IT’S the car that money just can’t buy.
Rolls-Royce, based in Goodwood, has brought out an experimental Phantom, the 102EX, and the difference is it’s powered by electricity.
Gone is the V12 engine and the gearbox and the fuel tank in the rear. In its place are 96 lithium pouch cells, the batteries that keep this most luxurious of cars doing 0-60 in just under eight seconds with a torque of 800Nm – less power but more torque than a standard Phantom.
The car is known as the ‘experimental electric’, and those lucky enough to drive it are warned to be extra vigilant of pedestrians who simply won’t be able to hear it coming at low speeds.
It was built in Britain, and the plug-in electric charging point, complete with blue LED lights, was designed by the bespoke team at Goodwood.
It can also be charged using wireless induction technology via a plate underneath the chassis, which would hover over a plate in a garage floor.
The interior leather is dyed with vegetable dye, the first of its kind for a Rolls-Royce.
The Lalique crystal-influenced Spirit of Ecstasy, again with a blue LED light in the base, was produced in Havant.
Another first is the paint, which includes ceramic nanochrystals for extra shine.
The car is being taken around the world for existing customers, enthusiasts and lucky reporters to try out.
Andrew Ball, Rolls-Royce communications manager, said: ‘It’s really an effective market research tool, an opinion-seeking device.
‘This car will never be on the production line.
‘We’ve had people waving chequebooks and giving promises, but the car will never be for sale.
‘This is not an environmental project, this is not about Rolls-Royce being green.
‘This is looking to the future, looking at changes to technology, changes in legislation, changes in attitude.’
The idea is, that if congestion charging in cities lets only electric cars in, Rolls-Royce customers will still be able to get to the office in style and top-of-the-range comfort.
The car was a joy to drive on the country roads around Goodwood, but at 2.5 tonnes it could be a little hard to stop.
See electricluxury.com to join the debate.
How does it feel to drive a car that’s beyond price?
TO SAY I was nervous getting behind the wheel of a priceless car is an understatement.
The steering wheel was on the wrong side, it was an automatic using a steering column shift, and I was warned about the possibility of rolling back on hills.
Oh, and it had an emergency stop button, just in case.
But I soon got the hang of it and relaxed to enjoy the smooth, effortless acceleration, the feeling of wafting, rather than driving, around corners, and the privilege of being one of only a few people invited to get behind the wheel of the 102EX.
I particularly enjoyed, while reversing, the dashboard flipping over in a James Bond style to reveal a screen which displayed the area behind the car. I also loved the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine glowing over the radiator.
It’s just a shame I had to give it back.