Rolls-Royce Wraith

Rolls-Royce Wraith, front
Rolls-Royce Wraith, doors, open
Rolls-Royce Wraith, rear
Rolls-Royce Wraith, interior

THINK of Rolls-Royce motoring and you conjure up an image of gliding along in sedate silence while the world hurries by in noise and confusion.

And for the lucky owners of these automotive aristocrats it's an image which is born out by reality.

But with the launch of the new Rolls-Royce Wraith there has been somewhat of a sea change as the luxury marque attempts to appeal to a younger buyer.

This new two-door coupe, with its dramatic fastback silouhette, posesses all the grace and elegance of the more majestic four door models like the flagship Phantom but at the same time is capable of the sort of acceleration that few cars can match.

The Wraith is the fastest and most powerful car that Roll-Royce has ever produced. But the beauty of it is how it delivers that power, in a serene, unhurried way pushing you firmly, almost apologetically into your seatback.

Keep your foot firmly on the accelerator and the power from the giant 6.6-litre, twin turbo V12 engine just keeps on coming.

The luxury features on this mind bogglingly quick supercar means it tips the scales at almost 2.4 tonnes, but with 624bhp under the bonnet weight presents no problem and you hit 62 miles per hour in a jaw dropping 4.6 seconds.

The finger-tip light steering takes a little getting used to, as does the huge expanse of bonnet stretching out before you, but once you do you can take fast bends with confidence.

Raw performance is not normally what Rolls-Royce is associated with but in the Wraith it has managed to produce a car which perfectly blends power with tradition and elegance in a way that only it could.

One of the traditional Rolls-Royce features that tends to throw anyone you take in the Wraith is that the car's two huge doors open backwards. The vast opening of each means that both front and rear seat passengers can get in and out easily and once on board you simply push a button to close the doors automatically.

Inside the Wraith is a magnificent blend of wood, leather and chrome but with a lighter, more modern image than in previous generations of Rolls-Royce models.

The finest cream leather upholstery contrasts with piano black veneering on the dashboard while the doors feature pale veneers in a matt finish, each one from the same tree and set at exactly 55 degrees so one side of the car reflects the other in a perfect mirror image.

Chrome features heavily on the dashboard and it's nice to see the organ stop ventilation controls featured on almost all Roll-Royce models have been retained.

But while the heritage of the marque has been retained the new Wraith is very much a high tech car of today.

The aircraft size engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox whose ratios are always perfect for the road you are travelling on thanks to the on-board satellite navigation system.

The gearbox constantly "talks" to the sat nav so that it can put you in the perfect gear for the road, bend or junction you are approaching.

The column change allows you to select Drive, Reverse and Low Ratio but there is no manual selection available. Paddles behind the steering wheel for F1-style gear changes it seems would be a step too far for Rolls-Royce.

On the other hand the Wraith has a superb "eat your heart out James Bond" night vision feature which picks out people and animals way beyond the range of the car's headlamps - thanks to heat seeking sensors - and displays them on a centre console screen.

And while you can order the car in a two tone finish the stunning Salamanca blue - a kind of electric blue - colour of my test car was commented on by almost everyone, although few would realise it takes nine coats of paint to achieve such a deep lustre.

Despite the £219,00 price tag of the model I drove Roll-Royce tell me that many Wraith buyers already own a Phantom and the slightly smaller four-door Ghost but see the newcomer as a more friendly "everyday" car.

By my calculation that means these wealthy motorists each have around £1 million worth of automotive extravaganza in their garage.

It's a scenario most of us can only dream of.

 

FAST FACTS

Rolls-Royce Wraith

Price: £189,000

Mechanical: 624bhp, 6,598cc, 12cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 4.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 20.2

Insurance Group: 327g/km

C02 emissions: 35%

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