Waftability: the ability to float or be transported gently through the air. As strange as it sounds, it’s the perfect way to describe the sublime sensation of a Rolls-Royce gliding—no, wafting—down the street.
The newest Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé—$479,200 base or $569,000 nicely loaded—is a wizard of waftability. The way the suspension vacuums up lumps and bumps and delivers a ride akin to driving on a bed of marshmallow is just breathtaking.
Others try to mimic the way the Rolls rolls on air, but no one has come close. It’s the brilliant combination of perfectly tuned suspension, a stiff aluminum space frame chassis and a body that weighs the equivalent of a small Caribbean island.
Naturally, its waftability comes from a V-12 engine that packs a delicious 453-horsepower and a mighty 531 pound-feet of torque. When you squeeze the accelerator, there is something otherworldly about the way this Downton Abbey-sized leviathan gathers speed.
The traffic disappearing in your rear-view tells you you’re moving quickly. But there’s no noise from beneath that mile-long hood, no soaring of engine revs, no booming exhaust. As the speedo needle sweeps around the elegant dial, all you hear is the sound of sleeping babies exhaling.
Rolls-Royce engineers will talk about zero-to-60 mph acceleration in 5.6 seconds, but that’s irrelevant. All you need to know is it’s blissfully fast. This car will outsprint irksome paparazzi outside the Ritz in London or rush you to your table at the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco.
Arguably the most important number to know is 25. That’s how many seconds it takes for the Phantom Drophead Coupé to lower its hand-stitched, five-layer top and transform the car into a rolling tanning bed.
Piloting this Rolls on a balmy Florida evening is magical, especially with the top down, sexy tunes playing on the 600-watt, 15-speaker Lexicon Logic7 stereo and nowhere to go. Luxuriate on the armchair-like front seats in this ocean of wood and leather, elevated above the surrounding hoi polloi, and enjoy one of the greatest motoring experiences around.
Of course, owners need to be prepared for the head turns and stares. No matter how subtle the shade of gray exterior paint—and there are 44,000 colors to pick from—this car tends to scream, “Look at me!”
Why shouldn’t it? This is a stunning piece of rolling opulence. From that massive polished waterfall grille to the 21-inch polished alloy rims—a $10,900 option—to the rear teak deck made of 30 hand-finished planks of oiled timber, this car exudes class and style from every pore.
Just entering and exiting the car is a piece of Hollywood theater. The vast “coach” doors are hinged at the rear and swing with the velocity and purpose of a bank vault door. Can’t reach the door to pull it closed? Don’t worry; at the press of a discreet button, the door powers shut.
There are a couple less-than-impressive features. Despite the car’s huge proportions, back seat legroom is teeny. And getting to the rear requires a rather inelegant, head-down, backside-up approach.
Rear-seat riders probably won’t enjoy the top-down experience, either. At speeds not much above walking pace, the rush of air is akin to standing behind a 747 jet on takeoff.
But for those with the means to afford the half-million-dollar asking price, there is no finer convertible in the world, no more splendid way of being wafted along.
Price: From $479,200
Engine: 6.8-liter V-12
Torque: 531 pound-feet
Transmission: 8-speed automatic 0-60: 5.6 seconds
Top Speed: 150 mph
Length/Width: 220.9/78.2 inches
Weight: 5,995 pounds
Why We Love It: Because it is simply the finest, most desirable, most beautifully constructed open-top car in the world.