We were given the keys to the Wraith, but passed them straight on to Rolls-Royce virgin Jonny Edge so he could play at being plutocrat. The experience had a profound effect on him…
The Spirit of Ecstasy proudly stands at the nose of a car that seems to exist within a realm of its own. Rolls-Royce’s Wraith is a V12-powered two-and-a-half tonne coupe with a list price just a few quid shy of £230,000. What do you find when you step into the Wraith’s spiritual domain?
A large, heavy key was dropped into my hand and I paused briefly before approaching the massive, slightly intimidating, Wraith. As I did, something strange happened – it spoke to me. The Wraith seemed frustrated as it sat in a posture of arrogance and impatience, a car that knows full-well it is not really like anything else on the road. No, it isn’t one of them. Silent and stationary, it appears to have a sense of self-awareness – it’s alive.
The Wraith wanted to go. Irritated, every second it was stationary it was telling me to go. It wanted to get out there and get on with it, but I couldn’t. Not yet. Unlike the Wraith, I didn’t want to rush.
From the moment the rear-hinged doors open, you enter into a new world. Every special car you recall driving before is suddenly rendered inferior. Underfoot, thick, inviting carpet that makes you want to take off your shoes and drive bare foot. Around you, you’re cushioned in acres of beautiful soft leather. Everywhere you look and touch you find pristine materials united together with an unrivalled finish.
As stars twinkle above you the door closes at the touch of a button. Suddenly there is silence.
You are cut off from the outside world; the Wraith has granted you a sanctuary. What you know as glass in the doors and windscreen actually seems to be more like a collection of TV screens displaying the outside world – in mute. Insulation in the Wraith is so remarkable that you don’t have to hear anything you don’t want to, even the engine.
Normally an engine is the centrepiece of a car, and while it is a central feature of the Wraith, it isn’t there to seek attention. Only rarely can we hear our own hearts beating, and that same philosophy applies here. The Wraith’s heart is an enormous 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 with 624 horses standing silently at your command, ready for orders issued by your right foot.
Press lightly and they effortlessly move you in near-silence. This majestic equine gathering only really begin to murmur as you push your foot down a little further, and as you notice the ‘power reserve’ gauge drop, the surreal soundtrack of a hushed yet massive V12 advances you forward at an alarming pace.
It is truly rapid, despite a weight that would make most cruise liners blush – 800Nm of torque sees to that – and although it is built purely for comfort there is plenty of grip available to get you around twisty stuff should you be required to make more hasty progress.
Personality is not something I expected the Rolls to have. I imagined it would be a quiet but faithful assistant, something to escort you. Perhaps other Rolls-Royce’s are, but the Wraith is different. This instead is an other-worldly being you can summon at will to transport you to wherever you please. It wants to take you to places, it wants to be driven, and it doesn’t want to wait until tomorrow.
The Wraith is a wonderful, ethereal piece of automotive engineering, with far more of a spirit than you may be expecting.
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