What's New for 2009
Entering its second year of production, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe receives only minor changes, including standard 21-inch wheels.
Driving the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is the automotive equivalent of living in Buckingham Palace. The size, prestige and sheer presence of this soft-top luxury cruiser are second to none. It may be 10 inches shorter than the related Rolls-Royce Phantom sedan, but the Drophead Coupe (pronounced "cou-PAY," of course) is still 15 inches longer than a Mercedes S-Class and 8 inches longer than a Bentley Azure. It's like piloting your own four-wheeled parade -- and since Rolls-Royce drivers tend to be people of interest to paparazzi, chances are you'll also attract a parade of gawkers and shutterbugs wherever you go.
Also gawk-inducing are the rear-hinged "coach" doors, which had largely disappeared from convertibles after the 1930s. The Drophead Coupe is a convertible that's meant to carry rear passengers in comfort, and these doors make ingress or egress a downright graceful affair. For the interior appointments, supple hide is laid atop seemingly every interior surface that's not wood or chrome. If ever there were a car worth its $430,000-plus price tag, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe might be it.
If the "base" Drophead Coupe is a bit too plain for your taste, the tonneau cover for the five-layer soft top can be finished in genuine teak -- blonde green teak, to be exact, which is grown in hilltop regions of Southeast Asia where the wood apparently has the cleanest grain and richest coloration. Each teak tonneau cover features 30 separate pieces of teak, which are naturally cut from the same tree to avoid any variation in grain patterns. First those pieces are bonded together, and then black caulking -- the same stuff 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. It's also recommended that you check the box for this option, if only to impress the neighbors.
Unlike past Rolls-Royce motor cars, the Drophead Coupe has the modern electronics and design to match its snooty image, as well as a thoroughly up-to-date V12 engine. BMW has contributed the requisite engineering might while wisely making sure that the Phantom is instantly recognizable as a Rolls-Royce. We could talk about the Bentley Azure, but for all intents and purposes there's really no direct competition for the 2009 Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe. It's a singular luxury convertible for those with singular means.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is a four-seat ultraluxury convertible with two rear-hinged doors. All the usual accoutrements are standard, along with 21-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, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, memory functions 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 Lexicon surround-sound system with an in-dash single-CD player, a six-CD changer in the glovebox, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio with a lifetime subscription.
For an additional fee, Rolls will paint the Drophead Coupe and tan its leather in colors of your choice. There are also numerous standard leather, wood trim and convertible top options. Other optional features include different wheel designs, front and rear camera systems, visible exhaust tips, a brushed stainless-steel hood and the teak tonneau cover. Individual requests are likely to be accommodated.
Powertrains and Performance
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is powered by a 6.7-liter V12 capable of 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends this power 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 are optional.
Interior Design and Special Features
Believe it or not, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe has a pretty nice interior. Almost every surface is adorned in beautifully crafted veneer, shiny chrome, soft cashmere or sumptuous hide. The dashboard has so much wood on it that you might mistake it for a clothes bureau. The driver is greeted by classically simple gauges and a minimalist control panel. The climate controls are mounted a little low on the dash, however, and they consist of old-school thumb wheels instead of dials or buttons with a digital display. More complex functions like the navigation system are managed by an interface similar to BMW's iDrive system, with the trademark mouselike controller hiding inside the center console when not in use and the LCD screen disappearing behind the stylish analog clock.
Thanks to the rear-hinged "coach" doors, ingress and egress are far easier than in traditional convertibles. Although not nearly as spacious as the Phantom sedan's enormous rear quarters, the Drophead's backseat still provides plenty of adult-sized comfort for hours of high-class travel.
The 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is really, really big. Piloting it through tighter streets can be a harrowing exercise, requiring the driver to keep tabs on its wide body while simultaneously peering over the huge front end, which is visible in the distance like the bow of a ship. Thankfully, the optional split-view front camera provides a left-right side view of crossroads ahead. Given its size, the Drophead is definitely happiest out on the open road, dominating high-speed thoroughfares like a road-going ocean liner. The ride is smooth but not floaty, absorbing broken pavement with nothing but muted thumps, and the open-roof structure feels impressively rigid.