Inspiration. It’s a rather difficult thing to come by sometimes, especially when you’ve been doing a job for the better part of a quarter century.
They say that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result every time, well I used to think that I’d seen it all and experienced it all when it came to anything even remotely automotive related, and that there was little left to ‘excite’ me anymore. Boy how wrong I was.
I’m happy to say though that despite the time I’ve put in, it’s still a thrill to get behind the wheel of a new car, and it really doesn’t take much convincing on the part of anyone to get me on a drive or bike ride. My friends will attest that I can be a downright pain in the ‘you-know-where’ when it comes to legging it out of town on an extended road-trip. Sometimes I just head-off alone; so yeah, by the time the others have decided if they’re going or not, I’m usually already at the border.
Recently however, I was privy to a car that made me seriously question my chosen profession. No, I’m not referring to the spawn of Satan more commonly known as the Google Self-Driving Car (my career would come to an abrupt end if all cars started driving themselves, so pardon my bitterness and angst), I’m referring to the Rolls-Royce Wraith, and how utterly pointless it was to review this car…
Truth be told, if ever there was a car that would never, ever require a review – or any form of advertising and publicity whatsoever for that matter – the Wraith would be at the top of the list. It’s also the car that single-handedly made me loathe my job. In fact, I’m pretty sure every single motoring media who was fortunate enough to be selected to attend a day out with the Wraith, absolutely detested the hell out of it…if only because it was so damn good, and made our own cars look and feel like big piles of steaming excrement.
Seriously, it’s almost physically painful and definite mental torture getting back into your own car after a day at the wheel of the Wraith. Putting it mildly, getting back into your clapper after a car like this, is akin to leaving the First Class section of a 747, and getting into the cargo hold of a C-130 Hercules for your connecting flight. Thankfully, I knew this would happen, so I rode a bike there instead.
What can you say about a car that costs three times more than your house (okay, 5 times, but I just couldn’t bring myself to admit that), is bespoke in every way, has a presence that no other vehicle on the road can match – including military vehicles – and has so much power on tap it deserves its own time-zone? Welcome to the world of Rolls-Royce, where cars aren’t just cars anymore. I’ll qualify that later.
Let’s start with the powertrain, which actually deserves some mention. The Wraith is the most powerful Rolls-Royce ever built, boasting 624bhp and a colossal 800Nm of torque from its 6.6L, Twin-Turbo V12 engine, enabling this behemoth that weighs 2360kg to sprint from 0-100kmh in a mind-boggling 4.6sec, and on to an electronically-controlled top speed of 250kmh. It’s really uncanny just how exceedingly fast this car is, especially when you factor in its size and weight. It’s simply not possible for something this big and heavy to move as urgently as it does. Think Andre the Giant out-sprinting Usain Bolt in the 100m dash and you’d not be far off.
The thing is though, from the inside it’s impossible to feel any of that aforementioned power, seeing as how passengers are ensconced in an interior that’s been fine-tuned for over a century by master craftsmen (and women) to return a ride experience like no other. It’s called the ‘Magic Carpet’ ride, and yes, thanks to clever air-suspension tweaking and technology, the ride – and handling – of the Wraith is quite simply, sublime. But frankly though, for want of a better word, it’s quite an eerie experience driving the Wraith, or being chauffeured in it.
As a passenger just sitting at the back, it’s like you’re totally disconnected from the outside world. Perhaps the only thing you will notice is just how fast other cars are being left behind. Away from that quietly burbling V12 up-front, the world simply disappears in a blur out the side window, as you resist the temptation to remove your shoes and socks if only to feel the lustrous deep-pile carpet between your toes…
Being at the wheel though, is a slightly different matter. It’s quite a travesty that oft times a car like this Wraith will be chauffeur driven, while its eventual owner languishes in the back, because in my book anyway, all the fun happens in the driver’s seat. Unlike ‘normal’ cars, the Wraith doesn’t have a rev-counter, opting instead for a ‘Power Reserve’ dial, which tells you exactly how much power you have on tap. In normal sedate cruising the needle on this dial hardly moves, seeing as how with 6.6-litres in a V12 affords the Wraith a sense of ambling-laziness when puttering along at legal highway speeds.
Mash the accelerator into the aforementioned deep-pile carpet though, and very quickly you realize what all the fuss is about. ‘Rollers’ have always been subtly powerful, choosing a more relaxed way of unleashing all its power, but the Wraith is a different beast altogether. With a colossal 800Nm of torque available from about 1,500rpm, its standstill and roll-on acceleration is incredible. Without that governed top-speed of 250kmh, there’s really no telling just how fast this car will top-out at because up till that point, there is absolutely zero let-up.
I’ll give you an example. Ever notice how some cars get to 140kmh very fast, but then take a week to get from 140 to 200? That’s because after a certain rev threshold, the engine is not making any power, it’s just making noise. Well, the Wraith suffers no such ignominy. It pulls hard all the way from 160, past 180, and doesn’t even hint of letting up after the double ton is met. 200kmh is seen-to frightfully easily and I’m quite sure that sans the aforementioned speed-cut, the Wraith would sail past 250kmh with consummate ease.
The thing is though, what makes it all so jaw-droppingly droolworthy is that the Wraith does all this so easily and so effortlessly, without a smidgen of protest. It just wafts along, and as cliché as it sounds, cruising along at 180kmh feels like you’re doing 80. It’s a technological tour-de-force too, and there’s so much going on behind the scenes that it’s impossible to list it all, so I’ll leave that to the official blurb appended below.
Instead, allow me to impart the feeling of what it’s like to own a Wraith, if only for a day. Actually, it’s impossible. As I hinted on much earlier, the Wraith isn’t a car. Well, yes it’s a car insofar as it has four wheels, an engine, a steering wheel, and it can carry passengers, but that’s like calling Beluga Caviar fish-eggs, it’s like calling a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache Grand Cru Monopole, house pouring wine (yeah I Googled that).
If anything, the Rolls-Royce Wraith is a statement. A very bold one. It really puts things into perspective when you realize that the Wraith’s 20-inch tyres alone cost more than the vehicle you came over in. But that’s the whole point isn’t it? When someone hunkers down and finally buys a car like this, it’s not so much a ‘look I’ve made it in life’ type message he or she is projecting – a Merc S-Class would be enough to impart that – it’s more like a life achievement that’s been unlocked.
Only a handful across the globe will ever get to have this in their driveway permanently, and that’s the appeal really; that’s its strongest selling point. The fact that hand-crafted cars like these still exist in a world were everyone’s making things cheaper, faster and in greater numbers, there’s still a market for the finer things in life. I normally end a review by mentioning the price of the vehicle in question, but somehow it feels somewhat vulgar to do so here. Because to me anyway, you simply cannot put a price on the kind of feeling you get with a Rolls-Royce Wraith, and simply put, that’s priceless. – Chris Wee.
Wraith Promotional Video:
Rolls-Royce Wraith Specifications:
|Vehicle length||5269 mm / 17 ft.3”|
|Vehicle width||1947 mm / 6 ft 5”|
|Vehicle height (unladen)||1507 mm / 4 ft 11”|
|Wheelbase||3112 mm / 10 ft 2”|
|Turning circle||12.7 m / 41.7 ft|
|Boot Volume (DIN)||470 ltr / 16.6 ft3|
|Unladen Weight (DIN)||2360 kg / 5203 lb|
|Engine / cylinders / valves||V / 12 / 48|
|Fuel management||Direct injection|
|Power output @ engine speed||624 bhp / 632 PS (DIN) / 465 kW @ 5,600 rpm|
|Max torque @ engine speed||800 Nm / lb ft @ 1,500-5,500 rpm|
|Fuel type||Super unleaded1|
|Top speed||250 km/h / 155 mph (governed)|
|Acceleration 0 – 60 mph (UK)||4.4 sec|
|Acceleration 0 – 100 km/h||4.6 sec|
|Urban||21.2 ltr/100 km / 13.3 mpg (Imp.)|
|Extra urban||9.8 ltr/100 km / 28.8 mpg (Imp.)|
|Combined consumption / range||14.0 ltr/100 km / 20.2 mpg (Imp.)|
|CO2 emissions||327 g/km|
Rolls-Royce Wraith Photo Gallery: (Photos by RR, Aaron Lee & CW)