2010 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe
2010 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe. Click image to enlarge

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By Tony Whitney

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2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe

The Honourable Charles Rolls and Mr. (later Sir) Henry Royce were an unlikely pair to found their iconic nameplate back in 1904, but great partnerships have often been based on less likely collaborations. Rolls was a youthful and wealthy aristocrat with marketing flair while Royce was a down-to-earth engineer with a head for business. Always attracted by speed, Rolls raced bicycles as a schoolboy, followed by motorcycles and automobiles – a common enough progression at the time. Almost inevitably, he was attracted to the developing field of aeronautics – a risky and adventurous business back in the early part of the 20th century. Sadly, this was to be his undoing and he died in his Wright biplane following structural failure during a flying tournament. He was just 33 years old, but Henry Royce forged ahead to lay the foundations of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars that has for generations been one of the world’s top luxury brands. No carmaker has quite achieved the mystique of Rolls-Royce, though many have tried over the decades. 

2010 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe
2010 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe
2010 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe. Click image to enlarge

The elegant and stately Phantom Coupé we tested recently was built at a factory near Goodwood in the south of England and is no “shrinking violet” in the world of fine cars. This is not a car that’s easy to miss when you see one out on the road. It’s big (especially for a two-door), it’s brash and it shrieks of serious money. Still, which other sporty supercar has a picnic trunk with seating for two?

The Coupé, like other Phantoms, uses a 453-horsepower, 6.75-litre V12 engine designed and assembled by parent company BMW in Germany. Also from Germany is the six-speed automatic transmission which is manufactured by highly-regarded ZF, supplier of gearboxes to a wide range of prestige automakers. As always, these cars offer an uncanny level of refinement and luxury and very much retain the impeccable standards set all those years ago by Hon. Rolls and Mr. Royce.

2010 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe
2010 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe
2010 Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Looking at the size of this car, it would be all too easy to believe that it offers supreme refinement without impressive performance, but nothing could be further from the truth. The refinement is certainly there and at levels very few automakers get close to, but the heavy Phantom Coupé will top 100 km/h in a surprising 5.8 seconds and the top speed would be higher than a claimed 250 km/h if the car wasn’t electronically governed to restrain itself when that lofty pace is reached. 
Handling, too, is far better than a driver might expect, though the car has a turning circle like a cruise ship. It’s not a car that tempts the driver to press it hard on a winding road, but if agility is demanded, it is once again surprising – powering through tight bends like a far smaller automobile and with decent stability too. This isn’t the kind of driving the Phantom is built for, though. Interestingly, the Phantom Coupé has rear hinged coach-doors, as Rolls-Royce calls them. Please don’t refer to them as “suicide doors!” They actually work very well indeed when climbing into the front or rear seats. Incidentally, the mirror-like paint finish of these cars can be specified in 16 different hues, but for the terminally picky, Rolls has a palette of some 44,000 colours available.

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