In a nutshell
Rolls-Royce's new convertible is today laid bare in this revealing set of spyshots. CAR Online's spies have captured the soft-top inside and out, roof up and roof down. The four-seat, V12 luxury cabrio will be unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January 2007.
What it does/ how it looks
What does the Corniche do? It provides land-based transport for the disgustingly rich, after they've stepped off their yachts in St Tropez. The Corniche is the traditional badge for a Rolls convertible, which takes its name from the French region so beloved by Rolls co-founder Henry Royce. The Corniche is, of course, a soft-top version of the Phantom limousine, though shorter and more wieldy. The design is true to the 100EX concept, unveiled in 2004. So the two-door production car gets the concept's tailored nose, with a thin sliver of LED lamps atop a circular headlamp, and swept back grille. It's the most rakish in Rolls-Royce's ramrod straight history.
Under the skin
The Corniche is spun off the Phantom's aluminium spaceframe chassis. But the engineers have shaved 200mm from the limo's overall length, by reducing the wheelbase and overhangs. The suspension is also being tuned to feel more dynamic then the Phantom's, although the Corniche will still specialise in imperious wafting. Thanks to the light but rigid chassis, the cabrio should not require heavy additional bracing to compensate for the lost rigidity. With an upgrade expected for the 6.7-litre V12, which already produces 453bhp and 531lb ft, Corniche acceleration will be even more effortless than the limo's.
The inside story
Access to the sumptuous rear seats is via a pair of rear-hinged doors, ideal for stately access with no fear of knicker flashing. But this Rolls is for driving, not being chauffeured in. The dashboard is nigh on identical to the Phantom's. Expect the concept's bleached teak finish, reminiscent of a yacht's decking, to be offered as an option.
How much and when?
Deliveries should start soon after the Corniche's January 2007 unveiling. A coupe version will follow in 2008, as previewed by the 101EX show car. The price? Accountants look away now. It could be as much as £250,000. But if you've got it, flaunt it.