Review: 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Test Drive

Review: 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Test Drive

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe features all the opulence of the Phantom sedan with the ability to enjoy open-top motoring.

by Jim Gorzelany

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe debuted as a 2008 model and is essentially a restyled two-door, four-seat, open-air version of Phantom sedan. It is the second new model to come from the legendary British brand since BMW took full control of Rolls-Royce in 2003. A fixed-roof coupe is expected to round out the model line later in 2008.

As with the Phantom sedan, the Drophead (that”s Brit-speak for “convertible”) Coupe is an amalgam of German engineering and English stateliness. Its aluminum space-frame body and engine come from Germany, while the interior trim and final assembly hail from England.

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While the two models share mechanical components, the Drophead is wrapped in exclusive body panels and boasts around 1,300 unique parts. Long rear-hinged doors not only make a bold styling statement, but allow easier access to the rear seats. The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe is crowned at the front end by Rolls-Royce”s traditional “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament.

Review: 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Test Drive


Beneath the expansive hood of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe sits a BMW-developed, direct-injection 6.75-liter V12 engine that delivers in excess of 450 horsepower; it”s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The car can reach 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds and reach a top speed just shy of 150 mph, which is hardly considered high-performance, but at least respectable for a model of its size and mass.

Review: 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Test Drive


Nearly 10 inches shorter than the sedan upon which it”s based, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe likewise has an aluminum space-frame construction that is both lightweight and durable. A sophisticated double wishbone suspension up front with a multilink array at the rear and height-adjustable shock absorbers produce a smooth ride and keep the bulky car planted through the curves. The convertible rides on a slightly smaller wheelbase than the sedan, with a somewhat lower center of gravity, which help maximize its cornering abilities. However, it”s still far from being an exotic sports car in that regard.

The Phantom Drophead Coupe rides on massive 20-inch wheels and run-flat tires, with even larger wheels and tires available to afford sportier handling. Run-flat tires allow a driver with a flat to keep going for at least 100 miles at reduced speeds to reach a safe place to pull over, or reach a facility where the tire can be fixed or replaced. It also precludes the need for a spare tire and jack, which saves both weight and cargo room.

Stability control is on hand to prevent a loss of control in severe handling situations, while oversized, ventilated antilock disc brakes with Emergency Brake Assist (which applies full braking force in emergency stopping situations) help bring the car to a halt safely and securely.

Review: 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Test Drive


The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe”s teak wood-trimmed interior is the epitome of opulence, and its design is inspired by the world of yachting. The elegant leather-clad seats and other interior elements are specifically crafted to be able to withstand the elements should an owner get caught in a sudden storm with the roof down. An optional teak trunk cover further reinforces the convertible”s nautical theme. There”s enough room in the trunk for three sets of golf clubs, even with the convertible top open, and it can serve as a seating area for well-heeled tailgaters with the lid open.

The cashmere-lined power-operated fabric top protects the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe”s passengers from both road noise and the elements with five full layers of insulation. As you would expect, convenience features are plentiful “” they include a specially designed nine-channel, 15-speaker high-fidelity audio system “” with a wide range of customization available.


Is the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe for You?

Buy the Phantom Drophead Coupe if
You want and can afford the modern embodiment of the classic British ultra-luxury convertible, even if it comes from a German-owned automaker.

Keep Looking if
You want a sportier or more exotic-looking sports car; you are buying a Phantom to be chauffeured in.

Who Fits?
The Phantom Drophead Coupe is built for comfort and affords ample accommodations for four adults, with long rear-hinged doors that render rear-seat access easy.

Closest Competitors
Bentley Continental GTC

Did You Know?
Fredrick Henry Royce built his first auto, the “Royce,” in 1904. He subsequently teamed up with Charles Stewart Rolls to market Royce”s vehicles, with the original Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost debuting in 1906. Demand for the luxury car would prove to be so great that the company actually built Silver Ghosts in the U.S. at a second factory located in Springfield, Mass. from 1921 to 1931. Rolls-Royce acquired fellow British automaker Bentley in 1931. While both car lines remained similar in execution for decades to come, the Bentleys gained a reputation as being driver”s cars, while the Rolls-Royces were thought of as been built for those who would prefer to be driven by others (i.e., their chauffeurs). The two companies were sold off to different companies in 1988, with Rolls-Royce being acquired by BMW, and Bentley going to Volkswagen. The two companies entered into an agreement whereby VW would produce both brands, with BMW supplying the engines and other components. This arrangement ended in January 2003.


2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Gallery:



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