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Fiji Time: 3:40 AM on Saturday 19 April

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Experience the flying lady

Frederica Elbourne
Saturday, January 12, 2013

IT'S worth twice the average American home, weighs more than a Cadillac Escalade and is a seriously powerful ride.

All hail the 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe, described by this week's Motoring cover page driver, professional photographer and entrepreneur Shiri Ram, as the car of all cars.

Not that he has experienced a ride in the Phantom.

"I haven't actually experienced the '25 Phantom. Just images. The design of the 1925 Phantom coupe is the best of any Phantom ever made. Probably sells for round a million dollars US so you see that this will just remain a dream for me," he said.

There was a limited edition of 100 specially trimmed 2011 coupe, pronounced coo-pay by the British, American motor vehicle website www.edmunds.com said.

The limited edition was built to celebrate the centennial of the "Spirit of Ecstasy" hood ornament, www.edmunds.com said.

According to the website www.edmunds.com, the 2011 coupe is the only range with rearward-opening doors.

Nothing says prestige, presence and size on the grandest of scales like the two-door version of the Phantom sedan.

The shorter wheelbase and sport tuned suspension makes the ride more responsive to drive while

Rich leather adorned with beautifully finished wood and accented lustrous chrome make quite a statement for the cabin of this ride, www.edmunds.com said.

"The carpets are made of deep-pile sheepskin so plush it'll have passengers taking off their shoes. So as to allow easy and graceful loading of passengers and luggage, the doors open rearward while the trunk opens like a picnic basket with a two-piece lid," www.edmunds.com said.

To add to the glamour, there is the optional "Starlight Headliner" - which turns the inner roof into a starry night sky through fiber-optic lights that shine through tiny holes.

The 100th anniversary of the iconic "Spirit of Ecstasy" flying lady hood ornament automatically disappears into the grille when the car is locked to prevent kidnapping, www.edmunds.com said

Of course, paying more than $400,000 for any car seems ridiculous. But then again, the Phantom Coupe is as much a "car" as the Queen is a little old lady.

You're paying for the entire Rolls-Royce experience, including the ability to cruise down the road and draw glances from everyone with a working set of eyes. You may get a bit of that with an Aston Martin DB9, Bentley Continental GT or Maserati GranTurismo, but not in the same way. There is nothing else like the 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe on the road, and by George, for this much money, there had better not be.

The 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is a four-seat ultra luxury coupe with two rear-hinged doors, power-closing doors, a two-piece trunk lid, parking sensors, front and rear heated seats, power front seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, front seat memory functions and multizone climate control.

Standard technology items include Rolls-Royce Assist emergency telematics, a multifunction controller and LCD screen, keyless ignition/entry, voice command functionality, Bluetooth and a navigation system. The audio system is a 15-speaker surround-sound stereo with an in-dash single-CD player, a six-CD changer in the glovebox, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio with a lifetime subscription, www.edmunds.com said.

Rolls-Royce estimates that the Phantom Coupe will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds.

The climate controls are mounted a little low on the dash, however, and they consist of strange thumb wheels instead of dials or buttons with a digital display. More complex functions like the navigation system are managed by an interface similar to BMW's iDrive system, with the trademark mouselike controller hiding inside the center console when not in use and the LCD screen disappearing behind the classic analog clock.

The doors are impressively large and quite heavy, though one doesn't have to yank them shut, as they are power-operated. The Coupe's backseat still provides plenty of adult-sized comfort for hours of high-class travel.

The 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe is really, really big. Driving it through tighter streets can be like piloting the U.S.S. Nimitz through the Erie Canal, requiring you to keep tabs on its wide body while simultaneously peering over the huge front end, which is visible in the distance.

Thankfully the optional split-view front camera provides a left-right side view of crossroads ahead. Given its size, the Coupe is definitely happiest out on the open road, dominating high-speed thoroughfares like a road-going racing yacht, though its sport-tuned chassis helps keep it settled on twisty roads. Despite our repeated nautical references, the smooth ride is not floaty, absorbing broken pavement with nothing but muted thumps.