Want to be noticed? Get the marque that epitomises style and grace for a mere €500k, writes Matt Joy
If you’re going to dream, you should dream big. The first and last word in luxury has always been Rolls Royce and, while they have an increasingly broad range of luxury cars, it is the range-crowning Phantom that’s the ultimate luxury car.
What better way to enjoy this luxury than in the Phantom Drophead Coupé? Don’t let the coupé tag fool you; Drophead in Rolls Royce speak means convertible, so it is a very different proposition from the Phantom saloon. This is a super-luxury car you drive yourself rather than letting James have all the fun.
Whatever colour you choose for your Phantom Drophead, you’re going to get noticed. It’s over 5.6 metres in length — that’s 18 feet 4 inches in old money — making it one of the longest car on sale that isn’t another Rolls Royce.
It might sound hard to believe, but there is a grace to it despite its size. Its proportions and curves recall those of an elegant yacht, which isn’t entirely accidental, and the detailing is inspired by such things; the teak rear decking could come straight from a Riva speedboat.
You might think something as potentially ostentatious as this could have a somewhat negative image, but the truth is far from it. During a weekend of gliding elegantly about the country it received nothing but keen interest, open-mouthed staring and endlessly enthusiastic enquiries. People love this car, because it’s like nothing else on earth.
It might be 5.6 metres long, but you can’t use all of that for stuff or people, not with a 6.75-litre V12 engine.
However, don’t go thinking the Phantom Drophead isn’t spacious. Sitting up front is like being in a luxurious drawing room, with a different design of seat (made to deal with the occasional rain shower).
You sit high up with an imposing view of the road. The back seats are a little smaller, but still spacious and comfortable, while the boot is a modest 315 litres.
Let’s face it, though, your south of France pile will have a wardrobe of your clothes, anyway.
It’s easy to be cynical about a car of this size and expense, but just five minutes behind the wheel is all it takes to realise the Phantom Drophead offers a completely different experience altogether.
The engine starts without a murmur and it’s only the needles flickering into life that indicate the silken V12 is running. Shift the delicate gearlever into D and, as you release the brake, the Phantom rolls, as if you’re releasing momentum rather than merely accelerating.
As you build speed, the sensation continues, while the suspension makes road imperfections disappear. Everything about the Phantom is geared to shielding you from the petty faults of the world and transporting you to your destination as unflustered as possible.
The other magic trick the Phantom performs is to dissuade you from being hurried or stressed. Sure, you can hustle this 2.6 tonne beast, but without even knowing it, you find your arms sitting comfortably on the leathered rests, your hands slip to the bottom third of the wheel and suddenly life isn’t quite so demanding.
On paper, it’s not the easiest task to justify a list price of £358,488 (€509,698) before options (prices not available for Ireland), but let’s remember who this car is aimed at; the lucky few who own several cars, probably several houses and possibly other modes of transport. What you are buying is an experience beyond compare. The craft and quality is exceptional, the driving experience is incomparable and the way it makes you and your passengers feel isn’t available elsewhere.
Even so, this is clearly not a car for every person and every budget. If you’re fortunate enough to be in the position to drop nearly over €500k on a car, then you probably don’t need or want my input.
However, it’s worth remembering that several thousand talented employees in Goodwood, England, designed and built this magnificent machine.
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