Sensational, game-changing peace and quiet, flawless build quality, uncanny comfort, ease of use
Rather showy when times are hard. Even if you can afford one, it’s sold out for a couple of years
What is it?
The new Rolls-Royce coupe model: the Spectre. It’s priced and positioned between the Cullinan SUV and the Phantom flagship in the Rolls-Royce hierarchy (so expect to pay upwards of £330,000 after tax), but this is much more than a niche-filler – it’s a sign of things to come for the double-R brand.
By the end of the decade, every single Rolls-Royce will be fully electric. The Spectre is the first battery-powered model to carry the Spirit of Ecstasy on the prow of its bonnet.
It looks enormous...
The Spectre is a truly immense coupe. That glinting grille is lower and wider than a Phantom’s Parthenon-esque façade and the corners of its bonnet taper gently downwards instead of standing as upright as a bearskin-topped guardsman, but these nods to slippery aerodynamics don’t diminish the gravitational presence this mighty two-door generates.
What are the specs?
Sitting on a Cullinan-related aluminium platform that’s been adapted to fit a 102kWh battery between the sills (making it 30 per cent stiffer as a result) the Spectre is powered by twin motors. The rearward one develops 255bhp, and the front motor adds 480bhp.
Rolls claims the total power developed is equivalent to 576bhp, with 664lb ft of torque at your disposal. Enough to haul three tonnes (well, 2,890kg if you’re counting) of leather, wood and lithium-ion from 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds. The top speed is ‘sufficient’, you’d imagine, at 155mph.
But it’s an EV, so what about all that nasty range anxiety?
Not a problem. And that’s not because the Spectre is the world’s longest range EV: it isn’t. Not even close. The official claim is 329 miles (530km), and it’ll charge from 10-80 per cent in 34 minutes so long as you have access to Rolls’ recommended 195kW charger. Don’t expect to see many Spectres queueing for the Instavolts at Peterborough Gateway Services, just off the A1 south of Grantham.
No, the reason range is immaterial to the Spectre and its anxiety-free owners is simple. When the company consulted its most faithful clients while drawing up plans for an EV, the response ran something like “ooh, I should think 300 miles is plenty. If I needed to go further than that in a day, I’d take a helicopter. Or my jet.”
So is this the greenest Rolls-Royce ever?
Don’t mistake the Spectre as being an ‘eco-Rolls’. It isn’t swathed in vegan pleather or sustainably-sourced hemp. This is a huge monument to conspicuous consumption and you could argue it’s actually rather vulgar. Sure, the cells in the battery are produced using ‘green electricity’, says Rolls, and there’s a commitment to only use responsibly-sourced rare earth metals in the batteries, but compared to the likes of a Polestar 2 for example, this isn’t a car which you’ll buy because it’s got on eye on lifetime CO2 emissions.
You’ll buy it because it’s a Rolls-Royce, first and foremost. You’ll buy it because it may very well be the finest motor car in the world.
What's the verdict?
The Spectre ruddy well ought to be nigh-on perfect for such titanic money. And yet we suspected that we’d miss being dimly aware of twelve perfectly balanced cylinders whirring away in the middle-distance. Or that we'd struggle to see why you wouldn't save a few hundred grand and just buy a BMW i7. Perhaps an e-Roller would be sterilised, or an anachronism.
But if anything, they’ve done the impossible here. Electric has enriched the Rolls-Royce. It’s still a galloping, ocean-going, 24-carat indulgence, but with a tasteful specification it’s just about possible to swerve absolute vulgarity.
It’s rich in the decadence of the so-called glory days but gratifyingly simple to operate for a product of 2023. While other manufacturers wrestle with the conundrum of transposing their family heirloom values into an electric future, the age of electric propulsion will suit Rolls-Royce very well indeed.