Wraith, Ghost, Phantom: the names of these Rolls-Royce models evoke spirits that silently linger among us. It’s this exceptional, almost unreal quality that makes driving a Rolls-Royce such a unique experience—that and the stratospheric prices of these cars, that is.
With the Wraith, Rolls-Royce is looking to win over a younger clientele, compared to the crowd that prefers its more conventional four-door models. These are people who want to drive themselves, while the Ghost and Phantom’s clients want to be driven. This distinction, however, has no impact on the price, with the Wraith starting at $375,000. Our test car, equipped with numerous options, retails at $462,000.
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Where classic meets sporty
This four-seat coupe from the prestigious English brand, today the property of the BMW Group, makes its presence felt with its immense size. At seventeen feet long and weighing more than two and a half tons, the 2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith looks like no other car on the road. Its one-of-a-kind shape is a curious mix of the brand’s classic style features and a sporty touch thanks to the plunging roofline.
Signature Rolls-Royce features are present and accounted for, like the massive front grille beneath the famous Spirit of Ecstasy. This talisman seems to guide the vehicle as it sails along. When you step out of the Wraith and lock it, the statue retracts so as not to tempt thieves who may want to pilfer it. As with all the other models, the insignias at the centre of the wheels always finish in upright position to display the “RR” letters correctly when the car is stopped.
Starry, starry night
The doors are rear-hinged, and as much attention to detail was paid with the Wraith as with the other Rolls-Royces, with umbrellas hidden in the front fenders for when the need arises. Once on board, simply press a button located at the base of the windshield pillar to activate the automatic door closure.
The 2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith’s charm is evident long before you start the engine. The carpets are made of genuine lamb’s wool and the ceiling, equipped with a thousand light-emitting diodes, is reminiscent of a starry night sky (an option that will set you back $6,925).
The dashboard layout is a combination of classic and modern, with Rolls Royce’s trademark heat and air conditioning controls comprised of big rotating buttons that can be set to Soft, Medium, High or Max and the temperature is adjusted using four dials. There’s no automatic heating or A/C here: this ride is pure old school. Where it makes way for modernity is the inclusion of a version of BMW’s iDrive telematics system, with graphics adapted to the English brand’s style, but with functions identical to those of the Bavarian brand’s models.
A BMW twin-turbo V12
The other thing that Rolls-Royce “borrowed” from BMW is a fabulous 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 engine that develops 624 horsepower and a torque of 590 lb.-ft. When accelerating flat-out, this mastodon demonstrates jaw-dropping poise, the G force is smooth, continuous and linear and, if you don’t want to miss any of the landscape as you whip by, we suggest not blinking.
The only real way to know that you’re way over the speed limit is by reading the speedometer, since silence prevails in the Wraith’s cabin. With a five-second 0-100 km/h time, the Wraith accelerates as fast as a Porsche 718 Boxster—how’s that for impressive!
An adaptive automatic transmission
The other surprise is the efficiency of the eight-speed automatic gearbox that works in concert with the car’s GPS and takes the road’s topography into account. For example, as you approach a series of turns, the transmission will automatically downshift to prepare the car to reaccelerate on the next straightaway. Comfort is exceptional thanks to the air suspension, which makes you feel like you’re literally floating on a cloud. And the exceptionally quiet ride is absolutely remarkable. Less remarkable is the fuel consumption, which, at an average of 17 L/100 km, is superior to that of a very big SUV.
Overall, the 2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith is incredibly high-performance, endowed with undeniably luxurious character and gives the buyer a certain exclusivity, since less than 100 Rolls-Royces are sold in Canada every year, all models combined.