Rolls-Royce builds a sports coupe!
Rolls-Royce, that most traditional of four-door saloon brands, appears to have built a sports coupe – and while it’s totally unique, Bentley Continental GT owners will be looking on with interest. How does it stack up? RAC Cars found out.
Price: From £225,000
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy: 20.2 mpg
CO2: 327 g/km
On sale: Late 2013
Insurance group: 50
Three UK Rolls-Royce Wraith facts
- New model line for Rolls-Royce joins Ghost, Phantom, Phantom Coupe and Phantom Drophead Coupe
- £225,000 list price is only the starting point: Rolls-Royce doesn’t expect to sell many cars below £300,000
- Satellite aided transmission is standard: GPS data is used to select the right gear for the next corner ahead
What is it?
The Rolls-Royce Wraith is a fantastic new model line addition from the Goodwood-based brand that’s been reborn under BMW stewardship. It joins the excellent Phantom and Ghost models in a range that’s now broader than it’s ever been, and certainly more stylish than ever before too.
The rakish, far-from-subtle Wraith takes thing a step further. It’s derived from the Ghost (Rolls-Royce’s smallest car, although this is a relative term) but gains a sleek new look that’s dominated by the massive coupe rear. It’s incredibly distinctive and we’re sure the fastback design will stand the test of time, too.
Rear-hinged doors reveal a staggering interior: there’s not another coupe on sale with an interior ambience this wondrous. It also shows what a big car the Wraith is as well – it’s so wide, the doors have to be closed by electric motors.
Rolls-Royce reckons list price will start from around £225,000, when it goes on sale towards the end of the year. But it also admits most owners don’t look at the price and simply add on the features they want. That meant the true price of a Wraith will be nudging (or breaking) the £300,000 barrier with ease.
Rolls-Royce has fitted a giant 6.6-litre V12 motor to the Wraith – and as that presumably wasn’t enough, it’s also added on two turbochargers! The result is a mighty 624hp power output. Which is the same as the McLaren 12C supercar.
This means the 2.3-tonne Rolls-Royce can shoot from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds, and the top speed of 155mph is only pegged back by an electronic limiter. A huge 590lb ft of torque means it has real muscle and the eight-speed automatic gearbox is also faultless. It doesn’t have any ‘sport’ modes, and it doesn’t need them.
Our only complaint is the occasionally sudden response of the accelerator when going back onto the power. It seems to go through a period of ‘dead’ response before power rushes back on. It’s not as cultured as you’d expect of a Rolls-Royce.
Ride and handling
This is a big, heavy car, and also one with a Rolls-Royce badge. Combine the two and you expect a fantastic ride quality. It delivers. Yes, it’s firmer than in other Rolls-Royce, meaning you’ll feel nibbles from bumps you wouldn’t notice in a Ghost or Phantom, but it’s still an incredibly smooth and accomplished feel.
Handling is sharper than in other models too. It’s still rather floaty when really pushed, but the extra poise means it is now better able to take twisting roads at sped than the other cars: consider it mildly sporting, a balance we found rather appealing. Just don’t expect a sports car – it isn't quite that.
The interior of the Rolls-Royce Wraith is fantastic – there’s no other word for it. Built from the very finest wood, leather and other top-drawer materials, it’s modern and contemporary yet classically elegant and utterly gorgeous. It is one of the best interiors of any car on sale.
It is accessed through those unique rear-hinged doors. The openings are ample and space inside is commodious for four, too. Be it driver or passengers, all have the most indulgent seats and seating environments that are comfier than most people’s houses.
The highlight is the incredible Starlight headliner, which has thousands of fibre optics embedded in, giving an incredible effect at night. Like the rest of the interior, absolutely brilliant.
Rolls-Royce may sell the Wraith for £225,000, but it doesn’t expect to deliver many costing less than £300,000. That’s because the range of personalisation options is immense and it seems most owners do actually indulge in them – be it colour, trim, interior materials or more infinitesimal bespoke features that make the fantastic Wraith even more unique.
Rivals are few: there’s not another two-door coupe on sale this plush or mighty. It dwarfs a Bentley Continental GT, for example (and, remarkably, makes it look almost affordable). But then, the people who’ll buy it won’t compare it to anything else – and if they also want a Bentley, they’ll buy one of those too.
It is not a particularly fuel-efficient car, of course. It averages 20mpg and emits 327g/km CO2, meaning tax is steep and fuel bills will be sobering. Most owners won’t worry about this, mind. The fuel tank is big enough to mean they won’t have to stop too much – the cost of filling it, like the cost of the car, is immaterial.
The Rolls-Royce Wraith is a truly fantastic motor car. It is unique, distinctive, satisfying and wonderful. The interior is brilliant, power is effortless, and driving it is a total joy. It oozes heritage and is a car to be celebrated. Expensive, yes, but absolutely worth it.
Bentley Continental GT – popular four-seat coupe is dwarfed by the Rolls-Royce but still remains appealing
Mercedes-Benz S-Class – the best car in the world? Quite possibly, yes
BMW M6 Gran Coupe – four-door coupe with sports car performance and handling akin to an M3
Ferrari FF – unique shooting brake-style Ferrari with V12 engine, four-wheel drive and massive heritage
Range Rover Sport Supercharged – a bargain in this company but it doesn’t feel ‘beneath them’ on the road: no wonder the waiting list is so long