Four Phantoms

We were recently given an opportunity to drive Rolls-Royce's complete line of vehicles, which currently consists of only four models.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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A driver's car?

Our first outing was in the Phantom sedan. While the Phantom can hustle quite well, this is a vehicle for a driver who likes reserved and understated performance rather than outright speed.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Coach doors

Coach doors are a trademark of the Rolls-Royce Phantom line. Just don't call them "suicide doors" around your friendly Rolls rep.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Stationary center caps

In the center of the 22-inch wheels, we find my favorite detail on the Phantom: the RR center caps, which are stationary and do not rotate with the wheels, meaning the double-R logo is always upright.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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The Spirit of Ecstasy

Rising from the top of the grill, the Spirit of Ecstasy adds a classic look that can only be created with a gaudy hood ornament. When the vehicle is parked, the ornament retracts into the grill, safe from sticky fingers.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Air ride suspension

When parked, the Phantom sits long and low, but raises itself a few centimeters when started. For clearing particularly tall speed bumps, the suspension can be raised even further at the touch of a button.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Crouching Phantom, hidden tech

Most of the Rolls' cabin tech is hidden by default. The LCD screen, the telephone keypad, and control knob all hide behind wood panels until called upon. Peek in the glove compartment and you'll also find an iPod connection.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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iDrive reloaded

Rolls-Royce's LCD interface is a reskin of parent company BMW's old iDrive system and is just as much of a user-interface nightmare. Roll-Royce representatives stated that there is currently no plan to update the interface to the newer, better iDrive.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Control knob

The interface is navigated using this very iDrive-esque control knob. When not in use, it tucks away so as not to clutter the interior.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Split-view camera

A pair of front-bumper-mounted cameras display a split view of what's coming from the left and right, which is helpful because the Rolls' nose is about 6 or 7 feet in front of the driver's.

A backup camera is also available.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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An oddball gauge

Where an average car would feature a tachometer, the Phantom has a Power Reserve meter that shows what percentage of the engine's capability you're currently not using. It's a constant reminder that the V-12 engine isn't even breaking a sweat.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Lexicon Logic-7 audio

Nine amplifiers, 13 speakers, and a pair of subwoofers mounted in the floor form the 7.1 surround sound Lexicon audio system. With high-quality sources, such as audio CDs or DVD sources, the system sounded fantastic. However, such a high-end audio system exposes the compression flaws of lesser sources, such as satellite radio.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Imposing size

What doesn't come across in photos is the sheer mass of the Phantom. Both long and tall, we found ourselves sitting eye-level with SUV drivers, thanks to the Commanding Seating Position.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Extended wheelbase

The best seat in the house isn't always the one with the steering wheel; the extended wheelbase version of the Phantom Sedan adds 10 inches to the rear door area, creating an impressive amount of leg room.

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Twin seatback monitors

In an impressive display of electronic acrobatics, two 17-inch monitors flip down from the seat backs to entertain rear-seat passengers.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Phantom Coupe

The Phantom Coupe loses two doors and 10 inches of wheelbase relative to the Sedan. Additionally, chassis reinforcements and suspension tuning gives the Coupe a sportier ride. The stainless-steel hood does its part to create a sporty look to match.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Coach doors

Even the Coupe features Rolls-Royce's trademark coach doors. Rear hinged doors are often awkward to close from the driver's seat, but the Phantom Coupe's doors swing shut at the touch of a button.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Trapezoidal exhaust

Dual exhaust tips add a visible and audible sporty demeanor to the Phantom Coupe, setting it apart from its four-door brethren, which hide their exhausts under the bumper.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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6.75-liter, V-12

Under the bonnet of every Phantom is a 6.75-liter, V-12 gasoline engine. Power is rated at 453 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque, which is more than sufficient for motivating the 5,000+ pound warship with gusto.

Expect about 12mpg in the city and 25 on the highway.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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Infinite headroom

It's a Phantom Coupe with a view. The Phantom Drophead lets drivers peel back a cloth top and enjoy the thrills of open-air driving.

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Coupe dimensions

Retaining the same wheelbase as the Phantom Coupe, the Drophead Coupe offers infinite headroom, but a slightly cramped rear seat, which is odd for a vehicle as immense as a Rolls-Royce.

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Picnic boot

The Drophead Coupe's boot is unique in the Phantom line. Rolls calls it a picnic deck and it can support the weight of two adults.

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Teak deck

The Drophead Coupe's teak deck hides the cloth top and makes an interesting nautical fashion statement.

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Unique creations

With 22 paint colors, 52 wood veneers, and 15 leather dye colors (not to mention endless bespoke possibilities), it's quite possible to have a Rolls unlike any other.

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Analog clock

In keeping with tradition, every Rolls-Royce Phantom features an analog clock as the centerpiece of the dashboard, which flips down to cover the LCD screen when not in use.

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