Unveiled at the Chicago Motor Show comes an all-new eco-warrior
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The Top Gear car review:Rolls-Royce Wraith
For:Incredible road presence, sumptuous interior, unique driving experience
Against:Attracts both sorts of attention - good and bad
What we say:
Incredible new fastback coupe from Rolls-Royce. The Wraith is distinctive, unique, and quite wonderful
What is it?
The most powerful and dynamic Rolls-Royce ever produced, according to the taglines. And the hardware sounds promising: a 6.6-litre, twin-turbo V12 that belts out 624bhp and 590lb ft of torque. That gives this enormous fastback serious pace: 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and a limited 155mph. That’s pretty darn rapid for a 2,365kg leather and walnut living room on wheels. The other big news is obviously the two door shape. Yep, Rolls makes the Phantom Coupe, but that’s more of a tidier Phantom saloon – the Wraith is a full-on fastback, meaning super-raked C-pillar and a booted rear end that looks like it might contain an enormous hatchback. It’s awesome to see on the road, though slightly polarizing for onlookers.
Interesting one this, because although Rolls-Royce has determined that this is it’s quickest and most powerful car ever, when you first get into it, it feels a bit like a Ghost – wafty, silent, easy.
But once you get going, the Wraith really is different. It never really shrinks-to-fit, because it’s always just massive, but it certainly motivates itself with the kind of speed that makes continents small. The BMW-derived V12 isn’t exactly vocal, but it still whooshes in all the right places, aided by a satellite-aided 8-speed ZF auto ‘box that means it never changes up (or down) at an inopportune moment. The steering is accurate but slightly aloof, the rear-wheel drive chassis nicely balanced on air-suspension, but never going to worry a razorblade for sharpness. It might not even worry a spork. But the Wraith transcends normal considerations such as ride and handling – it’s a majestic, wondrous thing to drive, and utterly unique.
On the inside
One of the Wraith’s strangest points: book-matched, gorgeous wood, leather softer than butter, and all the good technology nicked from top-end BMWs. That tech is well disguised as well, hidden beneath a classy veneer of Rolls- Royce fonts and glassware, plastics and lacquer. If it had a toilet, you’d want to live in it.
Roughly 85 per cent of Wraiths will head through RR’s bespoke department, so if you’re ordering one, you probably aren’t all that bothered about the next bloke and your residuals. But the first year is sold out, so you can still expect the Wraith to be a pretty solid bet. Unless it’s been ordered in yellow with a green interior, that is.
It’ll also be horrific to insure and run – although we did get 22mpg on a cruise. Hardly the stuff that’s going to save the planet but, for a car of this stature, pretty impressive.