Rolls-Royce, as a brand, has stood for bespoke luxury and elegance. The Ghost and the Phantom are just two - well, significant two - cars built on the idea of delivering to their most opulent customers unparalleled luxury an a no-compromise package. But even this historic company knows that if it doesn’t innovate starting now, it could lose it’s throne of building some of the best cars on earth.
At the magnificent London Roundhouse, Rolls-Royce (being a part of the BMW group) introduced its VISION NEXT 100 vehicle. It is codenamed the 103EX, and is a wild take on the luxury of the future. It is hard to explain, actually, what inspired this design; it combines the timelessness of the past and the flowing lines of the future. And this is where the weirdness begins.
There is a lot to the design that is distinctly Rolls-Royce. Rare materials, hand-twisted silk and hand-crafted Macassar wood are designed to envelop the passengers while they are ridden by an artificial intelligence. The sharp headlamps and the iconic Pantheon grille, the hand-sculpted aluminium wheels and the wide, long wheelbase body are attributes of abundant space and advanced technology. But there is something not-so-futuristic about this design too - doesn’t the 103EX express the looks of a real classic from the 1900s? And would you really want the wheels of you car to be covered?
The press note explains how the ‘Grand Arrival’ of this car to pick up its passengers. In involves a tremendous glass canopy and a fake red carpet:
Hinged on the left of the vehicle, the glass canopy lifts to allow the occupant to stand whilst providing shelter from above and behind. Then, in one effortless movement, the single coach door sweeps open and a step emerges from below the running board. As a final flourish, a red light is projected, carpet-like, from the underside of the step as a welcome.
Rolls-Royce hasn’t made any compromises when it comes to technology. This car is obviously an electric, autonomous car. What’s not obvious is the fact that this car comes with an AI driver - aptly named ‘Eleanor’. Eleanor lives on the car’s computer and is your personal chauffeur. You talk to Eleanor and ask it questions. But you can also see what Eleanor is doing on the giant transparent OLED panel in the interior.
The electric drivetrain has clearly enabled Rolls-Royce to deliver a crazy (and almost unnecessary) amount of space inside the car. With the giant front engine gone, Rolls-Royce could incorporate a luggage compartment there. And although there is only one silk draped sofa in there for just two lucky individuals, the interior has enough space for four to sit comfortably. Oh well, don’t even complain - this is Rolls-Royce. I told you, it is weird.
The 103EX is a great car, undoubtedly, if you can even afford it. But the 103EX also feels like an overdone concept. The essentials of the future car are present, but the exuberance it brings along is more than awkward. Be it the 1950s styled body imbibing the technology of the 2050s or the unnecessary amount of space for a two-seater, this concept car is, by definition, made for the uber successful. It’s not a bad thing though - you wouldn’t mind ‘floating’ away in a Rolls-Royce while carrying your presence for others to see. But for the majority of earth, this car will be an odd ode to the long lasting legacy of Rolls-Royce motors.
Source: Rolls-Royce Press
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