At the core of the Coupé is a sophisticated, all-aluminium spaceframe, first seen in the Phantom. It provides an exceptional base for the car, offering great strength, a very high degree of torsional rigidity and low weight, all of which benefit dynamics. Manufactured to within a tolerance of just 0.1 mm / 0.004 in, each spaceframe is constructed by hand and then checked by computer to ensure total accuracy. The body’s structure, comprised of box sections of aluminium, is painstakingly hand-welded by a team of experts. Every morning, each member of the team performs a 300 mm test weld to ascertain atmospheric effects on the metal with which they are working so that these can be taken into account. In all, more than 130 metres of weld are used to create the Coupé’s spaceframe.
The Phantom Coupé’s lightweight and rigid structure, the most torsionally stiff in the Phantom line, provides the foundation for its excellent dynamic abilities, but it also offers safety benefits. The box sections are exceptionally strong and offer greater dispersion of energy in the event of a collision. Frontal impacts are absorbed by crumple zones that direct the force into Y-shaped chassis members and the main understructure, the strongest part of the chassis. Side impact intrusion is minimised by the double-skinned floor construction, side sills and integral side impact bars in each door.
The inherent safety of the spaceframe is enhanced by other safety systems controlled by ISIS (Intelligent Safety and Information System). This takes readings from sensors located throughout the car and, in the event of an impact, makes up to 4000 calculations a second to establish its severity, deploying safety systems as necessary. These include intelligent braking and restraint systems, such as Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control, seatbelt pre-tensioners and any of six airbags.
With the exception of the picnic boot, steel bonnet and A-pillar surround, all the Coupé’s panels are created from aluminium, a material that delivers a substantial weight saving over steel. The large, single-piece front wings are made by a process called super plastic forming. The alloy is heated and then formed, without stress of the material, to the required shape and size in a process seen for the first time in the automotive industry.
At the heart of the Coupé is the same 6.75-litre V12 engine as used by the Phantom. Featuring advanced direct fuel injection with variable valve lift and timing, it offers the perfect combination of power and outstanding combustion efficiency. Designed to develop massive low-down torque, it delivers 75 per cent of its maximum power at just 1000 rpm, giving the smooth, unstressed performance associated with Rolls-Royce cars. The powertrain develops 453 bhp / 338 kW of power at 5350 rpm and 720 Nm / 531 lb ft of torque at 3500 rpm – ample for even the most enthusiastic of drivers. At 100 mph (where permissible), the Coupé’s power reserve dial shows that 90 per cent of the engine’s power remains untapped.Published 17 February 2008