Rolls-Royce Wraith review

We drive the Rolls-Royce Wraith coupe in the UK. It's the most powerful and sporting Rolls-Royce ever built, but can it really justify its colossal £235,000 price?

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The Rolls-Royce Wraith isn’t like other coupes. At 5.3 metres long it’s closer in size to a Victorian semi than an Audi TT, and with a starting price of £235,000, it’s a lot closer in price, too.

It’s based on the platform of the Ghost luxury car (which in turn is based on the BMW 7 Series), but the Wraith has a shorter wheelbase and a wider rear axle than both of these cars to help make it more agile.

As in other Rolls-Royces, power comes from a V12 petrol engine, but here it’s been tuned to produce a mighty 624bhp – more than any other car in the company’s illustrious 107-year history.

What’s the Rolls-Royce Wraith like to drive?

Press the dashboard-mounted starter button and the Wraith’s twin-turbo V12 engine stirs into life so smoothly and quietly you’ll barely notice. It’s a similar story when you pull away, because although the scenery starts to move, you remain wonderfully isolated from any engine noise or vibration.

Gearchanges are utterly seamless, and because the sat-nav system is linked with the transmission, it can read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary shifts and ensure you always stay in the right gear.

However, the Wraith changes character completely when you bury your right foot in the shagpile carpet; the engine bellows loudly and sends you hurtling towards the horizon at a breathtaking rate. In fact, the Wraith is so fast it’ll embarrass an Audi R8 in a straight line.

Come to a corner, though, and you’ll quickly realise this 2.4-tonne behemoth is no sports car. When you turn the wheel there’s a lengthy pause before the Wraith’s huge bonnet starts to point in the direction you want it to go, and then the rest of the car reluctantly follows.

Adopt a slow-in, fast-out approach and it’s possible to hustle the Wraith along a country road surprisingly quickly, but the inconsistently weighted steering and mushy brake pedal do put a barrier between you and any fun. The slow steering rack comes into its own in town, though, and is light enough to make threading the Wraith's enormous bulk through traffic a relatively painless experience.

This isn’t likely to bother potential suitors that much at all, because they’re far more likely to use the car to traverse continents on fast, mostly straight roads. With that in mind, though, the Wraith doesn’t ride quite as serenely as you might expect. It’s never uncomfortable, but fidgets around more than we’d like over minor imperfections. That’s a shame, because bigger bumps are smothered remarkably well.

Motorway refinement also leaves a little to be desired, because although the Wraith’s engine remains ghostly quiet at 70mph, its frameless side windows generate an annoying amount of wind noise.

What’s the Rolls-Royce Wraith like inside?

The Wraith’s rear-hinged doors are obviously a great conversation-starter, but more importantly they make it easier for you to get into and out of the car; except, of course, if you pull up too close to a fuel pump at the petrol station. When the doors are open, you can’t reach the door pulls from the front seats, but this isn’t a problem because the doors close electrically at the touch of a button.

Inside, quality is just as exceptional as you’d expect. Swathes of the finest grain wood and leather cover nearly every visible surface, and chromed knobs and handles only add to the feeling that no expense has been spared.

True, the infotainment system has been borrowed from a BMW 7 Series, but that’s no bad thing because it’s one of the best systems we’ve tried. What’s more, the buttons and dials you use to control it have all been treated to a bespoke look and feel, so at no point do you feel short-changed.

The driving position is hard to fault, other than the fact that visibility isn’t great. The high window line is the big issue here, because it means it’s tricky to see kerbs and other low-lying obstacles in the road.

Reversing into a parking space also requires you to put all your faith in the parking sensors, because the chunky rear pillars block much of your rearward view. The car we tried was covered in cream leather, and in bright sunlight the reflection renders the rear window almost completely useless.

Sitting in the back of a coupe isn’t always an enjoyable experience, but things are different in the Wraith. While getting there isn’t all that easy because you have to squeeze through a fairly narrow gap, you’ll have no issues with head- and legroom unless you’re well over six-feet tall.

The 470-litre boot is fairly narrow, but it's easily long enough for a couple of suitcases, and is ultimately quite a bit bigger than a Bentley Continental GT’s.

The Wraith comes with all the luxuries you’d expect. However, if you want to spend even more there are plenty of ways to do so. Options include a headlining adorned with thousands of fibre-optics, designed to look like stars in the night sky, and one of the most powerful stereo systems we have every experienced.

As with any Rolls-Royce, the company’s bespoke department will further tailor the Wraith in virtually any way you desire, although you’ll pay dearly for this service, and depending on your personal taste it could have an impact on the car's resale values.

Should I buy one?

It’s impossible to make a financial case for the Wraith. It might be supercar quick and supremely classy, but (objectively at least) there’s no way it’s worth nearly twice as much as a Bentley Continental GT V8.

However, if you look past the price and accept that anyone considering a Rolls is unlikely to be too fussed about an extra £100,000 or so, the Wraith has plenty of appeal. It’s far more comfortable and refined than similarly priced exotica, such as the Ferrari FF, and its stately looks and sheer size command attention that you simply won't get in anything else.

The Wraith might not be without its flaws, then, but it’s a hugely desirable ownership proposition for the privileged few who can afford it.

What Car? says...

 

Rivals:

Bentley Continental GT

Ferrari FF

Specification
Engine size 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12
Price from £235,000
Power 624bhp
Torque 590lb ft
0-60mph 4.4sec
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Fuel economy 20.2mpg
CO2 emissions 327g/km

 
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