Jonny's taken the Rolls-Royce Wraith for a UK road trip to see what the fuss is all about.
When you’re talking about numbers, there comes a point where they sort of stop mattering. At this point and beyond is where things more important than numbers come into play, the numbers just become a sort of, well, numbers. So what? You know?
At Rolls-Royce, they don’t really deal in numbers. The company says it doesn’t mind how many cars it sells each year, or how much time and money you want to put into your bespoke creation – and that’s exactly what a Rolls-Royce is, by the way. Ghost, Phantom, Dawn, these are really just names of car-shaped boxes into which you put your ideas, thoughts, experiences, and tastes in order to create a car that is apart from any other out on the road.
Rolls is understandably pretty tight-lipped on exactly what its customers request, it’s a firm that prides itself on exclusivity and discretion, but the company opened its doors to me for a good old chin-wag about how its cars come to life. Over the course of a few hours I quizzed, enquired and suggested, yet nothing really seemed to be impossible or out of reach. You want to crush diamonds so you can mix them into your paint? Sure. You want your car to be the exact same colour as your favourite horse? Sure, bring it in. You’d like just one massive comfy seat in the rear because it’s only for you to be chauffered around in and you’d like a fridge and film suite back there too? Pff, easy. The only limits there seem to be are those imposed by yourself. Rolls-Royce customers aren’t so worried about price and cost, they just want it to be perfect, and the company is obsessed with making sure the needs of the ultra-fortunate are met.
A Rolls-Royce of my own was parked patiently outside the front door of the Goodwood headquarters. It’s a Wraith. A two-door coupe powered by the company’s favoured 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 engine. That is quite a gigantic unit, and it produces the sort of numbers you do pay attention to. 624bhp, 870Nm of torque. These sorts of numbers are overkill in any other car, but in a Rolls-Royce power is there to simply make your life easier, not to throw you down the road so fast that your organs have to catch up with you at the next petrol station. This isn’t power for the sake of power, it’s power for the sake of comfort.
Clearly, when you weigh in at over 2,400kg, you need a bit of extra power to help get you moving along and believe me, the Wraith can really shift when it needs to. This particular model is a ‘Black Badge’, Rolls’ way of being a bit naughtier and edgier, without slipping into the trap of saying it’s sportier. In reality, you get a bit of extra torque and more characterful noises from the engine and exhaust along with black touches and a black Spirit of Ecstasy leaning into the breeze on the front of your bonnet.
The manner in which the Wraith drives is its biggest asset. The execution of the Rolls-Royce philosophy by engineers and designers simply can’t be praised enough. You float down your chosen path at a Goldilocks pace – not too fast, not too slow – in near silence, quite how the clever folk have managed to keep the noise from such a massive engine to a minimum I don’t know. Of course, it’s automatic, and the satellite-guided gearbox (yep…) always knows what gear it should be in, because it knows what is coming up next, so the Wraith never once felt hurried or caught-out.
While the world outside is flying past, you’re cocooned inside this beautifully trimmed world of leather and, in this model’s case, carbon fibre. Rolls-Royce does interiors quite like nobody else, and the amount of work that goes into producing this final overall finish to each individual car goes a long way to explaining just why the firm’s products are priced the way they are. This is craftsmanship deployed for you, so you can drive hundreds of miles at a time whilst feeling as little fatigue as possible.
If there’s one word that really sums up driving the Rolls-Royce Wraith it would be ‘easy’. There’s no difficulty or hardship to driving this near-£300,000 (starting price) coupe. Sure it’s very big, very heavy, and very powerful, but the steering is as light as a feather and it takes no time at all to feel at home inside the car. It’s a faithful friend, not hired help.
Once you’ve driven a Rolls-Royce, it becomes clear just exactly what the fuss is all about. No matter how much you decide to spend on one, it’s worth every penny.
CLICK TO ENLARGE