Used 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is more than just a fixed-roof version of the Drophead Coupe convertible. Sporty suspension tuning makes the Phantom Coupe the driver's car of the Rolls lineup, in case you're interested in carving canyons with your $400,000 ultra-luxury flagship.
Like its sedan and convertible siblings, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe occupies a niche at the very top of the automotive food chain. The size, prestige and sheer presence of this fixed-roof luxury cruiser are second-to-none. Driving one is 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.
The new Phantom Coupe shares its 6.7-liter V12 with the other Rolls-Royce cars, and it is essentially a hardtop version of the Phantom Drophead Coupe. However, Rolls-Royce has gone to some lengths to ensure that the driving experience will be a bit edgier in the Phantom Coupe. Stiffer rear dampers and modified spring rates firm up the suspension without noticeably affecting ride quality, and a thicker rear antiroll bar is said to reduce body lean in hard cornering. The steering wheel rim is slightly thicker and supposedly offers more road feel, and a new Sport button on the wheel itself activates a more aggressive transmission mode. These tweaks don't exactly turn the Phantom Coupe into a sports car, but they do make for a more driver-centric experience than what is offered by either the sedan (which seems likely to be driven by a chauffeur) or the convertible.
Along for the ride are features familiar from the Drophead Coupe, including rear-hinged "coach" doors that make ingress or egress a downright graceful affair, and a two-passenger rear seat described by Rolls as "a curved sofa." The Phantom sedan contributes to the Phantom Coupe its optional full-length "Starlight Headliner," which incorporates hundreds of tiny fiber-optic lights into the roof, giving the impression of a star-filled night sky. For cabin trimmings, supple hide is laid atop seemingly every interior surface that's not wood or chrome. If ever there were a car worth its $400,000-plus price tag, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe might be it.
Unlike past Rolls-Royce motor cars, the Phantom Coupe has the modern electronics and design to match its snooty image, as well as that thoroughly up-to-date V12 engine. BMW has contributed the requisite engineering might while wisely making sure that the Phantom Coupe is instantly recognizable as a Rolls-Royce. We could talk about the Bentley Brooklands, which is powered by an engine that dates back to 1959, but let's just say that there's really no direct competition for the 2009 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe. It's a singular luxury coupe for those with singular means.
Trim levels & features
The 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is a four-seat ultraluxury coupe with two rear-hinged doors. All the usual accoutrements are standard, along with 21-inch wheels with a run-flat tire system, power-closing doors, bi-xenon headlights and LED running lamps, a two-piece "picnic" trunk lid, 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 Logic 7 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 Coupe and tan its leather in colors of your choice. There are also numerous standard leather and wood trim options. Other optional features include different wheel designs, front and rear camera systems, visible exhaust tips, a brushed stainless-steel hood and the starlight headliner. Individual requests are likely to be accommodated.
Performance & mpg
The Rolls-Royce Phantom 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 rear wheels. Rolls-Royce estimates that the Coupe will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds.
Safety equipment includes run-flat tires, antilock brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front knee airbags, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Front and rear parking cameras are optional.
The 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom 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 Coupe is definitely happiest out on the open road, dominating high-speed thoroughfares like a road-going ocean liner, though its sport-tuned chassis helps keep it settled on twisty roads. The ride is smooth but not floaty, absorbing broken pavement with nothing but muted thumps.
Believe it or not, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe has a pretty nice interior. Almost every surface is adorned in beautifully crafted veneer, shiny chrome, soft cashmere or the sumptuous hides of between 15 and 18 Bavarian cattle. 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 coupes. The doors are impressively large and quite heavy, though one doesn't have to yank them shut, as they are power-operated. Although not nearly as spacious as the Phantom sedan's enormous rear quarters, the Coupe's backseat still provides plenty of adult-sized comfort for hours of high-class travel.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
Wafting down a poplar-lined French motorway at 100 mph, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe's unique Power Reserve meter informs you that fully 90 percent of the 6.7-liter V12's 453 horsepower is still available, should you need it to whisk past a dawdler.
There's virtually no audible engine noise. The crisp, speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering is perfectly on-center. The seat is comfortably deep and plush, yet supportive. And an XXL-sized 26.4-gallon fuel tank means a cruising range of 400 miles.
The fact that it takes about $125 these days to fill that big tank Stateside is likely of little concern. (It costs 150 euros — over $300 — in France!) After all, you've already spent $400,000 to be seated behind this immense, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom is the most personal sporting coupe one can own. You choose your coupe's exterior color from among 44,000 possible selections. You specify an interior trim from one of six luscious veneers like Rosewood, Elm Cluster or Mahogany Flare (Piano Black is soooooo boring, darling). You select interior upholstery from eight sumptuous leather options. ("We only use bull hides," Andrew Monahan, the leather shop foreman declares. "Their leather is not stretched.") You even choose between a conventional painted hood or one in gleaming stainless steel.
And that's just the start.
Have It Your Way
Ordering a bespoke automobile as you would a custom-tailored Saville Row suit remains a way of life with Rolls-Royce, as it has for decades. You still can personally select many key, handmade elements of your 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe. If you want to specify a special color, type of leather or rare wood, Rolls-Royce is happy to comply. Rolls-Royce doesn't make many motorcars, so the ones it does make are created slowly and most often to an individual order. The assembly line moves just seven times each day.
Rolls-Royce set a sales record last year with 1,010 units sold (557 Phantoms, 200 extended-wheelbase limousines and 253 dropheads). That's about one-tenth of Bentley's current volume, so if you're looking for serious exclusivity, then you want a Phantom saloon (in either regular or extended wheelbase), a Phantom Drophead (Britspeak for convertible) or especially the new Phantom Coupe.
Rolls-Royce has a long history of desirable grand touring automobiles that harks back to the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental in the early 1930s. Usually built on a shorter wheelbase, these sporty coupes, cabriolets and close-coupled sedans were fitted with a tall axle ratio for high speeds and generally carried lighter coachwork (in aluminum or fabric) to encourage fast touring. Today, the born-again Rolls-Royce works ensconced in spacious, environmentally friendly (400,000 trees have been planted nearby) digs in Goodwood, England, and is meticulously assembling its huge cars by hand, while an assembly line is being readied for a new, smaller Rolls in 2010.
Meanwhile, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe — derived from the 101EX concept car unveiled at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show — is just entering production, and it's quite different from the bigger Phantoms that have been built since BMW bought Rolls-Royce in 1998.
Better Buy Stock in Reynolds
Based on the Phantom sedan, the Coupe shares the same all-aluminum space frame that's built in boxed sections and painstakingly hand-welded to 0.0004-inch tolerances. The Coupe's wheelbase is 9.8 inches shorter than the sedan, and the suspension has anti-dive and anti-lift geometry. The springs and rear dampers are stiffer, and a thicker rear antiroll bar tunes out some of the understeer.
Meanwhile there's more boost for the speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion, and the sensation is heightened by a thick-rim sport steering wheel. The brakes are massive (with 14.7-inch rotors and twin-piston calipers in front, plus 14.6-inch rotors in the rear with single-piston calipers), and they haul this big baby down smartly and repeatedly without fading. Goodyear run-flat tires on 21-inch cast-aluminum wheels (there are two forged wheel options) eliminate the weight of a spare, yet this short-wheelbase coupe still weighs 5,798 pounds, the same as a Phantom sedan and even 22 pounds more than the convertible.
The 48-valve, 6.7-liter V12 — set well back in the chassis for a desirable 49 percent front/51 percent rear weight distribution — delivers 453 hp at 5,350 rpm and 531 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm and gets this heavyweight car to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. This engine also develops some 75 percent of its power at just 1,000 rpm, accounting for the turbinelike smoothness that's long been associated with Rolls-Royce cars. Depress a discreet sport button on the steering wheel and the transmission holds gears longer and quickens kickdown, while throttle response is more aggressive, too.
A Matter of Style
Chief designer Ian Cameron has done a fine job of differentiating and updating this handsome hardtop. Up front, the contemporary Rolls-Royce grille seems even more massive, perhaps because the Coupe's rectangular LED parking lights have been reduced in size and the circular headlamps have been enlarged to recall the proportions of old. The heavy A-pillars, high waistline and bluff corners would appear even more gigantic were it not for a sculpted reveal that arcs gently from front to rear, accented by the extended front door handle and kissed with an elegant swirl behind the front wheel opening that's reminiscent of a 1930s fender line.
The Coupe's enormous rear-hinged "suicide" doors produce a graceful, uninterrupted line at the A-pillar, aiding torsional rigidity and also adding immeasurably to this car's mystique. It does take a bit of practice to slither smoothly inside and maneuver around that big steering wheel. You discover the drill is to first sit gracefully, then swivel your legs around together through about 45 degrees in a fluid, regal arc.
More importantly, the wide, forward-facing coach doors facilitate an elegant egress, especially for a lady in a long dress. The doors can be closed via a pushbutton that's discreetly hidden in the front quarter light. The rear seat is fine for a short trip to the opera, but you wouldn't want to be there for hours.
The Phantom Coupe is surprisingly sporty for its size. Passing maneuvers on the old, tree-lined two-lane thoroughfares of Bonaparte's France are a snap. The Coupe scuttles around the vehicle in front of you and is back in line before you can mutter, "God save the Queen." The brakes are like the proverbial giant hand.
Asked for more speed, the V12 revs quickly, and a hint of a powerful trill breaks its usual impassive silence. Hammer this car into a tight turn, and yes, you'll get some tire squeal and body roll, but the Coupe will grip the tarmac and carry on.
That said, it's not designed for tight twisties. A typical Coupe buyer owns a Ferrari or another exotic in his fleet for that purpose. Long sweepers, arrow-straight byways or the Alps? Bring 'em on. This car puts the "Grand" in Grand Touring. It's all about the journey, and when that's completed, it announces regally: "You have arrived."
If You Have To Ask...
Although the price of the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe has not yet been announced, it's thought to be in the vicinity of $400,000. That's a staggering sum for most people, but wealthy Rolls-Royce owners possess multiples of everything: stately homes, private clubs and cars of all types, so they are accustomed to what they perceive as being the best.
And when you buy this car, the whole process is all about selecting the best. You're getting hand-matched wood veneers, matched leather hides and cashmere blends selected by acknowledged experts. "Our leather actually breathes," coos Andrew Monahan in his leather shop. "It has particular warmth to it."
If you want to personalize your car with embroidery or marquetry, Rolls-Royce will do it cheerfully. No color choice is beyond consideration. "We make each car the way the customer wants," says Tom Purves, now CEO after years as BMW's chief executive in North America. Each car is polished for five hours and driven on the road for an hour before being cocooned for delivery.
Judging from stares and waves of passersby, there's nothing subtle about the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe. That's what you're paying for.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe Overview
The Used 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is offered in the following submodels: Phantom Coupe. Available styles include 2dr Coupe (6.7L 12cyl 6A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.