951 miles in the new Rolls Royce Wraith
Ollie Marriage has a dinner appointment in Vienna. And the keys to the latest Rolls…
Posted: 19 Sep 2013
I've never guided a bigger, wider car onto the double deck part of the train. I edge slowly through the carriages until I'm beckoned into position. Next to a toilet. This means the door, thicker than a bank vault's, will only open a crack and I'm not about to do something as undignified as clamber over the Wraith's centre console. I'm trapped. And since you have to keep your windows lowered, I'm easy prey for anyone who wants to come and talk to me about the car.
People come to talk to me about the car. There are three strategies for dealing with this. The truth: ‘I work for Top Gear... etc' which leads to a ten minute conversation on what Jeremy is really like and whether there's a ‘special' stop watch for the celebrity lap times. The lie: ‘I'm a dotcom millionaire, and like to drive myself aimlessly around the continent in a UK-registered-yet-left-hand-drive Rolls-Royce'. The easy way out: ‘I'm the delivery driver'. People are very friendly and really seem to genuinely admire the Wraith, although they're a bit perplexed as to why a man who could so effortlessly afford a Wraith was so assiduously filing his fuel receipts.
11 hours and 57 minutes until I'm due in Vienna. Sun's up and my steering wheel is now on the correct side. This alone makes me feel more at ease. Driving the Wraith around small country lanes over the weekend had been... well, camels and eyes of needles spring to mind. It's not exactly a wieldy size.
Already convinced our planet has never created a better trans-continental device.
8.52am. Still Belgium
I do some thinking. It's the fingertippyness of the experience, the fact you need to put so little effort in. There are no gearchange paddles, the cabin isn't a confusing mass of buttons or technology. Just look at the heating controls. Two simple rotary sliders, no need to fiddle with umpteen zones and a 0.5 degree temperature accuracy. It just instinctively gets it right. It's Jeeves. And a man servant is the ultimate luxury, isn't he? The only way this could be any more relaxing is if I was in the back seat and someone else was having to do the wheel-whirling and pedal-pressing.