Rolls-Royce 200EX Concept to Debut in Geneva
By Chris Haak
The long-rumored and often spy-photographed “Baby Rolls” or RR4 has finally broken cover via a press release last evening from Rolls-Royce, and it’s called the 200EX in concept form. The word “concept” is used lightly in this context, however, because the car shown is said to be a nearly identical match to the production car (which will be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show later in 2009, and will go on sale in 2010 with a non-alphanumeric name).
The nickname “Baby Rolls” is something of a misnomer, because the car – while smaller than the Rolls-Royce Phantom – is still a very big car. The car is built on a modified version of the new BMW 7-series platform, but supposedly only shares 20% of its parts with the BMW flagship. Underhood (or “underbonnet” if you prefer) will be a “new V12” with unknown specifications (at least at this time).
The car seems to wear the classic Rolls-Royce shape and design cues far better than the hulking and somewhat awkward-looking Phantom sedan. The lines have been softened in the 200EX and it’s actualy a fairly handsome car. A modern interpretation of the classic Rolls-Royce grille is found on the front and really seems to work fairly well for this car. Headlamps are all-LED, of course. The profile features 20 inch wheels, chrome suicide doors (but with a fixed B-pillar for safety), short front overhang, and an interesting line that sweeps from the front fender to the bottom of the doors, keeping the side of the car fairly interesting.
The smallest Rolls is intended to be more of a driver’s car than a chauffeur’s car. To reinforce that, the dashboard’s layout is simplified versus the Phantom’s, and the 200EX has a version of BMW’s iDrive (though it’s called an “ergonomic roller-ball control”). Interior materials are ultra high quality, and include soft, natural grain Crème Light leather, with Cornsilk carpets and cashmere blend headliner (no furry cardboard here). The interior’s wood veneer is Santos Palissander, which according to the company, was chosen for its “contemporary look and striking grain.” Other interior touches include frosted lamps, violin-key switches, chrome door handles, opaque dials, and “refined instrumentation.”
Of the two English marques that have featured traditional styling seemingly forever – Jaguar and Rolls-Royce – Jaguar was the first to make the decision to nearly cleanly break with its past with vehicles such as the XF sedan and XK coupe. To this writer, the Rolls-Royce 200EX has taken a step away from the nearly cartoonish, cliched traditional Rolls-Royce styling cues found in the Phantom sedan. Jaguar managed to create beautiful cars that still look like they’re Jaguars without the crutch of looking like a car right out of the 1960s. While the Rolls-Royce 200EX has not yet made a clean break from the hulking, vertical tank-like persona of previous Rolls models, it’s definitely a step in the right direction from a styling standpoint.
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