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Car of the Year 2009: No. 7: Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé

Gregory Anderson, Paul Dean and Marco R. della Cava

The Suit Fits
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé is what would happen if the BMW 7 Series were built on Savile Row. Forget that only contortionists will be able to sit in the rear quarters for more than 15 minutes at a time. Forget also the sticker price and the novelty or necessity of a starlight headliner, suicide doors with hidden umbrellas, and double-R center hubs that always stay right side up. Consider only that with the Phantom Coupé, you get a car that offers top-notch transportation for a front-seat passenger, as well as a bit of fun for drivers of ultimate machines. —Gregory Anderson


Inner Peace
In his autobiography, The Summing Up, W. Somerset Maugham noted, "Perfection has one grave defect: It is apt to be dull." The author may well have been exiting a Rolls-Royce Phantom (the car’s heyday coincided with Maugham’s, in the 1930s), the latest of which, the Phantom Coupé, features an engine that performs in almost total silence, doors that open and close with a hiss, and a gearbox that delivers imperceptible shifts. This detachment from the driving experience can be dull, but aloof isolation is what Rolls-Royce owners expect for their $405,000—that and incomparable interior woods, leathers, and other extravagances, all assembled by hand and built to last several lifetimes. These traditions began with Rolls-Royce more than a century ago, are continued in 2009 by the Phantom Coupé, and, as long as flawlessness remains a virtue, should survive another 100 years. —Paul Dean


Rolling Right Along
This 5,776-pound land yacht is an especially endangered species given the tenor of these eco-focused times. But even if the end is nigh, there will always be those eager to sit on the Titanic sipping Champagne while a quartet saws away nearby. Driving the Phantom Coupé is everything you might imagine it to be, namely effortless to the point of being boring. There is a sport mode that will bring some of those 453 horses to the fore, but why bother? The important thing here is simply to enjoy the ride, even if it’s to nowhere. —Marco R. della Cava


Configuration Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe
Engine 6.75-liter V-12
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Power 453 hp at 5,350 rpm
Torque 531 ft lbs at 3,500 rpm
Zero to 60 5.6 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph
Base Price $405,000
Price as Tested $428,525
Robb Report Rating 86.8
Rolls-Royce motor cars, www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com

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