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Old April 15th, 2002, 07:27 AM   #1
Magic Mtn Dan
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Countdown To A Major Divorce In The Auto World...

On New Year's Day 2003, BMW gains control of the Rolls-Royce marque from Volkswagen. On that day it also will launch this $220,000 ultra-luxury sedan, code-named RR01.

This lightly camouflaged future Rolls, caught near Copenhagen, boasts potent V-12 power, limolike proportions, space-frame construction and a firstclass interior. BMWs aim is to retain the time*less and classic appeal of pre*vious Rolls-Royce models, while injecting new technolo*gy and features to keep abreast of rivals such as MercedesBenz's mighty Maybach and a new Bentley model from Volkswagen.

This slightly disguised RollsRoyce prototype is one in a fleet of 20 engineer*ing prototypes hitting the roads over the next year as part of a stringent test and development program. The heavy cladding disguising the rear of earlier prototypes is now gone, and now a num*ber of traditional elements including an upright grille, twin rounded head*lamps with additional indi*cator units, a high waistline and shallow side glass - help forge an unmistakable Rolls*-Royce appearance. Also, visible for the first time are the so-called suicide-doors rear side doors hinged opposite to the front side doors.

The RR01s exact dimensions remain under wraps, although insiders say it will eclipse the Silver Seraph in all key areas. Expect a length in excess of 212 inches in shortwheelbase form, with longwheelbase Park Ward variants likely to run close to 235 inches.

Hidden under the long con*toured hood is a sophisti*cated fourvalvepercylinder V-12 petrol engine, engineered to deliver heady levels of torque and bestinclass refinement, to ensure no com*promise of the Rolls tradition of effortless performance. The allalloy unit is a modified version of the NG12 powerplant that made its debut in BMW's E65 7Series earlier this year. Capacity is said to have been boosted to around 6.8 liters well up on the 5.4-*liter V-12 used in the Seraph. The engine also uses BMW's new Variotronic valve timing system to extract high torque. Drive is channeled through BMWs new sixspeed automatic transmission to huge 19-inch rear wheels. Less attention was drawn on acceleration targets for the new car, but it is sure to outsprint the Seraph.

BMW's Roller aims to trounce its rivals with its sophisticated construction, boasting an intricate space* frame that draws on the tech*nology devised by BMW for the Z8 roadster. The aluminum structure uses nonload bearing panels and should guarantee a curb weight under the 5070 pounds of the Seraph. The construction is also highly flexible, meaning the proposed sporting coupe and cabriolet may follow the sedan quickly and relatively inexpensively.

Our sources promise more space inside the new sedan than the Seraph, plus a mix*ture of traditional Connolly hide and walnut, coupled with the latest in communication and entertainment systems.

Production is set to kick off in late 2002. An annual production of just 1000 per year is expected to be built at the Goodwood, U.K., plant, although the body will likely be made in Dingolfing.




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