JUL 04th 2014

Rolls‑Royce Phantom Coupe ‘on tour’ to Classic Le Mans

Remember the magnificent Phantom Series II Coupe performing Course Car duties at FoS last weekend? It’s a one-off built especially for the purpose and it’s a real stunner with Diamond Black coachwork featuring a funky orange coachline, and a supple black leather interior with matching orange fascia highlights and seat piping. The orange was chosen, rather fabulously, to match the orange lights bolted onto the roof for the hillclimb… talk about attention to detail.

Is there any other car on sale today that offers anything like the Phantom’s sense of motoring in the grand style?

When the last hillclimb run was over on Sunday, the Phantom had a scant 450 miles on the clock. It had given sterling service over the weekend, but somehow it didn’t seem right to hand the car back to its makers without allowing it to stretch its legs a little…

So we asked ever-so nicely, and here we are in Le Mans for the Classic, following a fast (and late) cruise down from Goodwood via the Dover – Dunkirk ferry. And what a ride… is there any other car on sale today that offers anything like the Phantom’s sense of motoring in the grand style? Don’t know about you, but I don’t think so.

The experience just feels so opulent, lavish and well… delightfully superior. Not just because you’re towering over the rest of the traffic (seat high is roughly on par with an SUV), but because driving a Rolls (indeed just sitting in one) is such a sublimely tactile experience that you couldn’t ever find it tedious.

It’s the steering that stands out for me though. The thin-rimmed wheel is finger-tip light, but – shock horror – it also transmits ‘feel’ from those huge road wheels. In an age when new cars might as well have joysticks for directional control for all the feedback they provide, the Rolls speaks an old-school analogue language that perfectly suits the car’s transcendently timeless appeal.

It’s quick too, but not shatteringly so – perhaps reasonably considering the car’s bulk. The Phantom Coupe’s V12 offers up 450hp and plenty of torque, but this is the first time I’ve driven one and felt it could – just occasionally – do with a little more muscle. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by all the 600+bhp supercars we’ve been driving recently.

It’s also the first time I’ve driven one at night with the starry headlining illuminated. We didn’t know we had the starry roof, and finding the switch under the central console cover was a definite highlight at 1am this morning with 100 miles still to run into Le Mans…

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