The mere mention of the name Rolls-Royce conjures up images of affluent elegance and understated automotive luxury. Though the marque had some difficult times adjusting to modern expectations before its takeover by BMW in 2003, recent offerings evoke its prestigious past with bespoke styling and technological prowess that puts it firmly back at the top of the motoring tree.
When the new Wraith was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March, it was trumpeted as the “car Charles Royce would choose to drive today”. The claim, relating to the firm’s daredevil co-founder, is impossible to verify but easy to believe. The car combines all the company’s traditional values of uncompromising craftsmanship, engineering excellence and obsessive attention to detail with today’s essentials – a desire for sophistication driven by powerful modern performance dynamics and technical wizardry. The initial Wraith, from the late 1930s, was only a chassis; the body needed to be ordered from a separate coachbuilder. Contemporary customers of this upgraded two-door coupe based on the impressive Ghost saloon, though, will relish a full package in what is the most potent and technologically advanced Rolls-Royce ever released.
Prior to their debut before an admiring public, all Rolls-Royce models undergo a thorough examination to ensure that any new developments in form or content are consistent with the traditions nurtured over generations. This ensures that ownership of one of their cars conveys to the outside world a calm self-confidence and a determination to accept only the best. These core values are safe with the Wraith.
Power and comfort are seamlessly integrated in a power train that adds a sporty verve to Rolls-Royce’s signature DNA. The direct-injection 6.6-litre bi-turbo V12 propels the 2.4-tonne behemoth with blistering acceleration and effortless ease towards its power-restricted 155 mph maximum. Press the starter button and the beautifully crafted unit, providing a generous 624 brake horsepower, burbles to life with little more than a whisper, ready for whatever the driver throws at it.
When driven at more modest speeds, the Wraith progresses with imperious majesty, brushing off any road imperfections with a shrug. There is the merest suggestion of turbo lag on those rare occasions when the pedal is flattened, but in normal conditions power delivery is silky smooth. The re-jigged intelligent air suspension and electronic variable damping are finely-tuned to accentuate the effect of gliding over any surface and produce only a gentle roll under the harshest of treatment.
Progress is controlled by a seven-speed ZF automatic gearbox aided by a GPS satellite system that accurately plots the road ahead and seamlessly provides the right gear depending on the driver’s braking or acceleration points, making for a stress-free experience. No modes, no paddles, no fuss. The steering is accurate, tactile, direct, friction-free and responsive, enabling what is undoubtedly a big car to maneuver tight bends with contemptuous ease.