Hauntings from the soon-to-be-departed
Were you disappointed you did not get one of the three Rolls-Royce Boattail model built by the marque’s new Coachbuild division? Or, did you feel that the reported $25 million price tag was a tad much to spend on an automobile designed specifically to go on picnics?
Well, cheer up old chap, and take solace in knowing there are plenty of pretty special Rolls-Royce models on the market. By the end of this year, the Rolls-Royce Wraith coupe (and its Dawn convertible sibling) will be departing, and it’s the only current Rolls we’ve not taken a closer look into. So, here goes.
Party of Five
The Rolls-Royce family has certainly grown in the last decade, now numbering five models: Ghost and Phantom sedans, Cullinan SUV, Wraith coupe and Dawn convertible. The latter two are based on the first-generation Ghost’s chassis, while the others are built upon the newer Architecture of Luxury platform. Rolls has not said what might replace these two models, but not to worry. Perhaps the Coachbuilt Boattail might inspire new coupe and convertible production models.
Rolls-Royce unveiled the Wraith at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, adopting a name from a 1938 model. The name that sounds so cultured in a Rollsy way has a ghoulish meaning. The Oxford dictionary defines a wraith as “a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen shortly before or after their death.” Many people are intrigued by the idea of British castles haunted by ghosts, so why not a car?
The production Wraith model arrived for 2014 and was arguably the most sporting Rolls-Royce since, well, ever. The Wraith’s 122.5-inch wheelbase was seven inches shorter than the Ghost’s, with overall length cut by just over five inches to 207.
Is the Rolls-Royce Wraith really a Bentley Continental GT competitor? Bite your tongue! The 2021 Wraith starts at about $330,000 before you put your stamp on it with options. At over $100,000 less than the Rolls, the Bentley coupe might be boisterous twice-removed cousin. If you insist on comparing the two, then simply get one of each.
While the Wraith is about 200 pounds lighter than the Ghost, its 5,300 pound girth is hardly wraith-like. Rolls-Royce, however, blessed the big coupe with even more power, giving it a 624-horsepower version of the BMW-derived 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12, a 61-hp advantage over the Ghost. Power is funneled through a creamy-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. Car & Driver estimates that the Wraith will haunt the pavement with a 4.3-second 0-60 run and disappear down the quarter-mile in a mere 12.6 seconds.
So, yes, this big machine can move, though it’s not quite as if the Ghost and Mrs. Miura had a baby. If you’re looking for a more thrilling drive with the British luxury, look to the Continental GT or an Aston Martin. The Wraith’s mission is to pound bumps into submission and coddle occupants with an uncannily silent and swift ride. The rear seat is spacious for two, and all four seats are heated.
Beauty, as always is subjective, and the Wraith’s take on a fastback roofline may not seem all that graceful to some eyes. But it is a pillarless roof, or “hardtop” in the American lexicon and a design once as common as Cutlass Supremes. As a true hardtop, all side widows go down, with no center pillar interrupting the view or airflow. The Wraith is one of the few remaining hardtops extant; the Bentley Continental is another, as are the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class coupes.
The Wraith’s standout body feature is what Rolls calls “coach doors,” which pen rearward and, in some minds, still carry the unfortunate nickname “suicide doors.” Rolls might name a car for a departed spirit, but the company certainly does not want to suggest the nature of the departure.
As in any Rolls, the Wraith offers occupants pinnacle luxury. The cabin is lined in the finest leather, with of course genuine hand-finished woods, polished metals and available carbon fiber accents. The list of options could go on for days, but the one not to pass up is the surreal Starlight Headliner (see photo) that gives you a starry night every night.
Will the Wraith Reincarnate?
Daniel Golson, writing a review for c|net Road Show, summed up the Wraith thusly:
“The Wraith is easy to drive, even on tight LA city streets. It’s powerful and quick as hell, the ride quality is impeccable, the interior is cosseting and isolating, and the super light and direct steering is unlike any other car’s – you can literally steer with just a pinky finger.”
We would not expect Rolls-Royce to walk away from this segment, where its premium pricing can more than make up for the low volume. Although dead or dying pretty much everywhere else, the true coupe style seems destined to keep a place in luxury’s upper echelon.