GOODWOOD, England -- Everything about the $320,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom sedan that debuts at this week's Detroit auto show is new - except the name.
The tall, formal, square-faced model is BMW AG's new vision of an old brand. It's also a competitor to a new brand, the Maybach, launched last year by DaimlerChrysler. Each aims at the world's super-rich. But their design approaches are wildly different.
While the Maybach is long, low and sleek, this new Rolls-Royce has the bulk and stance of a Sherman tank. It is chief designer Ian Cameron's modern interpretation of famous models from Rolls-Royce history, with front wheels far forward and a long, formal hood.
It is also one of the industry's most remarkable-looking products in years,
The traditional Rolls-Royce grille gives the Phantom an uncompromisingly blunt nose.
The car is more than 5 feet tall - 64.3 inches. The forward-placed front wheels create a gigantic wheelbase of 140.6 inches. The huge wheels are 21.6 inches in diameter, and the tires are 31.1 inches.
Wide C-pillars and a small rear window provide privacy for rear-seat occupants. Just as remarkable are the rearward-opening rear doors, commonly known as suicide doors. The combination of a high roofline and nearly flat floor provides for elegant entry and exit at the rear.
For BMW, which also owns Mini, the new Rolls-Royce is part of a strategy to cover the market with a portfolio of upscale brands.