21 February 2009

This is how one Rolls

Bigger than a 7-Series, £250,000: it’s the small, affordable new Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce 200EX

More pictures of the Rolls-Royce 200EX

This is the Rolls-Royce 200EX, a concept that previews the affordable new baby Roller set to go on sale later this year.

Remember, though, that words like ‘affordable and ‘baby’ are relative when you’re talking about Rollers. So what you’re looking at is a £250,000 super-saloon (of sorts) that’s bigger than a long-wheelbase BMW 7-Series… with enough space between the axles to park a Toyota iQ.

If you want to get an idea of the scale, consider that those modest wheels are 20-inchers. Though the 200EX is 43cm shorter than the Phantom and 8cm lower, it’s still a beast.

The 7-Series reference is apposite: the 200EX shares similar chassis architecture and should benefit from BMW’s engine mastery. It will be powered by a 500bhp V12, but not the same as the Phantom’s – it’ll be a new unit with, we suspect, BMW’s clever twin-turbo technology: good news for consumption and CO2.

The 200EX may be a concept, but it isn’t one of the clay-and-foam models rolled out by the piteous proletariat manufacturers. This is a fully-functional concept. armed with a grand set of suicide doors which open, says Rolls, to an angle of 83 degrees, giving the 200EX the widest rear access in the car industry. If you’ve got a wide rear, this is the car for you: those rear-hinging doors will definitely make production.

Unlike the aluminium-bodied Phantom, the 200EX is built from steel, which has a higher tensile strength and can therefore be made thinner: good news for interior space. As you’d expect, the 200EX’s cabin is as sumptuously appointed as Alan Stanford’s master bedroom, with wood and thick carpets and even cashmere. Mmm.

Expect the 200EX to provide a more (whisper it) dynamic driving experience, if you’re uncouth enough to try such a thing. We’ll see it in the metal in Geneva in a couple of weeks before the production version turns up late in the year.

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