When I started writing about cars several years ago, there were four brands that I held on high, ones I saw as the pinnacle of the industry: Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Rolls-Royce. It was the far off — albeit unrealistic — dream of driving these cars that kept me slogging through reviews of the Mitsubishi Mirages of the world. They were the carrot on the end of the stick that kept me trudging along.
Amazingly, I eventually worked my way up to these god-like vehicles, first Bentley, then Ferrari, then Lamborghini. Finally, I reached the final holdout: Rolls-Royce. To my amazement, I found Rolls-Royces drove exactly how I imagined they would: perfectly. They offer force-of-nature power, yacht-like handling, and exquisite craftsmanship, which can be both observed and felt.
And although the Wraith is the “sports car” of the Rolls range, it still drives a lot like its larger cousin, the Ghost II. Yes, the Wraith might be a suicide-doored coupe, but it still drove like a seafaring yacht, albeit one with 624 horsepower.
I was in no way disappointed with the Wraith. Because - as with customers who buy the Wraith – it stands as a culmination of a lifetime of work. Even though a pedestrian, a random passerby, could accurately predict the sensation of driving a Rolls, it’s still a wondrous thing. Because it’s not how it drives exactly; it’s about how it makes a driver feel.
Interior I could tell you about the many bulls that graciously gave their lives to cover the Wraith interior, the vibrant head-up display (HUD), or the Spirit of Ecstasy infotainment system, which is a derivation of the BMW iDrive system. These are niggling details that likely won’t excite. Something about the large, gorgeous Canadel panels just make me want to rub my face against them.
Let me instead jump to the two outstanding interior appointments of the Wraith that — like the brand before it — make me warm with delight: the Canadel paneling and the Starlight Headliner. We’ll start with the more obvious of the two: the Canadel paneling. Open the door and occupants are greeted with the new open-grain wood paneling, which encompasses the majority of the inner door panel. Finished in a light satin finish, the open-grain wood is angled at 55 degrees, which improves the visual flow of the interior.
The panels are like nothing else in the industry and – in my opinion – are alone nearly worth the entire base price. Something about the large, gorgeous Canadel panels just make me want to rub my face against them. And, no, I can’t explain why. If, for some reason, occupants are unimpressed Canadel panels, they needn’t wait longer than after sunset to experience the Wraith’s next trick: its Starlight Headliner.
Composed of 1,340 individual fiber optic lights, which are hand-woven into the leather roof lining, the Starlight Headliner is a bespoke option designed to mimic the starry night sky above the heads of the occupants.
Effortlessness I’ve said the Wraith drove exactly how I expected it to. Perhaps I should explain that a bit with a few mechanical details of the car. First off, it’s powered by a BMW-derived 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 that produces 624 horsepower mated to an eight-speed Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT) that chooses gears based upon information gathered from the navigation system and routes power to the rear wheels. This combo is good for a 0-to-60 run of 4.4 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Its interior is the finest in the world. It handles like a yacht. And it accelerates not with anger but with aplomb.
One might expect that, with 624 ponies, the Wraith’s acceleration is neck wrenching and immediate. It is … and it isn’t. Yes, it gets to 100 very quickly indeed. But it – oddly – doesn’t feel as fast as it is. That’s because Rolls designers had effortlessness in mind, when tuning the car. That translates into a wafting feeling, no matter the speed or the throttle position. The Wraith would never dare try to rip the driver’s head off. Instead, it will gently – but forcefully – guide him to 100 and beyond.
Conclusion It’s taken me some time between having driven the Wraith and my review of it. That’s because it flummoxed me a bit with its predictability. Its interior is the finest in the world. It handles like a yacht and it accelerates not with anger but with aplomb. The kind of man who can afford the Wraith has worked very hard to do so. Accordingly, he’ll want to show the world just how well he’s done. To that end, there is no finer car in the world. The Rolls-Royce Wraith achieves its goals not by outperforming the competition, but rather by changing the driver’s reality. The Wraith is worth its price tag because of how the driver feels behind the wheel and how people perceive and treat occupants. And it’s those sensations that are priceless.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS Dimensions Vehicle length 5269 mm / 17 ft.3” Vehicle width 1947 mm / 6 ft 5” Vehicle height (unladen) 1507 mm / 4 ft 11” Wheelbase 3112 mm / 10 ft 2” Turning circle 12.7 m / 41.7 ft Boot Volume (DIN) 470 ltr / 16.6 ft3 Weight Unladen Weight (DIN) 2360 kg / 5203 lb Engine Engine / cylinders / valves V / 12 / 48 Fuel management Direct injection Power output @ engine speed 624 bhp / 632 PS (DIN) / 465 kW @ 5,600 rpm Max torque @ engine speed 800 Nm / lb ft @ 1,500-5,500 rpm Fuel type Super unleaded1 Performance Top speed 250 km/h / 155 mph (governed) Acceleration 0 - 60 mph (UK) 4.4 sec Acceleration 0 - 100 km/h 4.6 sec Fuel Consumption Urban 21.2 ltr/100 km / 13.3 mpg (Imp.) Extra urban 9.8 ltr/100 km / 28.8 mpg (Imp.) Combined consumption / range 14.0 ltr/100 km / 20.2 mpg (Imp.) CO2 emissions 327 g/km