Rolls-Royce Wraith, Front view 23 Photos Zoom

Rolls-Royce Wraith undergoes the road test: Eerie silence

As night draws in, mysterious characters break out of hiding. This is how the Rolls-Royce Wraith arrives with us – adopting the name used to refer to ghosts in Scottish dialect. It is actually eerily silent and dubiously fast, but not invisible

Rolls-Royce Wraith undergoes the road test 4,5 1

The first thing that you should know about the smaller, more affordable coupé from Rolls-Royce is that it is neither small, nor affordable. Granted, the new Rolls-Royce Wraith from the British 'Spirit Dynasty's' Scottish line is shorter, lighter and cheaper than a Phantom, but when did this Empire on wheels ever serve as a benchmark? To base a car on it would be like someone describing their house as being "not as big as Buckingham Palace".

Rolls-Royce Wraith won't leave anyone feeling cold

Secondly: you cannot hide in this Rolls-Royce Wraith. Everyone notices it, even when seemingly looking away. From the outside the lateral observation slits function as magnifying glasses, through which to examine the passengers, or at least those in the front seats, in closes detail. Anonymity? Forget about it. Not only on account of the sheer size, but also due to the powerful radiator grille, the imposing bonnet and the dramatic proportions. In short: a strong personality that is looking for its match.

And therefore – the third finding – the Rolls-Royce Wraith leaves no-one out in the cold. Either you consider it an utter waste, a symbol of power and splendour, a provocation. Or you love it precisely because it is so powerful, splendid and provocatively different. The little boy on the bus in the next lane, who discovered us in a traffic jam in the city, likes it nonetheless, bouncing around with joy on his mother's lap and waving at us euphorically.

Unlike with the unapproachable Phantom, you can even imagine collecting the kids from football training in the Rolls-Royce Wraith – not in shorts and flip flops, granted, but with an open collar and loosened tie. After all, it is intended to add a touch of nonchalance to the brand's traditionally strict dress code, with the fast-back indicating increased dynamics and energy. With the reduced length (minus 13 cm) and height (minus 4 cm) compared to the Limousine Ghost , the two-door model has, however, merely lowered its inhibitions, and not the demand for a grand ambience.

The Rolls-Royce Wraith costs from 279,531 Euros

For the missing back doors and the slightly more difficult access to the back of the Rolls-Royce Wraith are the extent of the cuts. You access the 'parlour' through huge gateways that open towards the front and close automatically at the touch of a button. Even when seated on the two seats in the second row, there is no lack of space or comfort, especially when it comes to impeccable materials with an exxquisite level of quality and finish. For the first time, even the side panels and central console covered with open-pored wood panels, and for a less than modest 11,513 Euros, 1,340 LEDs will map out an artistic starry night sky above your head.

Of course, alongside the solid silver monograms and decorative golden strips, all of the assistance systems from parent company BMW are also available, from the Head-up-Display to the night vision system or adaptive cruise control – which are indeed extremely helpful and are discreetly integrated, but certainly not provided as standard. For a regal 279,531 Euros, the Wraith comes well equipped and fit for a prince, although nice additions such as comfort access, massage seats or the garage door opener cost extra. So in the end the bill can be as much as 344,146 Euro, as is the case for the test car.

Dynamic, but not sporty

When it comes to power, however, they have not held anything back, with the term "sufficient" would be rather insufficient for the most powerful series-produced Rolls-Royce of all time. With 623 HP and 800 Nm of torque, the 6.6-litre V12 biturbo is on a par with the Bentley Continental GT Speed and Mercedes S 65 AMG Coupé, but has its own unique character. For unlike these, the Rolls-Royce Wraith is dynamic and not sporty – which sounds about the same as "the film was funny, but not enjoyable". In any case, sportiness, put on show, is something that is completely foreign to it: not even a tiny spoiler, no voraciously ripped open nostrils, no threatening roar of the exhaust, but just an almost strange effortlessness, which makes its colossal feats seem incomprehensibly casual.

Only when the driver of the Rolls-Royce Wraith goes on the attack dies a slight rumble break the eerie silence. Lightning fast and almost imperceptibly, the eight-speed automatic torque converter transmission shifts two or three gears down, and a display in the cockpit indicates power reserves of just 30 percent rather than the standard 80. Rev speed? A rev counter is just about as insignificant as a drive mode controller or rocker switch on the steering wheel. Also on account of the fact that the extremely discreet ZF transmission always serves up the appropriate transmission, is even aware of longer road sections thanks to GPS data, and adjusts its switching strategy accordingly.

Serenity in motion

In the event of acute boredom, you can browse through the countless menus using the rotary push-button and touchscreen, switch from Studio to Theatre sound and illuminate or lower the winged lady at the front. On rough terrain, you can also raise the car a few centimetres, but otherwise the pneumatic suspension does its job fully automatically and with aplomb. Although the chassis and steering are noticeably firmer than in the Ghost, the Rolls-Royce Wraith remains rather detached from the road. On motorways it storms ahead like a general and subjects every elevation to the force of its 2.4 tonnes, and only on winding roads does it seem somewhat fickle and indecisive.

Here, given its regal dimensions and the majestic appearance, especially from the front, the rear-wheeler is comparatively manageable and up front, but not without a sense of stubbornness. Only louts would force it to bend to their will or partake in their escapades within the limit range – thereby getting very little pressure out of it. The Rolls-Royce Wraith has its own pace, dignity and principles, which must be respected, fathomed, experienced. Hour by hour, day in day out and ideally also at night.

You will then at least have an idea as to what serenity in motion and power without recognisable effort mean. British specialist magazine "The Autocar" already coined the term "waftability" to describe this event in 1906, which doesn't appear in any dictionary, but is popular among insiders and fans of the brand. UAnd that brings us to the last thing that you should know about the Rolls-Royce Wraith.



Dino Eisele


11 May 2015
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