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A Rolls-Royce

Published

For the Owner to Drive

Don’t get me wrong, the giant Rolls-Royce Phantom is not a difficult machine to operate. But even drivers who love the girth of this flagship, when they’re behind the wheel, may look like the hired help. And I’d submit that self-esteem is one of the reasons you might buy the world’s most prestigious automobile.

 

Big, rear-hinged doors open wide to the Wraith’s handcrafted interior
Big, rear-hinged doors open wide to the Wraith’s handcrafted interior

Coupe Challenge

Two-door coupes are a challenging market for automakers. Buyers are either young without children, empty nesters, or people with a fleet of vehicles to choose from. If there’s a commonality, it’s a need for stylish design. But fashion statements can have a short life and that’s a problem for product planners who need time to recoup a major investment. Rolls-Royce designers gladly took up the coupe challenge.

 
The new Rolls-Royce Wraith, with its classic fastback style, brings a timeless elegance to a market where owners have confidence in their affluence without the need to add an exclamation point. And thanks to large, rear-hinged doors, it’s a coupe that allows the owner to bring friends along for the ride, even if they’re not millennials or yoga instructors.

 

Wickedly Smooth

Rolls-Royce separated fully from Bentley in 2003 with BMW Group retaining a lofty, monarchal stature for Rolls-Royce while archrival VW Group took Bentley back to its sporting roots. From a price standpoint, Bentley starts a notch above Mercedes-Benz and prices for the Rolls lineup begin just above Bentley.

 
While it’s hard to find rough edges in this elevated category, there are differences. The Wraith adds sportiness to its stoic British sensibility with a twin-turbocharged V8 developing 624 HP. That prodigious power can launch the 5,380-pound coupe with aplomb, achieving 0 to 60 sprints in a sports car-like 4.4 seconds. But there’s nothing noisy or frantic about this alacrity. It simply occurs on demand and it’s a wonderful attribute when you’re passing someone on a two-lane road.

Not everyone can do a proper fastback style, but then not everyone can do two-tone paint
Not everyone can do a proper fastback style, but then not everyone can do two-tone paint

Have it Your Way

We unruly colonists have forever lacked the patience to have a motorcar custom built for us. That’s changing. Affluent buyers have discovered the value of “bespoke” coachwork to create a car that precisely fits their personal requirements and taste. Sure, you have to wait for the results but just as you would allow a custom tailor to fabricate your suit, the outcome is worth it.

 
The Rolls-Royce craftsmen in Goodwood, England are delighted to sew ostrich leather into your glove-soft seats if that’s what you wish for, just like artisans did in the 1930s classic era. Or match your favorite color from a family heirloom. Or create wood accents of your choice. You get the idea.
Of course there are limits and sometimes things go wrong. One owner wished for a sound system that equaled his amazing home equipment. The bespoke shop accommodated his wishes with custom electronics, but the car’s electrical architecture rejected this foreign intrusion. It may have been superior to the already excellent Rolls-Royce audio, but the computers refused to become friends.

 
So if your really terrific ship has landed and you want to reward yourself, the Wraith is an exemplary choice. The only fault I could find with our test car is that we had to give it back.    Brian Douglas

Sporting elegance best describes the Wraith coupe with its long hood and steeply raked windshield
Sporting elegance best describes the Wraith coupe with its long hood and steeply raked windshield

 

Exterior: Photography by Brian Douglas     Interior: Photography courtesy of Rolls-Royce

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