ROLLS-ROYCE is calling the 200EX a concept, but in all but name this is the platinum-plated brand's much-talked-about upcoming new sedan. Rolls hopes that this smaller, less expensive model will attract twice as many buyers as the regal Phantom.
"Smaller" and "less expensive" are relative terms, of course, when you're talking about the new Rolls, which the company refers to as RR4. Overall length is nearly a foot and a half shy of the grandiose Phantom, but the RR4 is some seven inches longer than a long-wheelbase BMW 7-series. And while the price, expected to fall in the range of $250,000 to $280,000, is a veritable bargain next to the big Roller's $382,000, it's hardly Wal-Mart territory.
The design, by Ian Cameron, hews closely to the Phantom look and includes the brand's signature rear-hinged "coach" back doors. Underneath, there are elements of parent company BMW's 7-series, although the RR4 rides on a longer wheelbase. BMW also will supply the V-12 engine - as it does for the Phantom - but the RR4 engine's output will, naturally, come in slightly under the Phantom V-12's 453 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque.
Expect the production RR4 to debut late this year, with sales commencing in 2010. It will be built alongside the Phantom in West Sussex, England, and is expected to boost Rolls-Royce's worldwide sales from 1212 (in 2008) to some 3000 units.