You know, open air motoring can be described as refreshing, exhilarating, or, in some cases, bracing. But it’s usually a stretch to call it civilized. For one thing, the wind is constantly blowing your head around. The ride often leaves you sweaty, gritty and sunburned, and there’s always that chance of a rogue shower. Well, the latest Rolls Royce Corniche convertible can’t change any of that, but it will certainly make you feel more civilized.
After all, civilized motoring is what Rolls Royce is all about. And, especially civilized is this Corniche Convertible, the first all-new Rolls soft-top in a generation. Each hand-built edition is a one-off, custom order. Making this easily one of the rarest of all cars. And one of the biggest! The 6,031 pound Corniche stretches almost 18-feet from bow-to- stern and rides on a 120.5-inch wheelbase, and measures 6-feet-9-inches across, from mirror to mirror.
The fabric convertible top blends beautifully with the modernized, but still classical Rolls Royce lines. Though we must admit to being quite disappointed to find a plastic rear window. Opening the top requires just a press of a single switch. And it stores smoothly away beneath a flush-fitting chrome-trimmed decklid. Thus allowing you to enjoy both the open air exhibition, and the incredible opulence of the interior’s fine wood veneers, hand stitched Connoly hides, and Wilton wool carpeting. As well as just about every luxury and convenience feature that you can possibly fit on four wheels.
To motivate this Queen Mary of the motorcar set, Rolls Royce equips the Corniche Convertible with its also hand-built, if venerable, 6.7-liter pushrod turbocharged V8. Rolls never quotes horsepower figures, although 325 is about right. Yet Rolls does admit to a massive torque figure of 544 pound-feet, all available at only 2,100 rpm. What Rolls Royce describes as “more than adequate” power pushes the Corniche to 60 in only 6.5 seconds. And through the 1/4 mile in 15 seconds at 92 miles-per-hour. Throttle-based traction control is standard.
More important to owners is that power flows like cream through a silky-smooth 4-speed automatic gearbox, and down to 17-inch alloy wheels shod with WR-rated 255/55 series tires. Keeping those tires in contact with the pavement is Rolls Royce’s load leveling Automatic Ride Control. On the street, it delivers a smooth, almost floating, ride. Though if the road turns rough, there’s a noticeable increase in body vibration as the suspension works hard to compensate for ripples and potholes.
Run at a moderate pace on our test track, however, the Corniche feels well balanced with only a slight front end push. But push a little harder, and the front end digs in, trying to push the back end around. Fortunately steering feedback is excellent at all speeds, which helps you keep the Corniche pointed in the right direction.
To stop such a substantial car, Rolls Royce uses anti-lock-equipped, 340mm disc brakes which bring it down from 60 in an average of only 125 feet. Impressive for such a heavyweight sun worshiper.
And the heavy price is even more impressive. Each of the handful of Corniche Convertibles built this year will carry a starting price of $359,990. Now that’s before $16,100 in luxury tax! For perspective, that’s enough to buy all three of the V-12 offerings in the Mercedes- Benz lineup ö or make a good start on that mini-mansion. But then, if you’re really interested in a Rolls Royce, housing is probably already taken care of.
So, you’re free to enjoy the rarer things in life, like an extended top-down tour in a Corniche Convertible. And, while your head will still be blown around, your skin still susceptible to sunburn, and everything still vulnerable to a rogue shower, one thing is for sure. Civilization, as you know it, will be forever changed.
Engine: 6.7-Liter Turbocharged V8
Torque: 544 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 6.5 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 15 Seconds @ 92 MPH
60-0 MPH: 125 Feet