Always Perfect The First Time
Ben Oliver gets into the driving seat of Wraith for a world exclusive drive.
A decade ago, I arrived at Rolls-Royce’s new home at Goodwood to collect the very first Phantom released for testing.
And all it took was a hundred metres before I reached a verdict for the UK’s century-old Autocar magazine – that Phantom was “a real Rolls-Royce, and right the first time.”
The release of a new Rolls-Royce motor car is not a frequent occurrence, but my reaction has been the same for every new model that has rolled out from the marque’s headquarters in the Sussex Downs. Each has shown deep engineering integrity as well as beauty and originality in styling.The quality of materials and construction goes beyond the automotive and is better compared with the finest furniture the world has to offer. I’m sorry if I’m giving the game away too soon, but the new Wraith is no exception. It, too, is exceptional. It is, however, also a Rolls-Royce unlike its predecessors.The 624bhp twin-turbocharged V12 engine is the marque’s most powerful ever. Wraith also features intriguing new technology, chiefly the satellite-aided eight-speed transmission that knows when the car is approaching a
corner and will hold a lower gear, readying it for acceleration as you exit the bend.
This drivetrain, installed in Wraith’s gorgeous two-door fastback body, plainly indicates that this is a more dynamic car than its stablemates. But Rolls-Royce’s engineers have an aversion to the term “sporty”, and before I took Wraith out on the road I wondered how they would resolve the seeming incompatibility of their goals: producing a more dynamic chassis and also preserving the brand’s hallmark refinement to give its customers the perfect “magic carpet ride”.
I needn’t have worried. Wraith is titanically fast when you need it to be. With the steering just a fraction crisper to suit, and the ride just a hint more taut, it communicates just a shade more of the surface beneath, without breaking that fabulous, almost-eerie “spell” of grace that only a Rolls-Royce can cast.
It is perfectly judged. And the greatest achievement of the satellite-aided transmission is that you barely notice it at work – you will simply get a sense of the car being smarter, more cooperative, and better-prepared for your next instruction. In a Rolls-Royce, technology should be effective but not apparent, and that is cer tainly the case here.
And so there is nothing to distract you from enjoying another extraordinary Rolls-Royce cabin, the highlight here being the vast, stunning one-piece Canadel door veneers.The extra power may have you arriving at your destination earlier, but it also means you get to open the coach doors sooner to admire the striking exterior once more.The car certainly makes good on the promise of that deeply recessed Pantheon grille and flowing, pillarless side-glass.
I was lucky enough to see Wraith prior to its launch at the Geneva Motor Show. Speaking to Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös, he explained that the car has no natural rivals – it is unique in the marketplace, different enough that loyal customers will not hesitate to add Wraith to their current stables of Rolls-Royce cars.
And that is exactly what he and his team at Goodwood have produced – a car that has achieved the perfect balance between dynamism and all the definitive traits of the marque. Just as I described Phantom ten years ago, Wraith is a real Rolls-Royce. And once again, right the first time.
01-02 Guests learn about Wraith from Global Director of Communications Richard Carter. 03 High tech car keys for a technologically advanced vehicle. Wraith has a satellite-aided eight-speed transmission system that ensures maximum performance on the road. 04 Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös speaks to guests at the event. 05-09 Guests spend an eventful day learning about the interior detailing of Rolls-Royce’s most powerful car to date.
10 Wraith speeds down a bend. It takes just 4.6 seconds to accelerate from 0-100km/h.