Downsizing, Rolls-Royce style

  • 09-Jul-2008 01:36 EDT
Rolls-Royce 1.jpg

Just a hazy outline at present, the Rolls-Royce RR4 will become a substantial addition to the company’s range in 2010.

Downsizing is not just the prerogative of volume producers; as expected, Rolls-Royce has announced that it is also taking the (relatively) more compact design route with an all-new model. The car, code-named RR4, will be built at its Goodwood plant in the UK and will be launched in 2010.

Although Rolls has released two hazy, sketched impressions of the model, details of its design and mechanical elements have yet to come. Rolls confirmed that the new RR4 would be smaller than the company’s current Phantom and powered by a new engine “unique to Rolls-Royce.”

The company is not discussing it further, but it will probably be a V8 with a capacity different from anything currently in the BMW range. (Rolls-Royce is part of BMW). It will definitely be a gasoline unit, although the company is understood to be at least considering the possibility of a diesel in the midterm. A hybrid drivetrain is also likely to be in the works—particularly apposite for a car of this type and class.

With regard to diesel powerplants, it is felt that at present their associated NVH elements are not sufficiently refined to meet Rolls-Royce criteria, but advances in diesel technology and in associated engine mounting and noise attenuation could eventually make them viable.

Some BMW components and parts such as the wiring loom will be used in the RR4, but it is expected that most of its components will be unique. More details about the car will be released during 2009.

But a “baby” Rolls it will not be. Chief Designer Ian Cameron has indicated that it is certainly not going to be in the compact class. It is expected to be sized somewhere between a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the Phantom. U.S. pricing will probably be between $250,000 and $300,000 before taxes; in the UK it will be between £170,000 and £190,000 including VAT (value added tax).

Engineering development of the RR4 is now in full flow, the design having been signed off in 2007. The Goodwood plant is already being prepared to produce the car, with significant investment and extensive reconfiguration including installation of a second assembly line and extended paint, wood, and leather shops. The company is scheduled to move to a two-shift system next year in preparation for production start-up of the RR4.

Rolls has decided to give the new car more driver appeal, which will separate it from its stately sibling.

“Effortless performance and standard-setting levels of comfort and efficiency, executed with the utmost care and attention, remain fundamentals of Rolls-Royce design,” Cameron said, but he added: “The RR4 has a more informal presence than the Phantom models, with a greater emphasis on driving. In design terms, this is expressed through its slightly smaller dimensions and more organic form, yet with powerful, purposeful proportions. It is a true and uncompromising Rolls-Royce in every sense.”

“RR4 will mark a milestone in the history of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars," said Chairman Ian Robertson. "The business continues to go from strength to strength, and the introduction of this new model will expand the appeal of the brand. We look forward to this next chapter with anticipation and confidence."

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