the doors.”
Even though front and rear cameras are offered as an option, the Phantom range surprisingly does not include the very latest safety features, like lane-departure warning systems, laser-guided cruise control, or blind-spot detection systems.

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2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom

Features

All variants of the 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom come loaded with every feature you’d expect in one of the world’s most expensive cars.

When talking about features in the 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom lineup, Edmunds finds that “the ultra-luxury competition may offer more high-tech gizmos and a greater sense of the contemporary, [but] the Rolls-Royce Phantom features an undeniable old-world charm and much-larger-than-life presence.”

The sheer number of dazzling options and finishes, along with Rolls-Royce’s willingness to accessorize it in almost any way imaginable—from turning the glove box into a humidor, to modifying the body for added luggage space to the trunk and to buffing the Ecstasy ornament with 24-carat gold—is what differentiates the Phantom from the competition.
Motor Trend makes note of its choices for top five details: 1) “Winged Spirit of Ecstasy retracts into the grille when you shut off the engine.” 2) “Twin umbrellas deploy from the front door opening.” 3) “Forget something as vulgar as a tachometer. The Phantom has a Power Reserve gauge instead.” 4) “Rear ashtrays, beautifully cast of metal, resemble organ pipes.” 5) “Rear panel of the trunk area folds down for use as tailgate party seating, or a nice place to spread out your buffet.”

Autoblog finds that some features are hidden, “like the seat controls under the center armrest, which is a minor issue, and the media screen controller, which is a good thing.” Another small complaint from Autoblog is that “the only thing there is to play with are the climate control knobs, which, not being digital, could involve a bit of finessing to get the temperature you want.”

Edmunds reports on the 15-speaker stereo: “We were convinced that it was our driving partner who was singing along. It wasn't until we screwed up the courage to look over and see that his mouth was shut that we realized it was a recorded voice. Moments later, he said, unprompted, ‘God, I thought that was you singing!’ That's a good stereo.”
The Phantom, Phantom Coupe, and Phantom Drophead Coupe are more expensive than any other vehicle ever tested by TheCarConnection.com. The vehicles are deserving of their status as some of the best ultra-luxury cars on the market today, though there’s room for improvement. We find that the navigation and satellite radio systems take some getting used to and aren’t integrated well.

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