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Thursday 29 September 2016
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Test Drive: 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Review

Test Drive: 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Review

This week I am behind the very large wheel of a car that costs almost $600,000, weighs three tons, and is about the length of a Chevy Suburban.

This is the 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe. 

FYI, Drophead is the British word for convertible.  The first Phantom Drophead came to America in 2007, brought to us by Rolls’ parent company, BMW.


It is important to note that every Rolls-Royce is hand made, there is no assembly line, and it takes a minimum of two months to assemble one in Great Britain, and there are no two alike.

Let’s start under the bonnet where you find a 6.75-liter 12-cylinder engine putting out 453-horses and 531-pound feet of torque.  It comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission.  Top speed is electronically limited to 150 miles per hour.

Looking at the exterior, the Phantom has an incredibly long raised hood, a very short trunk, and distinctive lines.  This vehicle has 7-spoke, 21’’ wheels, one of 12 different wheel choices.  As you walk around this car, you see the familiar RR emblems on the grill, on the side, and on the rear, where you’ll find dual exhaust.  Open the trunk, and you can fold down a picnic table that you can use as a seat that holds 330 pounds.  Just a side note on the wheels, every time you stop, the Rolls-Royce center caps line themselves up so that they are always lined up perfectly.

True Rolls-Royce enthusiasts will tell you that it is the interior of these cars that they love the most, and this car is no exception.  Open the back-hinged suicide doors and you’ll find the most distinctive interior you’ll ever see.  Elegant, yet at the same time, not overcomplicated.  While you have those doors open, push a button and pull out one of two built-in umbrellas, just in case it rains.  Since the door is so long, many people cannot reach it, so Rolls gave us a button to close the doors automatically.  You can close either door from the driver’s seat.

Once seated behind the huge leather and wood steering wheel with controls, you see a big simple dashboard.  A large speedometer sits in the middle, fuel and temp gauges to the right, and a gauge on the left to show how much power you have that you are not using.  There is a driver info center to the bottom right. To the left of the steering wheel is the pushbutton start, which requires you to insert the key fob, and you also operate the lights from there.

High on the middle of the dash is an 8.8” screen to show your audio, navigation system, backup camera, and Bluetooth functions.  You can choose your presets just under that, and a large round knob controls the volume.  To the left is a button to flip the screen over to reveal the clock.  To the right of that knob are two glove box buttons for an upper and lower choice of glove boxes.  Not sure why, but the upper one is air-conditioned.  That is also where you can manually lower the $3825 lit Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, in case you go through a car wash.  Otherwise, it raises and lowers when you start the car.

Still moving down the center, there is a slide out compartment, good for cellphones or other valuables.

Climate control is simple with dials to turn to adjust upper and lower temperatures, then knobs control the fans.  Very simple, nothing electronic in the settings.  Down low are your cup holders.  Look down and you’ll see the $1600 Lambs wool floor mats.

Moving to the center console and armrests, you pop out a drawer to operate everything connected to the screen, including the menu button for all the car’s settings, apps, etc.  The top of the console is split, with the forward portion housing the power seats and the switch to operate the top.  The back part of the console is storage.

Look around and you’ll see real wood adorns the interior of the Phantom, and just to be sure everything is perfect, all the wood inside the car comes from the same log of a tree.

The back seat is not as large as you might think, but it is easy to enter and exit.  The front seats move electrically for ease of entry and exit.

All four of the headrests have the Rolls-Royce logo embroidered on them, but you can have anything you wish.  For instance, if I wanted the Car Pro logo instead, that is not a problem.

Also interesting is the gear shifter mounted on the steering wheel.  For park, you push the end of the shifter, then if you move it down, the first gear is drive.  From park, you move it up for neutral, and further up for reverse, completely opposite of what we are all used to.

The convertible top is a very thick material for sound deadening, and the top goes down or up in approximately 35 seconds.  When you put the top down, a matching leather cover fits tightly and ties everything together with the door panels for a crisp, clean look.  Even with the top down, you have a huge amount of trunk space left.    

Bottom line on the Phantom Drophead is you are paying a lot of money for the ability to completely customize it any way you wish, including your choice of 44,000 colors.  If you don’t like any of those, choose your own, they will even help you name it.

This car drives great, it literally floats down the road, and of all the cars I have ever driven, I don’t remember one that garnered as much attention or was photographed more by strangers.

Not that owners of this car care, but fuel economy is 11 in town and 19 on the highway, and in city driving, I barely got 9.

Base price of the car is $492,000 and equipped like this one, the total retail price is 579,575 including the $2600 gas-guzzler tax.  Just FYI, of the $82,000 in options, the wheels are the most expensive one, at $10,125.

Even for the ultra-rich, there is no way to justify this much money for a car that is not nearly as technologically advanced as some cars under $100,000, but damn, it’s an amazing ride.

  • What I liked best:  Overall quality and craftsmanship of the entire car.
  • What I would change:  The lack of modern technology, including safety items.       
  • MSRP: Base price $492,000 as equipped $579,575.
  • Fuel Economy: 11 City, 19 Highway, 14 Combined.
  • Fuel Tank: 21 gallons with filler on the passenger side.
  • Dimensions: 220” long/78.2”wide/61.7” high.
  • Weight:  6000 Pounds.
  • Miles When Tested: 4202 miles.
  • Final Assembly Point: Chichester, Great Britain.
  • 2016 RR Phantom Drophead in a few words: Incredible car for those who can afford a custom-made, hand-built car.
  • Warranty:  4-years/Unlimited mileage with roadside assistance.
  • Manufacturers website: Rolls-Royce