Phan­tom of your as­pi­ra­tion

The new Rolls Coupe is an an­ti­dote to aus­ter­ity, writes PAUL POT­TINGER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide - For a full pic­ture gallery of the new Rolls-Royce go to cars­guide.com.au

TH­ESE days get­ting from stand­ing to 100km/h in less than six sec­onds is no big­gie. It’s not even such an ex­pen­sive un­der­tak­ing.

Holden and, es­pe­cially, Ford would be glad to sell you the means to do so for sub­stan­tially less than $50,000.

But there is get­ting there, then there’s get­ting there in un­par­al­leled style and com­fort without ap­pear­ing to ex­ert the least ef­fort. It’s a feel­ing only sev­eral su­per-rich Aus­tralians who take de­liv­ery of the new $1 mil­lion-plus Rolls-Royce Phan­tom Coupe this year will know.

And, of course, this ob­scenely for­tu­nate carsGuider who has been given a preview of the only Coupe on the con­ti­nent.

So what, I hear some of you mur­mur. How is this au­to­mo­tive em­blem of ex­cess rel­e­vant to the other 99.98 per cent of us? For that mat­ter, isn’t this bor­der­ing on bad taste as aus­ter­ity en­croaches?

Valid points — to which we’d re­spond that any­one who cares for cars (as op­posed to those who claim to but whose en­thu­si­asm goes no fur­ther than Holden or Ford) would care to know of what is ar­guably the world’s best.

‘‘No one needs a $1 mil­lion car,’’ says Triv­ett Clas­sic Rolls-Royce’s Bevin Clay­ton, the man who will sell 22 of them this year. (In­deed, for the rough equiv­a­lent of the lux­ury car tax on the Rolls — some $300,000 — you could buy a Maserati GranTurismo.) ‘‘But once you have driven one, it’s aw­fully hard to go back.’’

That’s some­thing likely to be ap­pre­ci­ated by the first time Roller buy­ers the Coupe is ex­pected to at­tract. Clay­ton says the sheer scale of the Phan­tom sedan — to say noth­ing of the long-wheel­base ver­sion — would have in­tim­i­dated them, not to men­tion the ex­po­sure of the glo­ri­ous Drop­head Coupe. In re­al­ity, the Coupe is no less im­pos­ing on the road. In some re­spects, it’s the most aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing of the three so far, com­bin­ing the best at­tributes of the oth­ers.

From the front three-quar­ters it re­ally couldn’t be any­thing else. The Spirit of Ec­stasy is, as ever, perched on a sil­ver grille that fills rear-vi­sion mir­rors and silently bids those in front to merge left. The bon­net is fa­mil­iar pol­ished metal­lic, con­trast­ing in this case to deeply re­flec­tive Di­a­mond Black paint. The shoul­der­line is em­pha­sised with twin deepred pin­stripes, painted by hand with ox-tail brushes.

The Coupe’s in­di­vid­u­al­ity be­comes ap­par­ent as you peer in at the cabin’s ma­hogany pan­elling.

If back­seat pas­sen­gers lack the amenity of the sedan, even the tallest have more than am­ple room as they stare at the ceil­ing, in which dozens of tiny LED lights con­vey the im­pres­sion of a star­lit night.

Crack ei­ther rear-hinged sui­cide door and all is as you would hope — ex­panses of ma­hogany-coloured hide, sil­ver switches and what Clay­ton says is a slightly thicker ver­sion of that spindly, old-world steer­ing wheel.

En­gage the sil­ver ‘‘S’’ but­ton on the steer­ing wheel, punch the ac­cel­er­a­tor and the Coupe’s 2.6 tonnes and 5.6m con­sume the land­scape with trade­mark ‘‘waft’’ and new as­sertive­ness. When shoved, the oth­er­wise al­most silently purring 6.75-litre V12 per­mits it­self a res­o­nant tim­bre. Not a rum­ble. That would be un­couth.

Mainly though, the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on our jaunt through the Coupe’s nat­u­ral habi­tat of Syd­ney’s east­ern sub­urbs is a case of ef­fort­less majesty, a near-ethe­real feel­ing that puts ev­ery pre­tender to the ul­tra­lux­ury throne firmly in their place.

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