Rolls-Royce Phantom

Rolls-Royce's Phantom is the ultimate display of craftsmanship, engineering and design at its best

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Every Phantom Drophead Coupé takes 350 man hours to build - and it shows. There is no more desirable soft-top in the world. With imposing looks, a sumptuous interior and amazing performance, it's the ultimate display of craftsmanship, engineering and design at their best. For the lucky few on the waiting list, the convertible Rolls promises an incredible ownership experience.

Cars don't get any more extravagant than a Rolls-Royce convertible. The flagship has long represented the most flamboyant, opulent way of open-air driving in the world.

Now, there's a new drop-top from the company on the scene - and Auto Express has driven it. This is the Phantom Drophead Coupé, the model which wowed the crowds at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show when it was revealed as the 100EX concept.

What a stunning car it has turned out to be. It's far more than just a Phantom limousine with the roof removed, and every panel is new - including the rear-hinged doors, which give great access to the cabin.

Amazing detailing abounds, with a brushed steel bonnet and a rear deck made of solid teak. The hood is also a work of art. The largest of any car currently on sale, it has five layers of fabric and is lined with cashmere.

Rolls-Royce says it's more like a bespoke suit than a roof. Of course, it's fully electric and gracefully stows behind the rear seats in only 20 seconds. It takes up space, though, and in order to accommodate it, luggage capacity is a mere 315 litres.

The cabin is expertly trimmed in soft leather, aluminium and beautiful teak wood. And, if it rains, the carpets have been designed to reduce the build-up of humidity inside the car. Add ample space for four adults and you have a fabulously opulent interior. In the interests of safety, there's a pop-up roll-over bar system, too.

Using the same 453bhp 6.75-litre V12 powerplant as the Phantom limousine, the car is virtually silent. It's quick, too - the 2,620kg Drophead Coupé can sprint from 0-62mph in less than six seconds.

Handling is equally impressive - it's surprisingly agile, and there's no scuttle shake whatsoever from the super-stiff chassis. Even with 21-inch wheels, the ride is sublime. While it never feels anything less than enormous, steering is precise and body control excellent. Roof up or down, it dispatches huge distances with ease.

With a price tag reaching more than £300,000 and only a handful of models likely to be sold every year, the Phantom Drophead Coupé maintains Rolls-Royce's tradition of producing glorious convertibles.

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