Rolls Royce 200EX revealed

23 Feb, 2009 12:25pm Sam Hardy

Spirit of legendary British luxury car maker lives on in son of Phantom...

Feast your eyes on Rolls-Royce’s new baby! These are the first official pictures of a smaller, more compact version of the Phantom that’s set to go on sale in 2010, gunning for top-end versions of Mercedes’ S-Class and the Bentley Continental Flying Spur.

Making its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show next week, the long-anticipated ‘baby’ Rolls Royce will be revealed in the form of this thinly disguised concept car, which carries the codename 200EX.

The EX tag has been used throughout Rolls-Royce’s history to denote almost showroom-ready ‘experimental’ models – the Phantom carried the 100EX badge when it was revealed in Geneva in 2004, for example – and this newcomer continues that trend.

Being the fourth Rolls Royce to be unveiled since the firm was taken over by BMW in 2003, it’s internally referred to as RR4 –but it could resurrect the famous Silver Ghost name when it arrives in two years’ time.

As you can see, the 200EX takes much of its visual inspiration from the Phantom with overhangs that are short at the front and long at the rear.

The Rolls Royce grille takes pride of place, bearing the Spirit of Ecstasy and flanked by rectangular headlights, while details such as rear-hinged ‘coach-style’ doors and a tapering tail are replicated too.
However, look closer and you’ll see that the grille is slightly different. “We wanted this to be less reminiscent of the traditional ‘Parthenon’ style and more like a jet intake,” says chief designer, Ian Cameron, so the sides are curved inwards and the vanes set back into the opening.

The narrow headlights are LED units too while the circular lower spotlights, as seen on the Phantom, are blanked off. The A-pillar is also more sharply raked, there are larger uninterrupted surfaces and the roof is lower, all creating a simpler shape. The 200EX is painted in Darkest Tungsten, contrasting with the silver satin finish applied to the bonnet and A-pillars. Vast 20-inch seven-spoke wheels complete the look.

Sitting on a heavily modified platform shared with BMW’s latest 7-Series, the 200EX may be smaller than the Phantom, but it’s not what you’d call compact. At 5.4m, it’s longer than the BMW 750iL by almost 19cm and is just 44cm shorter than the Phantom itself. With a wheelbase of nearly 3.3m – against 3.2m for a BMW 750iL – there should be ample legroom in the rear for passengers.

Under the bonnet lies a new engine that’s unique to the 200EX. Developed from the Phantom’s BMW-sourced V12 engine, the unit measures 6.0-litres rather than 6.75-litres and is expected to produce around 450bhp and 600Nm of torque – compared to the Phantom’s 460bhp and 720Nm.
Even weighing over two tonnes, that should be enough punch for a 0-60mph time of around six seconds and a top speed of 150mph.

Inside, the 200EX is designed to be contemporary yet luxurious with the finest leather and wood veneers used throughout. The dashboard has been simplified for an uncluttered look and a new innovation is the ‘roller-ball control’ on the centre console, which is similar to BMW’s iDrive and allows the driver to access many of the car’s systems through a mouse-like rotating ball.

“The 200EX is a modern execution of timeless Rolls-Royce elegance, breaking with some areas of tradition but retaining the core values that make our marque unique,” explained Rolls-Royce CEO Tom Purves. “We expect the more informal, agile design to broaden the appeal of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, attracting people who appreciate its fusion of refinement, new technology and contemporary style.” No prices have been revealed as yet but expect the 200EX to start at around £180,000.