Photography: Jan Glovac, Karl Peskett.
Vehicle Style: Two-door, super-luxury coupe.
Price: $645,000 (drive-away)
Engine/Trans: 465kW/800Nm 6.6 12cyl petrol | 8spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 14.0l/100km | tested: 19.7l/100km
When the Rolls-Royce Ghost was launched in 2011, it didn’t take much imagination to foresee a two-door version emerging soon after.
It was the styling which got tongues wagging. The fastback roofline shape isn’t new to the brand - the 1952 Silver Dawn sports similar lines, but this modern, sporting approach caught some by surprise.
The difference between Ghost and Wraith, however, is the focus on driving pleasure.
Revised suspension, quicker steering, more power and a very special transmission make this the most sporting, and the quickest, Rolls-Royce ever.
Rolls-Royce invited us to put it to the test and to take the Wraith on a country tour.
From Sydney we headed into the Hunter Valley, mixing up freeway cruising, bumpy country backroads and winding switchbacks to see how the Wraith handled it.
Quality: Let’s get this out of the way right now: There’s a problem with the interior of a Rolls-Royce - you find yourself running out of superlatives.
The quality is outstanding. In fact, you won’t find better in any brand.
Almost all surfaces are wood, leather, carpet or metal, and the very few plastics which have been used are all of high grade. Run your hand along each surface and your fingertips will tell you how well put together the Wraith is.
The mirror shine to the lacquer, the gleaming chrome, the padding behind areas which will never get touched at all - the attention to detail is wonderful.
The “tipped leather” used on our test car’s door trims and centre console is unique. Where the grain is raised, tiny peaks form, which are then accented in a different colour, forming a light-coloured stipple effect.
While it looks like it feels textured, the hide’s smoothness and comfort is second to none. Tudor Oak veneer brings a traditional feel.
A bright-chrome treadplate with embossed lettering reminds you that this car was “Specially commissioned for Australia”.
Comfort: A four-seater? But surely that sloping roofline will eat into headroom, right? Sorry, but no.
Rear-seat passengers are treated to an expansive seating area, one that you wouldn’t normally associate with a coupe. Legroom is plentiful, even with a six-foot driver up front. Headroom is likewise generous.
And believe it or not, that starlight headlining actually has a calming effect, and can be brightened or dimmed to suit your mood, or the time of day. In the evening, with the “stars” above your head, the Wraith is a serene way to cover ground.
The seats are so well padded that there’s no fidgeting or shuffling, even after hours at the wheel. Indeed, passengers tend to fall asleep (like our photographer, who took a few naps along the journey).
As a Rolls-Royce should be, the Wraith is very, very comfortable.
Equipment: When you’re paying this much money, you expect plenty of equipment, and the Wraith doesn’t disappoint.
Up front is the automatically retracting Spirit of Ecstasy, and in the case of this press car, it’s crafted from a transclucent polycarbonate, and then lit from its base. At night, it’s quite spectacular.
The coach doors are not to be closed by hand - that would be too much exertion - there are buttons there which will shut them for you, even if the car is on a slope. The wheels also have self-righting centres, so the R-R logo is always the right way up.
Up front is a huge, 10.2-inch high-res screen for the infotainment system. Using BMW’s iDrive as a basis, the Wraith’s connectivity has a thoroughly modern feel, despite its classic appearance.
As we come to expect these days, there’s Bluetooth telephony and audio, digital radio, DVD player, MP3, plus iPod and USB connectivity, all running through a simply awesome 18-speaker, DIRAC surround Bespoke sound system.
Fitted to our test car was also active cruise control, head-up display, lane departure warning, adaptive headlights, 360 degree camera system, and night-vision, a cool feature that uses an infra-red camera to look ahead for pedestrians and animals.
Storage: The Wraith features a large glovebox, plus a stowage area under the armrest (though that is eaten into by the silly BMW-spec phone holder).
Map pockets are found on each of the front seats, and the door trims have wide, long pockets which will hold a couple of water bottles end to end.
Cup holders are found for front and rear, hidden in recesses or covered by sliding lids. There are also coin trays and business-card holders under a sliding lid on the centre console.
The boot (which automatically opens and closes) is 470 litres, plus there’s a large parcel shelf behind the rear seats. All in all, there’s a good amount of storage.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Leaving Sydney and heading along the motorway at night to the picturesque Hunter Valley in NSW, it becomes apparent just how quiet the Wraith really is.
It also shows how cruelled this V12 express-train is by our draconian speed limits.
With 465kW and a massive 800Nm backed up by a ZF eight-speed transmission, the Wraith has some serious mumbo to get it going.
But sitting at 100kmh with the power reserve dial hovering around 90-95 percent, it’s well under its potential.
Thanks to its adaptive cruise control, keeping at the speed limit isn’t an issue - it’ll accelerate and brake of its own accord - so rather than complain about how slow it seemed, we sat back, cranked up the Bespoke Audio sound system and revelled in five-star luxury.
On the way out the next day, however, we went a slightly longer route - via Putty Road.
Those who have driven this road before will know that a Rolls-Royce would not be the first pick for such a ribbon-like piece of tarmac.
But that’s to miss out on the beauty of the Wraith.
This is a 5.3-metre, 2360kg luxury car that will surprise you - it does actually handle. Not like a sports car, of course, but it settles into each corner, flattening and resisting roll remarkably.
Pressing the Low button on the gear stalk is the equivalent of pressing the Sport button in most cars. It hangs onto the gears for longer and gives you a sharper punch out of corners.
Plant your foot from rest and the V12 stirs somewhere up front, with a gentle whoosh, like you’re awakening a huge beast from slumber. Then there’s an almighty shove from behind.
The torque builds like a tidal wave, releasing in a relentless shower of acceleration.
The Wraith simply lunges from standstill, picking up the nose, and storming from 0-100kmh in 4.6 seconds.
More impressive is its overtaking ability. Pick an opportunity, flatten the accelerator and the Wraith will slingshot you toward the horizon at an eye-widening rate.
It may be speed limited to 250kmh, but it feels like it could break the sound barrier.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the driveline is the satellite-aided transmission (SAT). Linked to the GPS system, the Wraith “looks” ahead to what is coming and chooses gears appropriately.
Sound like a gimmick? It isn’t. There’s no kickdown, it will hold gears when needed and as it learns the road’s incline, it works out the best ratio to use. It’s a very, very clever system.
Refinement: A Rolls-Royce will never disappoint when it comes to refinement. Shut the large rear-hinged doors and the silence is deafening.
Press the start button and there’s a quiet whirr from up front, followed by the gentlest of rev flares. Once that happens, the silence returns.
On the roll, if the road surface is bad, there’s certainly some more road noise, but it’s all relative - we’re talking a mere decibel or two. Potholes are treated as a distant thump.
At full throttle, the twin-turbo V12 becomes slightly more audible, but it’s still very quiet. And with a transmission that changes seamlessly, the whole powertrain is silky smooth.
Refined? There’s no other automotive brand that does it better.
Ride and Handling: Rolls-Royce is well known for its suspension prowess, but making the Wraith the most “dynamic” car the company has ever produced is quite a challenge.
Fine handling normally brings stiffer suspension, and that is most unbecoming. Putty Road’s surface changes and camber differences really test out a car’s damping, especially one that weighs over 2.3-tonnes.
After several switchbacks and open runs, it becomes apparent that the Wraith strikes the unusual balance of an impeccable ride and surefooted grip.
Its steering is precise on-road but also light enough to make parking a breeze. It really is an excellent balance between the two.
Braking: Ventilated discs front and back slow things down nicely.
In our hands on a tight and twisty road, not once did the pedal show signs of softening, despite some very heavy braking and also despite the Wraith's massive weight.
ANCAP rating: Sensibly, the Wraith hasn’t been crash tested by either ANCAP or EuroNCAP.
Safety features: Rolls-Royce hasn’t skimped when it comes to safety features.
The iBrake 6 function uses the front radar sensor plus cameras to monitor the road ahead and pre-fill the brake system ready for any sudden braking. It also warns you if you don’t brake quick enough.
“Auto eCall” is activated if there is a crash, and if the driver is unable to speak, the car alerts emergency services to its location through the sat-nav.
There are seat belts with force limiters, front, side and knee airbags, as well as curtain airbags to cover the entire side glass area.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Rolls-Royce offers a four-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on its cars.
Service costs: Servicing is included during the warranty period.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG Coupe ($450,000) - A more sports-oriented drive than the Wraith, the S-Class Coupe has cutting edge technology and a stonking engine but doesn’t cosset the driver in the same way (see S-Class reviews)
Bentley Continental GT Speed ($405,000) - With all-wheel-drive, the GT Speed has plenty of grip in all conditions, but its lack of rear legroom and very firm ride see it more in a sports GT role, rather than a superluxury coupe. (see Bentley reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With a land as open and wide as ours, there are few better cars to tackle cross-country cruising than the Wraith. Every journey will have you emerging refreshed, and every trip will be a pleasure.
With its ability to be able to handle just about any road you throw at it, the Wraith is never out of its depth.
And while it is a big car, it can still go through car parks and drive-throughs without kerbing its lovely wheels.
Like its namesake, it has an almost supernatural gliding quality. It’s a car that wants for nothing.
Power, grace, quality and enjoyment - the Wraith is a rare breed indeed.
MORE: Wraith News & Reviews