Rolls Royce Wraith: An Undeniable Superstar
Sir Henry Royce once said, “Take the best that exists and make it better; when it does not exist, design it.” But what happens when the best that exists is something you have already designed and created? Well, just chuck in more power; then chop off a couple of doors; and give it a tag line like “The most powerful Rolls Royce ever built.”
Based on the Ghost platform, with an almost vulgar 632 horsepower and 800nm of torque, the Rolls Royce Wraith can crack a ton on the speedo in just 4.6 seconds and climb to almost 300 km/h before running out of breath. Not impressed? Then think about this: imagine 5,200 pounds of leather, steel, and wood being propelled from a standstill to one hundred kilometres an hour in one, two, three, four, point, six, seconds and going on to cruise to around half the speed of an Airbus 320. On public roads.
The whole concept makes you wonder just how much quicker does man really need to get from A to B. Does the air taste any different if you get there one second ahead of the next super car? If so, why not just leave the house a little earlier? And kissing an ungoverned top speed of 300km/h in something weighing as much as an inner-city apartment? Seriously? Unless it comes with a boarding pass, is there any logical reason to have a speedometer that reads past 120?
Of course not. There is no sensible reason for any luxury car to try and achieve this. Period. Thankfully, luxury doesn’t need to make sense. In fact, it is usually found in the absence of it. And a Rolls Royce is not just a luxury car. It is a statement. So, let’s get started.
The first Rolls Royce Wraith sold for £1700 back in 1938. Today, that would barely get you the optional lambswool floor mats. Seriously. But while times have changed (thankfully) some things at Rolls Royce haven’t. Like the obsessive, compulsive attention to the most minor details such as the choice of wood you would like your dashboard panelled with, the type of leather used, and the name of the cow it came from.
And that is as close to an explanation you’ll get, because luxury cannot be defined, explained, or justified. It is simply experienced. It is the difference between ticking the box of what colour wood you would like on your trim or pointing out the exact tree you wanted it to come from. And if you don’t believe me, ask the man who did exactly that.
The car is filled with such stories. Because each material used was individually selected, crafted, and fitted by a team of the most discerning artists and comes with its own story, that when weaved together, tells the whole incredible tale of the Wraith. You could literally spend hours talking to the team about the choice of material for the carpets, or the door handles, or the amazing roof lining that is filled with thousands of tiny LED lights that create a blanket of stars to drive under—although the biggest star is always seated behind the wheel.
The Rolls Royce Wraith can crack a ton on the speedo in just 4.6 seconds and climb to almost 300 km/h before running out of breath
Funny, but despite this not being the most expensive car I’ve driven by a long shot (that still goes to the Pagani Cinque at 2 million euros) I must say it was the most intimidating. As I walked up to it, it gave me this look, through rectangular eyes that seemed to squint as I drew closer as if to say, “Are you worthy?”
It begins by greeting you with a door that opens the other way, indicating that this will be unlike any car you have driven before. It is so large that it requires a button to close it, saving you from having to step out of the car just to reach the handles.
I take a seat and sink into the expensive leather, allowing it to cradle me. The smell of fine materials blending together just add to the whole experience, which is nothing short of royal. I spark it up with the start-stop button. If it weren’t for the gauges springing to life, I would have never known it was on. In fact, I have never heard anything quite as quiet in my life.
It feels like an electric car. Surreally silent, smooth, and almost disconnected. In a way, it feels like you’re floating through the streets; you can neither feel the road through the steering wheel or the tires through the suspension, and there is nothing to aurally connect you to the images that are streaming through your windows.
It is eerie at first, but then you get quite used to it. Once you start clearing the confines of the city and start picking up the pace, you begin to feel more of the road as well as the car. Yet as regal as it all was, the very thought of scraping a wheel or grazing a cyclist or bus along one of the very narrow streets had me constantly offering the wheel back to my chauffeur.
But once I gained my confidence, the Wraith wafted along quite nicely; and despite its size, ended up quite manoeuvrable, offering plenty of visibility, thanks to the 360-degree cameras that give you a bird’s eye view of your surroundings. Impressive. But you just wouldn’t want to do a gymkhana in one.
Once we left the city limits, however, the Wraith came into its own playground. The engine noise slowly began to filter through, as did the road noise. It was still incredibly quiet, but there’s some semblance of an audio-visual sync that connected you to the road and made you feel in control.
It prefers the mildly cambered and twisted roads but starts to remind you of its weight through the sharper stuff. This is not something you ‘fling’ around but something you guide through. As sophisticated as the suspension is, there’s no cheating physics and the Wraith requires as much warning as you can give it and rewards the driver who can read the road ahead.
This explains the incredible 8 speed ZF gearbox that uses GPS to actually read the road ahead and already map out an appropriate shifting pattern, allowing the Wraith to prepare the gearing for the corner ahead rather than react to it, and the most incredible part is that it actually works.
The result is a more polished and smooth delivery of gears, which is the difference with having a professional butler that anticipates your needs, versus the one you always need to beckon. That may sound trivial, but at this level of motoring, it is precisely in the details like that where luxury is defined. Because if it must be explained, you can never understand it.