Full 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is an all-new convertible four-seater from Britain's most prodigious brand.
Apart from dining with Her Majesty Elizabeth II aboard her royal yacht "Britannia," there's nothing that can compare to driving a 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe. Every nook and nuance concerning this two-door convertible version of the venerable Phantom sedan is positively regal: in size, in luxury, in sheer presence. Although 10 inches shorter than the standard Phantom, the Drophead Coupé (pronounced coup-ay in fine British tradition) is still 15 inches longer than a Mercedes S-Class and 8 inches longer than the Bentley Azure. It's also incredibly wide, which in total makes maneuvering in tight spots akin to piloting the "Britannia" through Piccadilly Circus.
So while the Drophead is uniquely large, it is unique in plenty of other ways as well. Most notable are the rear-hinged "coach" doors that have essentially been extinct on two-door cars since the 1930s. Not only are they tremendously nifty, they make exiting this convertible a much more graceful exercise. Of course, nothing but the finest materials go into creating its truly one-of-a-kind cabin. No fewer than 18 supple hides are cut into 250 pieces covering almost every interior surface not occupied by wood or chrome controls -- plastic is a rare sight. Those hides are tanned in nine standard colors (with two contrasting colors). Rolls' bespoke services can also match the leather color to anything you wish, and the same goes for exterior color. Along with the six interior veneers available, you can literally have the Drophead Coupe in whatever fashion you fancy. And if you create a unique color, the Goodwood factory will name it after you -- Gary Jones Bronze has a lovely ring to it.
As an extra-special touch, the tonneau that covers the five-layer soft top (available in six colors itself) can be finished in 100-percent genuine teak. Resembling the deck of a luxury yacht -- not unlike the "Britannia" -- Rolls-sourced blonde green teak is grown in hilltop regions of Southeast Asia where the wood apparently has the cleanest grain and rich coloration. Each "deck" features 30 separate pieces of teak cut from the same tree to avoid any variation in grain patterns. Those pieces are bonded, then black caulking -- the same used by yacht builders -- is applied to the grooves before the entire deck is sanded and finished with a liquid wax. It's recommended that the teak be oiled at every service interval. Sound posh? It bloody well is.
Unlike past Rolls-Royce motor cars, the new Phantom line no longer relies solely upon its name and image, whilst the rest of the car is engineered to specs established when Her Majesty was still in her 30s. Meticulous engineering by BMW has created an automobile that perfectly blends the virtues of a modern German car with the style and panache expected of a classic British luxury cruiser. It makes the Bentley Azure seem Jurassic by comparison.
Having said that, there really is no comparison for the 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe -- not even in regards to the length of its name. At more than $410,000, this is no ordinary car purchase. If you can swing it, though, you'll find no other convertible that will provide the same regal automotive experience. Even Her Majesty will take notice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is a four-seat convertible with two rear-hinged doors. All the usual luxury car refinements are standard, along with 20-inch wheels with a run-flat tire system, an adjustable air suspension, power-closing doors, bi-xenon headlights and LED running lamps, a two-piece "picnic" trunk lid, a five-layer convertible soft top, parking sensors, front and rear heated seats, power front seats and steering column with memory, 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 in-dash single-CD player, a six-CD changer in the glovebox, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio with lifetime subscription.
Rolls-Royces are intended to be customized and as such, the company provides countless bespoke variations to its customers. Most notably, the number of exterior and interior colors is infinite -- for an added fee, Rolls will paint the Drophead Coupe and tan its leather in any color you provide. There are also numerous standard leather, wood trim and convertible top options. Other optional features include 21-inch wheels in chrome or alloy, front and rear camera systems, visible exhausts, brushed stainless hood, teak "deck" tonneau cover and the $17,000 brushed stainless/teak deck combination. Rolls will also try and meet whatever requests customers may have.
Powertrains and Performance
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is powered by a 6.7-liter V12 capable of 453 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends that prodigious amount of thrust to the rear wheels. Rolls-Royce estimates that the Drophead Coupe will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds.
Safety equipment includes run-flat tires, antilock brakes, traction and stability control, a pop-up rollover protection system, active front head restraints, front knee airbags, front side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags. Front and rear parking cameras with innovative front split screen are optional.
Interior Design and Special Features
As nice as one may think the inside of a Rolls-Royce is, it's nicer. Plus, with the infinite number of customization possibilities, buyers have the opportunity to make their Drophead Coupe even nicer…er.
Almost every surface is adorned in beautifully crafted veneer, the shiniest chrome, soft cashmere and the sumptuous hides of between 15 and 18 Bavarian cattle. Unlike the Phantom sedan, the four-person Drophead Coupe is more likely to be driven by the vehicle's actual owner rather than their chauffeur. As such, the driver is greeted by a thin-spoke steering wheel, classically simple gauges and a minimalist control panel. The climate controls are mounted a little low on the dash, however, and some may lament that they are not of a typical automatic variety. More complex functions like the navigation system are managed by an interface similar to BMW's iDrive system, but with climate and audio controls being separate, it's a more user-friendly setup. Its trademark mouselike controller hides inside the center console when not needed, while the LCD screen disappears behind the stylish analog clock.
Thanks to the rear-hinged "coach" doors, exiting the Drophead Coupe is a much more graceful exercise than in traditional cars, as one slightly swivels and steps forward, allowing for a more lady-like departure. Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan should appreciate it. Although not nearly as spacious as the enormous Phantom sedan, the Drophead's rear seat still provides plenty of room and is a treat to spend hours of high-class travel in.
Big. That's the best word to describe the 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, a vehicle that is enormous in every dimension despite being 10 inches shorter than its sedan comrade. As such, piloting it through tighter streets can be daunting, with its wide body and huge front end far in the distance like the bow of a ship. (The Spirit of Ecstasy perched atop the grille may start to look like Leo DiCaprio yelling, "I'm king of the world!") Thankfully, the optional split-view front camera provides a left-right side view of the crossroad ahead to prevent any titanic disasters. Furthermore, the sensation of sitting in a vehicle this large with no roof exaggerates the yachting feel.
Despite all that size, though, the Phantom Drophead Coupe features exemplary steering and handling. The Drophead is definitely happiest out on the open road, where it cruises down high-speed thoroughfares with the powerful authority of a Royal Navy dreadnaught. The ride is smooth but not floaty, absorbing the nastiest bumps and road imperfections with nothing but a muted thump. You could probably hit a land mine and barely notice. Unlike other convertibles -- especially large ones -- there is no body flex or creaking, which perpetuates the feeling of spectacular, indestructible quality.