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2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Overview
Now almost a decade into its first generation, and displaying a design that dates back even longer, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe rolls into 2016 with no changes. In fact, other than a few tweaks to the grille and subtle updates to the headlights and running lights over the past few years, the Drophead Coupe has changed little since its introduction for the 2008 model year.
Depending on how you look at it, that's either a good or a bad thing. Certainly an impressive automobile, the hand-built 2-door luxury convertible retains its iconic styling, led by the Spirit of Ecstasy perched atop the single-piece Pantheon grille. The long, aggressive hood, rectangular headlights, flared wheel wells, unique rear-hinged coach doors, and gently sculpted curves all remain, and still make an impressive statement, as they're meant to do.
At the same time, automotive design has changed in the past decade, becoming more aerodynamic, fluid, and technology-based. In many ways, the Drophead Coupe seems like a blast from the past, if a thoroughly elegant and handsome one. A full redesign for the Drophead Coupe is probably overdue, and should happen in the next few years. But until then, the British automaker's flagship luxury convertible still remains one of the most desirable drop-tops on the planet.
Inspired by the J-class racing yachts of the 1930s, the Drophead Coupe displays a number of nautical elements designed to distinguish it from the Phantom Sedan (on which it's based) and the Phantom Coupe. A lower swooping line along the sides, mimicking the curve of the lower edges of the doors, was designed to resemble the prow of a yacht, and a teak wood decking option for the cover of the convertible top's storage compartment behind the rear seats, plus teak wood trim for the trunk, certainly add a maritime feel.
Up above, the Drophead Coupe's soft convertible top consists of 5 layers of material, designed to ensure a quiet cabin. As an option, owners can add a cashmere interior headliner. In the rear, the unique trunk lid splits horizontally, with the lower section serving as a tailgate while the upper section opens like a traditional trunk. Rolls-Royce calls the arrangement a "picnic boot." Cargo space checks in at 11.1 cubic feet, which is fairly respectable for a convertible.
The nautical theme continues inside in the design of some of the gauges and controls. In place of a traditional tachometer, the Drophead Couple has a Power Reserve dial, which displays how much engine power remains available. At the touch of a button, the clock panel in the center of the dash flips to reveal an 8.8-inch touchscreen, giving passengers access to the vehicle's navigation and infotainment systems.
High-end features like hand-stitched leather upholstery, exotic wood veneers, power-adjustable heated front seats, and a 15-speaker, 600-watt premium audio system give the cabin a luxury feel. The leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel tilts away for easy driver entry and exit. Customization options include lambswool carpeting, heated rear seats, a full-metal dashboard, a cigar humidor or a pen set in the glovebox, and various types of drink holders and coolers.
Under the long hood, a hand-built 6.7-liter V12 engine continues to power the Drophead Coupe through the rear wheels. It generates 453 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque, and although it's not the most powerful engine produced by Rolls-Royce, it moves the nearly 6,000-pound vehicle along at a good clip, pushing it from 0-60 mph in a respectable 5.6 seconds. The engine links to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission and posts fuel economy numbers of 11 mpg city/19 highway. Top speed is limited to 150 mph.
Although it's based on the Phantom Sedan, the Drophead Coupe measures 9 inches shorter, with an overall length of 220.9 inches. Still, that's more than 18 feet long, so this is no shrinking violet. It is, however, sportier and nimbler than the Sedan. Its self-leveling air suspension with continuous electronic damping delivers a smooth, comfortable ride, and an available Dynamic Package adds a higher level of sportiness, thanks to a stiffer suspension, tweaked transmission shift points, and a thicker steering wheel.
Power-assisted ventilated 4-wheel disc brakes come standard, but owners can opt for a performance braking system, as well as 12 different wheel designs. All the expected safety features, such as Dynamic Traction Control, Dynamic Brake Control, and a full range of airbags, are included.
Customization remains one of the Drophead Coupe's biggest draws, as prospective owners can add just about any option they can dream up, all hand-crafted by the automaker's bespoke department. For instance, Rolls-Royce says it offers 44,000 color variations for the exterior paint alone. Owners can specify the color of the soft-top, or the installation of a fridge in the trunk, or deck out the interior with personalized logos, or just about anything else. It's all part of the fun of owning a vehicle of this caliber.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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