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Car Review

Rolls-Royce Spectre review

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Published: 03 Jul 2023
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Interior

What is it like on the inside?

Rolls-Royce has made a very deliberate decision in here not to lavish its first EV with a futuristic interior. Yes, the doors are autonomous, there’s an attentive voice assistant and for the first time in a Roller the instrument dials are entrusted to a screen instead of physical clockfaces. But – thank gawd – there’s no wall-to-wall ultrascreen.

A Spectre driver doesn’t do anything so vulgar as strain a sinew to close their own door. Simply squeeze the brake pedal and it swings silently to an exacting soft-close as if pushed by an invisible butler. A switch on the centre console allows you to shut the passenger’s door simultaneously. 

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From your imperious throne, the cascading bonnet is a problem – only the fabric billowing behind Eleanor Thornton balanced on the nose hints where your bodywork ends. Very much a car that depends on its surround-view cameras and sensors, this. 

The infotainment display – a tastefully reskinned and simplified version of the latest BMW iDrive – is indeed a touchscreen, but this is minimalism done properly. A volume knob. Swivelling discs for interior temperature. Organ-stop vents. Buttons to heat, cool and massage your backside. A button to start proceeding, indeed. 

Praise be! Same story for the driver’s controls?

It’s a mixture of old and new school. The starter button itself, subtly located next to delightfully tactile switches for the lights and display brightness, curiously still reads ‘ENGINE’. Pushing it conjures a harp-string flourish and wakes up the screens. 

And are they as tasteful as the dashboard?

Yes, this isn’t pixel overload. Ahead there’s the delightfully understated ‘power reserve dial’, which now reads beyond 100 per cent to account for the Spectre’s regenerative braking. There’s a speedometer with no numbers on the face (just a big numerical readout below the needle) and a range meter. 

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Are there flaws?

Yes. Some of the button management is haphazard: the seat heater and cooler is controlled from the main console but the massage setting is incongruously on the door. The clickwheel hides half of the menu buttons. No complaints about the materials or build quality, though. You can now supplement the ‘starlight’ headliner by encrusting sparkling pinpricks of light into the doors as well.

It’s worth noting said doors are so long and heavy that if you park on a slope, their whispering mechanisms aren’t strong enough to overcome their weight plus gravity, so keep a real-life butler handy just in case.

So, is it practical? It is massive after all…

This is undoubtedly a Rolls to drive yourself, even though passengers are well catered for – it’s a generously spacious four-seater with surprisingly glassy rear quarters. Behind a newly streamlined flying lady, the vast bonnet doesn’t conceal a clever front boot or some sort of foldaway dinner set. Just a dressed cover for the one of the motors and control electronics, which could double as a medium-sized aircraft carrier.

The boot is narrower than you might expect but will swallow a couple of suitcases. Send the rest in your butler’s Range Rover. There’s a hidden stowage compartment under the floor that’ll fit the charging cable you’ll never use, because your staff will see to that for you.

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