Unfortunately, there will be no Rolls-Royce Boat Tail moving into Phibsborough in the immediate future.
here’s enough dross about the range of vehicles being tested and making their way to Dalymount Lane without adding the Rolls, which reportedly cost £20m (€24m) and were designed by three customers.
It comes in a very pretty ocean blue and features a parasol that pops up in a butterfly motion from the back. Last year was a record one for luxury car makers like Rolls Royce and Bentley, as the super-rich looked for ways to spend the cash they had hoarded during the pandemic.
Some 5,586 Rolls were delivered in 2021, up 49% on 2020, while nearly 15,000 Bentleys were sold. Yet very few have come that way with just three new Bentleys and two Rolls-Royces sold, according to the latest figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (Simi).
One of the Rolls was the Phantom model, which will cost you at least €500,000 if you spec it a bit. In fact, the past year, despite some predictions, was pretty poor for many high-end – as opposed to super-luxury – brands here.
While the overall market rose 18.80pc, only BMW with a whopping 42.49pc and Porsche up 63pc beat the market. Porsche is still a very marginal choice with just 178 vehicles last year, while BMW is in the top 10 with 4,457 vehicles.
The latter’s main competitors, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, only increased their sales by 15.83 pc and 9.72 pc respectively. Volvo nearly kept pace with the market at 18.3% while Tesla sales rose just 10%, although in Britain last month it was the best-selling car brand and second overall for the year with a 40% increase over 2020 and nearly 36,000 sales of its complete EV vehicles.
Here Land Rover, Lexus and Jaguar had a dismal 2021 with sales down -18.97, -6.24 and a whopping -36.59pc respectively. Of course, supply issues and chip shortages have skewed many brands’ numbers.
BMW’s success last year came despite a fairly rigorous restructuring of late. However, Kevin Davidson, Managing Director of BMW Group Ireland, says “our order book is as full as it is today” and points out that the group (which includes Mini) owns 35.35% of the premium segment. electrified, in which sales of BMW versions more than doubled.
One of them was the BMW iX xDrive 40 M Sport that I returned last week.
It was a car and brought comments all the time. Even Keith Long, the manager of the Bohemian Football Club, was won over. As a fan and member, I foolishly said he could get one if the club won the Premier League, but he wisely pointed out that the top club prize money probably wouldn’t be enough to pay the Beemer.
And here’s the catch. It was a very expensive car. The base price of €88,630 was just a starting point; the Rouge Aventurine 111 metallic paint cost an additional €2,326, the Castanea interior design suite cost an additional €4,000, the Comfort, Sky Lounge, Visibility and Technology packs added almost an additional €18,000.
So, with some odds and ends, the car, with its 76.6kWh battery and gorgeous soft-closing doors, which you press a button to open from the inside, cost €113,975. Now, even with skyrocketing used car prices, that’s a lot of dosh to find.
No wonder one of our top broadcasters loaned the car out during the recent holiday season. But what you can afford in Dalkey is a very different matter in Dublin 7. But you still get something special for your money.
It’s one of the smoothest cars I’ve driven. It is incredibly quiet and easily absorbs shocks. The level of comfort is immense. The steering is perhaps a little light and lacks the real connection between the car and the road that made BMW so fun to drive.
Acceleration is excellent. The car is large with plenty of space everywhere, but the high floor (due to the batteries underneath) may cause problems for some. That wasn’t helped by a complete lack of grab handles.
There’s plenty of technology on board to keep you safe and connected. The wide twin screens and head-up display are great but take time to master. Maybe the heating controls are just too expansive, but there are different heated zones and seats throughout the car.
I liked the look of the car with its massive 21 inch wheels even though the front may look like a beaver showing its squeaks. This double grill conceals much of the safety equipment and the surface is “self-healing” to get rid of imperfections from stones etc.
The crystal seat controls, beautiful wood-finished center console, and soft touches all around indicate some of the ways the money has been spent.
Unfortunately, the 322hp twin-engine car’s range isn’t the best, and using the wallbox at home for over 10 hours only got me around 340km.
However, some models in the iX range promise up to 600km of autonomy. This first iteration of BMW’s all-electric SAV is very special and superbly comfortable, but the fact that I can get both the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Volvo XC40 EV or the Ford Mustang Mach-E for the same price would make me pause. But hey, I’m not really his market, nor for the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail. I will continue to dream.
High used car prices, chip shortages and supply issues mentioned above will also affect the market during the year.
Industry sources tell me that first-half sales will be much more spread out than normal when most cars are typically delivered in the first two months. Toyota and Hyundai appear to be early winners with a fairly good supply, just as they finished first and third respectively in Simi’s sales charts last year with increases of 30.26pc and 31.30pc. pc against the industry average of 18.80 pc.
Volkswagen was in second place, almost matching the norm. As seemed obvious at the start of 2021 it was Opel who did best in the top 15 importers with their 43.65pc increase beating even BMW and they still have the new Astra coming with its European launch this month next.