Rolls-Royce will show its new ‘baby’ car – though these things are relative – at the upcoming 2009 Geneva motor show, a year before sales commence in spring 2010. The Geneva ‘concept’ car is tagged 200EX but don’t be fooled by the experimental suffix. It’s the real thing – Rolls’ new £180,000 RR4 saloon (the production name is still secret).
The smaller Rolls rides on a bespoke unitary chassis though it shares various floorpan pieces, some suspension hardware, steering rack and various other bits with the latest BMW 7-series. Twenty percent of all components are shared with BMW Group cars, including the electrics.
Nonetheless engineering boss Helmut Riedl promises the RR4 will ride as well as a Phantom – it uses Phantom-style air springs – and, what’s more, will be a more engaging drive. The engine is a new BMW V12, which will also be fitted to the latest 7. It will be specially tuned, in the RR4, to deliver more low-down torque to produce that special Rolls ‘waftability’.
The RR4 is aimed at those who can’t quite stretch to £264,000 for a Phantom, or who find the bigger Rolls a touch too ostentatious. Wealthy businessmen are special targets. It competes – sort of – with the Bentley Continental Flying Spur and upper-end Mercedes S-classes, although pricing is well above.
Styling, slightly disappointingly, is mini-me Phantom and is also more mainstream: the grille, for instance, is as much conventional car as Greek temple. Pleasingly, the rear coach ‘suicide’ doors are maintained, and the cabin uses the same quality handcrafted leather and wood.
In length, height and width, the RR4 sits between long-wheelbase BMW 7-series and Phantom: it bridges the gap between a ‘normal’ luxury car and the super-special Phantom. As Rolls-Royce CEO Tom Purves puts it, ‘it’s a Rolls-Royce that you can comfortably leave on a parking meter’.
Need to Know – Rolls-Royce 200EX (RR4)
How price: About £180,000
On sale in UK: Spring 2010
Engine: BMW V12, TBA cc, TBA bhp, TBA torque
Transmission: TBA – but likely to be ZF 7-speed automatic
How heavy/made of: TBA/steel
How big (length/width/height) in mm: 5399/1948/1550
>> We’ll have more on the Rolls-Royce EX200 at the Geneva motor show on 3 March. Stay tuned