Rolls-Royce Spectre review

Category: Electric car

The Spectre is the first electric Rolls-Royce and delivers amazing refinement but a so-so range

Rolls-Royce Spectre front cornering
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front cornering
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre rear cornering
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre test drive
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre boot
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre driver display
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre right driving
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front right driving
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front cornering
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre rear cornering
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre rear left driving
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front right static
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front static doors open
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre left static
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre headlights
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre alloy wheel
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre door handles
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre rear lights
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre door open
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre door umbrella
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre starlight headliner
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front seats
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre back seats
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre dashboard
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre infotainment touchscreen
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre air-con controls
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre control dial
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front cornering
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre rear cornering
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre test drive
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre boot
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre driver display
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre right driving
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front right driving
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front cornering
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre rear cornering
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre rear left driving
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front right static
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front static doors open
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre left static
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre headlights
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre alloy wheel
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre door handles
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre rear lights
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre door open
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre door umbrella
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre starlight headliner
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre front seats
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre back seats
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre dashboard
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre infotainment touchscreen
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre air-con controls
  • Rolls-Royce Spectre control dial
What Car?’s SPECTRE deals
New car deals
Target Price from £332,055
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £359,000

Introduction

What Car? says...

Quick quiz: Who said the following – and when? "The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration, and they should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged." Answer: Charles Royce in 1900.

Fast forward to 2024 and the Rolls-Royce co-founder's prophecy has been realised in the form of this Rolls-Royce Spectre – the first battery-powered model to carry the Spirit of Ecstasy on the prow of its bonnet.

The Spectre is an electric luxury coupé with two doors, and is immense in every sense of the word. It sits on an adapted version of the aluminium underpinning used in the Rolls-Royce Cullinan with a 102kWh battery between the sills.

Rolls-Royce says the total power developed from the Spectre’s two electric motors is equivalent to 576bhp, with 664 lb/ft of torque at your disposal. We’ll get into the details of its performance a bit later on, but for now, let’s just say it's "sufficient".

The question is, does the Spectre feel like a real Rolls-Royce? Well that’s what we’re about to find out in this review, where we’ll dive into questions of what it's like to drive, how refined it in and whether interior quality is up to scratch.

And while the Spectre doesn’t yet have any direct electric car rivals (the closest you'll find is the BMW i7 or Mercedes EQS), we’ll let you know how we rate it against the best coupés that offer similar luxury. They include the Aston Martin DB12 and Bentley Continental GT. Read on to find out how it performs...

Overview

By delivering an authentic Rolls-Royce driving experience, the Spectre sets a new standard for luxury EVs. We’re talking world-class levels of effortlessness, comfort and refinement. If it wasn’t for its sub-250-mile real-world range you’d be looking at a five-star car.

  • You can whisper to your passengers at 70mph
  • The level of fit and finish is off the charts
  • Effortless to guide down a country road
  • Sub 250-mile real-world range
  • Cheaper EVs charge more quickly
  • Low-speed ride could be better
New car deals
Target Price from £332,055
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £359,000

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Silent at a cruise
  • +Effortless performance
  • +Surprisingly agile

Weaknesses

  • -Low-speed ride could be a touch plusher
  • -Real-world range is a bit disappointing 

Imagine you’re sitting on the deck of a yacht as it leaves port. Instead of accelerating smoothly and steadily out to sea, it lifts its bow and powers towards the horizon with the pace of a jet ski – just as you’re about to sip your negroni.

That hopefully goes some way to describing what it’s like to accelerate out of a junction in a Rolls-Royce Spectre. Despite weighing close to three tonnes and measuring just shy of 5.5 metres long, its instant electric shove means 0-60mph takes less than 4.5 seconds – just half a second down on a V8-powered Bentley Continental GT

It’s a wonderful but also somewhat disorientating sensation because while you can feel the G-force acting on your body there’s no real sense of speed.

There is a near-total absence of electric-motor noise and next to no wind rush until you reach speeds north of the national speed limit (we drove it on a private test track). All the inherent noise, vibration and harshness that comes with driving a regular electric car are only notable by their absence.

Rolls-Royce SPECTRE image
Skip the showroom and find out more online

As a result, you have to keep your eye on the speedometer, because even on a twisting, broiling country road you can find yourself going too quickly.

Maintaining momentum requires minimum effort. The four-wheel steering system and active anti-roll suspension tech work away in the background to increase agility and prevent the car from leaning over during cornering. 

Better yet, there are no driving modes or regenerative braking adjustment paddles on the back of the Spectre's thin-rimmed steering wheel. If you want one-pedal driving with strong regen, there’s a B button on the stalk you can push, but that’s your lot.

Like a luxurious restaurant with a set menu, the chef – or in this case the engineers – has done the hard work for you, finding a set-up that just works. The steering, for example, is light but slow enough not to feel hyperactive. The accelerator pedal is long in its travel but linear, while the brakes are beautifully judged to meter out stopping power easily and effectively.

It does, however, fall short of perfection. You see, while the Spectre is capable of delivering a magic carpet ride at motorway speeds, around town sharp impacts still make themselves known. Fundamentally there's only so much you can do to contain the mass of a 23in wheel, and potholes and large abrasions occasionally causing a bit of a clunk.

The easiest solution to this problem is to get out of the UK and head for the Continent, but that brings us on to the controversial topic of range.

Rolls-Royce says the Spectre's official range of 328 miles is plenty, especially when the average owner will be rich enough to own several other cars. But when you jump behind the wheel of the Spectre, push the Start button and see a predicted range read-out of 255 miles at a 100% charge, it doesn’t exactly scream "world’s most luxurious electric car".

Rolls-Royce Spectre rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Class-leading fit and finish
  • +Electric doors work well
  • +Physical buttons everywhere

Weaknesses

  • -Poor visibility

Climb aboard the Rolls-Royce Spectre through the powered, impossibly long rear-hinged doors and you find yourself surrounded by huge slabs of wood and expertly stitched soft leathers.

It is all wonderfully lavish and, dare we say it, a touch garish. We wouldn’t, for example, be tempted to add the optional Starlight roof lining, where lights create the appearance of a starfield at night, or the Starlight doors, which introduce a further 5,876 LEDs.

However, you can’t deny that the Spectre's interior is wonderfully theatrical. Even closing the door is an occasion – simply squeeze the brake pedal and it swings silently to a gentle close, as if an invisible butler was at your service.

Current Rolls-Royce owners will be pleased to find that the Spectre's interior is reassuringly traditional, despite the tech going on underneath.

Controlling the temperature, for example, is still done using traditional blower dials and organ-stop vents. And while the dials are now digital rather than physical, we love that Rolls has retained the wonderfully understated "power reserve dial", which now reads beyond 100% to account for the Spectre’s regenerative braking.

The infotainment system is clearly a reskinned version of one of BMW’s later iDrive touchscreen systems but that is no bad thing. In fact, we reckon it's class-leading thanks to its pin-sharp graphics, logical layout and rotary input dial.

The dial makes it much easier to navigate the system while you're driving. And unlike on BMWs, there's a a row of eight physical buttons on the dashboard that you can set to control everything from lane-keep assist to the retraction of the Spirit of Ecstasy. Brilliant. 

Complaints? Well, it does take some time to figure out the lay-out of all the buttons at your disposal. For example, the massage setting for the seats is located on the door, but the seat heater and cooler buttons are on the dashboard. Why not group them together?

Rolls has also placed menu buttons around – rather than alongside – the rotary controller as you get in a BMW. The result is a neat-looking set-up but the controller blocks your view of the buttons on the passenger side, which is far from ideal.

In terms of visibility, the Spectre's nose is so long that’s it’s tricky to judge where it ends. and visibility out to the rear is hampered by wide rear pillars. Mercifully, front and rear parking sensors come as standard and the surround-view camera is excellent.

Rolls-Royce Spectre test drive

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Plenty of space up front
  • +Six-footers will fit in the back with ease
  • +Decent-sized boot

Weaknesses

  • -Storage space could be better

Space isn’t a problem if you’re sitting in the front of the Rolls-Royce Spectre, where head, leg and shoulder room are in generous supply.

True, the news isn’t quite so good for those in the back, but it's still more practical than most coupé cars including the Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB12.

Six-footers will be fine and the rear quarter windows are surprisingly large and help to flood the rear seats with light. If you have friends who are considerably taller than six feet, we’d recommend taking a look at a Rolls-Royce Cullinan or Rolls-Royce Phantom – or perhaps even a Bentley Flying Spur.

Storage around the interior is sufficient rather than generous. The door pockets are short and slim, but there’s a reasonable-sized glovebox and a small cubby under the central armrest.

The Spectre's boot is a touch narrower than you might expect, but it’s long and reasonably deep. At 380 litres, it gives you more boot space than the Continental GT (520 litres), DB12 (262 litres) and Ferrari Roma (272 litres). There’s a hidden storage compartment under the boot floor for your charging cable.

Rolls-Royce Spectre boot

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Plenty of standard kit
  • +Cheaper to run than a V12 Rolls-Royce
  • +Unlimited personalisation options 

Weaknesses

  • -Expensive in every sense of the word
  • -Poor efficiency
  • -Limited real-world range

Nobody on a budget buys a new Rolls-Royce, so the fact that the Spectre’s starting price makes a Bentley Continental GT look cheap is unlikely to put people off. If anything, the sky-high pricing is something we suspect will attract buyers rather than put them off.

Likewise, day-to-day running costs are unlikely to be a concern. The Spectre is cheaper to "fuel" than a V12 Rolls-Royce Phantom the cost of charging will pale into insignificance when you see the insurance premiums and servicing costs.

That said, we should speak about charging speed. The Spectre is capable of charging its 102kWh battery at up to 195kW. That's not bad – but not groundbreaking either. On a rapid charger, a 10% to 80% charge will take around 36 minutes. That’s around 15 minutes slower than the Porsche Taycan and Lotus Eletre

Will that matter to buyers? We doubt it from a use-case perspective. You don’t need much charge to travel from your country manor to the farm shop and back. But when it comes to bragging rights, it might sting a bit that your new electric Rolls doesn’t have a cutting-edge battery.

The same goes for the range. If you’re planning a road trip to Saint-Tropez you’ll leave the leccy Rolls at home and take something petrol-powered. But it's a shame the Spectre isn’t a touch more efficient. On an extended run we saw an average of 2.4 miles/kWh, giving it a real-world range of around 245 miles. That’s less than you’ll get from an entry-level Tesla Model 3 RWD

The Spectre’s extensive list of standard features includes heated and ventilated seats, lambs wool floor mats and a head-up display, but you’ll want to add options. We would recommend the truly stunning Rolls-Royce bespoke audio system, which is as good as any premium sound system we’ve heard.


For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Rolls-Royce Spectre driver display

FAQs

  • The Spectre costs from around £330,000 so it's significantly more expensive than its closest rivals, including the Bentley Continental GT.

  • Yes, the Spectre is an electric car. If you want a petrol-powered Rolls, you'll have to look at the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, the Rolls-Royce Ghost or the Rolls-Royce Phantom.

  • Yes, it's a two-door, four-seater coupé with room for four full-sized adults.

At a glance
New car deals
Target Price from £332,055
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £359,000
RRP price range £332,055 - £332,055
Number of trims (see all)1
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 2
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £664 / £664
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,328 / £1,328
Available colours