£253,365 - £290,535 Price range
The Rolls-Royce Wraith is the smallest and most powerful car the Goodwood-based carmaker currently sells. It’s aimed at lavish grand tourers such as the Bentley Continental GT, Mercedes S Class Coupe and the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, but can cost nearly twice as much.
A Rolls with more room for the driver than for passengers sounds surprising, but that’s because the Wraith is made to be driver-focused above all else. It’s definitely not a sports car, but the sharp steering and overall driver involvement should be exciting enough for any Rolls-Royce owner. Once you’ve had your fun the Wraith is no less comfortable or dignified than any of its larger brothers.
Despite being pitched as the most dynamic Rolls-Royce, the Wraith’s interior is its strongest selling point – the quality of the wood, the softness of the leather and the deepness of the carpets are yet to be matched by rivals. Behind the traditional design of the fascia lies the latest in-car technology borrowed from BMW and as an optional extra you can have a headliner containing more than 1,000 LED ‘stars’ which makes any night drive a spectacle.
With more than 600bhp the Wraith isn’t slow, but it never feels as fast as the numbers suggest. The clever eight-speed automatic gearbox always has the right gear for the occasion, but the lack of manual control is a little disappointing in this fastest Rolls-Royce.
A comprehensive list of the standard equipment will take up the whole page, so rest assured that a car with such a price tag comes with everything imaginable from the factory. Of course the option list is as extensive as in any other luxury grand tourer, but there are no prices mentioned, because if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it.
The Wraith is packed with beautiful details – whether it’s the rear-hinged ‘suicide’ doors that make getting in and out a dignified spectacle or just the impossibly smooth action of the cupholder cover – few other car interiors come as close to perfection. The cabin not only combines some of the best materials to ever grace a car’s cockpit, impeccable build quality and a timeless design, but also comes with all the latest in-car technology.
This means the Wraith’s infotainment system is actually BMW’s highly rated iDrive, albeit with different graphics and more exquisite controls. As infotainment systems go, the iDrive is one of the snappiest and easiest to use and the Wraith-specific menus on the 10.3-inch screen match the interior design perfectly. The sat-nav receives live traffic updates so it can avoid heavy traffic and also communicates with the gearbox to hold onto a gear if there’s a steep hill on the way – just to make sure the drive is as smooth as possible.
Rolls-Royce Wraith passenger space
Historically the passenger has been much more important for Rolls-Royce than the driver, but the Wraith does things the other way around – the seating position is low like in a sports car, yet you are still perched upright, looking over other lesser road users. There is generous space in the front and more than enough in the back, although the sloping roof reduces headroom. The low roof and the small rear window translate to appalling rearward visibility, but the standard parking sensors are there to help.
Rolls-Royce Wraith boot space
The Wraith might look like a hatchback, but it has a regular saloon car boot door that opens up a relatively small opening which leads to a surprisingly deep luggage area. The capacity of 470 litres should be more than enough for a long driving holiday on the continent.
Sitting on a shortened and widened version of the Rolls-Royce Ghost’s chassis, the Wraith delivers the sort of driver involvement and satisfaction that until recently wasn’t a huge priority for the company. Even though the Wraith comes with highly-advanced air suspension as standard and a twin-turbocharged V12 engine under the bonnet, there is no way to ignore the two and a half tonne weight.
Mash the accelerator and after a short delay (‘Are you sure, sir?’) the Wraith shoots to a point in the horizon with the same ease and linearity of a plane taking off. However, try to corner fast and you’re fighting a losing battle against the laws of physics. The Wraith is closely related to the 2014 BMW 7 Series and as a result adopts the same approachable handling and natural balance that inspires confidence. Many reviewers agree the Wraith is extremely easy to drive fast, but still has that Rolls-Royce sense of detachment.
The Wraith isn’t just fast – it’s also extremely comfortable. The air suspension might introduce some body roll in fast corners and the steering might be a bit too vague, but the overall ride quality is so good we’re prepared to let those two niggles slide. There isn’t a bump, pothole or expansion joint to unsettle the Wraith and it always retains a ‘wafty’ ride.
The Mercedes S65 AMG Coupe has four exhaust pipes, red brake calipers and an aggressive bodykit just to hint at the 621hp under its bonnet. Yet if you park the Rolls-Royce next to it, there is nothing telling you the Wraith packs 3bhp more. It’s the same with the way it accelerates, too – it never feels as fast as the 4.4 seconds quoted by the manufacturer.
Most of the engine’s pulling power is available just above tickover and this translates to fantastic in-gear acceleration that buries you in the seat, but if Rolls-Royce really wants the Wraith to be the most exciting car in it’s range there needs to be more engine noise – the slightly slower, but quite a bit louder Bentley Continental GT makes its presence known much better than the whooshing Wraith.
According to Rolls-Royce eight out of 10 Wraiths sold are individually configured, so the price of the car is definitely not an issue for prospective buyers. Costs aside, the Rolls-Royce is simply a better car than its rivals. The Mercedes might be more high-tech, the Ferrari might be much better to drive and the Bentley might be a more brash way of showing off your wealth, but no other car makes driving such a special occasion as the Rolls-Royce does.