Autocar UK had the opportunity to test drive the recently unveiled Rolls-Royce Phantom 102EX. The one-off 102EX electric is built atop the Phantom bodystyle and will serve as a test bed to gather data which will be crucial in future decisions around electric models going into production. According to the company, the 102EX will spend the rest of the year on a global tour with the aim of getting feedback from ‘owners, VIPs, media and enthusiasts.
Rolls-Royce started with a Phantom and added 16 coats of special paint. The final decision was to use a highly reflective paint with ceramic nano particles to give off the shine of a metallic silver. The final four coats of paint are called Atlantic Chrome, and Rolls-Royce says the paint color becomes more impressive with more light.
The Spirit of Ecstasy gets a blue shade as well, as a sign that it sits on the hood of an electric vehicle. For the 102EX, she’s made of Makrolon.
The 6.75-liter V-12 was replaced by a massive 71-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery housed within the aluminum spaceframe. Rolls-Royce is using large-form NCM pouch cells, or lithium-nickel-cobalt-manganese-oxide to be exact. Due to its experimental nature, the 96 cells are separated into 5 modules (38-, 36-, 10-, 8-, and 4-cell units) and arranged in such a way that the overall battery takes on the shape of an engine and transmission.
The battery weighs 1,411 pounds.
The battery outputs 850 amperes at 338 volts to two electric motors linked to a rear transaxle. The single-speed gearbox takes each motor’s 145 kilowatts (194 horsepower) and sends up to 388 horsepower to the rear wheels. Given its electric nature, the two motors will have up 590 combined pound-feet of torque on demand. The 0-60 mph time is quoted as being under 8 seconds, and there’s a governed top speed of just under 100 mph. A quite impressive performance for such a massive vehicle, around 3,000 kilograms.
The driving range is said to be up to 124 miles. In order to charge the battery, a three-phase charger would need 8 hours, while a single-phase (presumably 220/240V) would take 20 hours. Wireless charging is being trialed as well.
Now let’s have a look at the driving experience as reported by Autocar.
What’s it like?
In truth, this electric drivetrain delivers on the Rolls Royce promise more completely than any internal combustion engine could ever manage.
Although the standard-issue V12 engine is a refined as any engine installation on sale today, and does a very impressive job of mustering up the required rising wall of near-silent torque, it’s the way that the torque of the electric motors move the 102EX down the road that is the game-changer.
The surge of forward motion is so uncannily seamless and relentless that your first instinct is that the Phantom’s V12 motor is rendered instantly redundant.
There are two big advantages over internal combustion engines, even one as refined as the Phantom’s V12. Firstly, at speed and under hard acceleration, you can really sense the lack of mechanical reciprocation behind the bulkhead. The second is the unhindered stream of torque, not just because of the characteristics of electric motors, but because of the lack of ratio swapping.
On the winding backroads of West Sussex, the car was quite uncannily relaxing. Ironically, in a car where the owner might spend all of his time in the rear seat, the pleasure is delivered to the driver.
That’s not to say that the Phantom is much of a B-road animal. The steering on this one-off was rather over-light and the position of the front inside wheel wasn’t quite obvious. However, the ride quality over sudden potholes was slightly better in the 102EX than it was in the standard-issue Phantom I tried back-to-back with the electric car.
Perhaps the biggest problem for a future electric Phantom is the fact that the refinement of the cabin results in tyre noise becoming much more obvious to passengers.