The self-indulgent temptress proves she’s an affair to remember
“If it does not exist design it.”
That straight-forward mandate was the tail-end of Sir Henry Royce’s business philosophy; a phrase that would probably top the gentleman’s LinkedIn profile if he were alive today. Yet despite their coiner’s passing, the words remain a central pillar of Rolls-Royce’s corporate ideology. And they ring no truer than in the silhouette of the brand’s latest halo car, the Wraith.
I also like to imagine that the Wraith is a product of the coachbuilder monitoring my own quotes and social media decrees. As the brand’s now decade-long resurgence first picked up steam, I personally took every opportunity to call out athletes and entertainers who piloted their own Phantoms. Granted, I did ease up a bit with the introduction of the Ghost, but something was still missing. Then she came along.
Boldly bursting into the small circle of ultra-luxury, self-driven sport offerings – previously dominated by Bentley’s GT Speed – the Wraith is every bit as stunning in person as her reputation makes her out to be. Opening her mile-long coach door by my own hand hardly felt like a violation of etiquette; though wearing shoes did. I had given careful thought to the suede oxfords I donned that morning, but upon entry, the thick-pile shag carpeting under them had me feeling like I was about to be scolded. For anyone at this point still suffering from chauffeur separation anxiety, relax. You only have to ‘kind-of’ close the massive door yourself. Grasping for the handle that was now almost out of reach, I was quickly shown the button on the car’s upper front sill meant to keep me in my comfort zone.
Embarking from the chartered resort quickly validated what I had been thinking from the get-go of our morning introduction; the Wraith – while unmistakably a Rolls-Royce from any angle – looks absolutely foreign to anything else on the road. Even rolling past the Phantoms that first whisked us into the Scottsdale, Arizona locale, the coupé’s sweeping angles and aggressive stance would command complete attention void of any ornamentation or badging. The RR crest and Spirit of Ecstasy trophy are just icing on the proverbial cake. Be warned, people are going to stare. They’ll glance at you too, but don’t feel inadequate if the eye-contact is fleeting.
Approaching town limits, a seemingly endless ribbon of asphalt dared me to test my stamina. I was over the whole keeping my shoes on thing, and pinned the Wraith’s aluminum-trimmed pedal firmly to the floor. Though not expecting this ample-bodied Englishwoman to respond with the intensity of an Italian exotic, the 624 horses and 590 lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbo V-12 did deliver a solid gut-check when prodded. As cacti melted into mere green, peripheral streaks; my sensibilities were bested. Yet not for one second did I feel out of control. I won’t divulge the full extent of our fun, but if you do see this damsel in your future, I recommend having three things; a PBA card, an ample bank account, and a great lawyer. Being that I only possess one of the above, I wisely scaled back to legal limits of propulsion – which in turn felt like almost sitting still. Even under innocent driving intentions, the Wraith’s smooth power and cloudlike ride make it a potential ticket-trap. You’re best utilizing cruise when in uncharted territory.
This smooth, intuitive driving feel also made me rather curious to the car’s touted Satellite Aided Transmission. Rolls-Royce has begun implementing a GPS-enhanced drivetrain that ‘sees’ the road ahead, making optimally-placed shifts to augment your driving dynamic. As my route became more serpentine in nature, I paid close attention to the gearing through each twist and turn. My assessment; all I felt was confidence. And while that may come across as anti-climactic, it’s actually far from the sort. Make no mistake; while the Wraith is the sportiest offering in Rolls-Royce’s lineup, it is still a big, heavy automobile to be throwing into the curves with any sort of velocity. Fully expecting the restricting sensation of a computer-aided copilot, I instead exited each apex feeling confidently in control, and connected to the tarmac, not to mention the car itself.
If inspecting the Wraith – or listening to this fling – still leaves you feeling like something’s missing, perhaps we should hearken back to Sir Royce’s mantra of creation; for Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke Division boasts the creativity (and resources) of an entirely standalone business venture. Notable works by the subdivision have included integrated flasks (Ed. Note: Brit speak for thermos) and customized, portable picnic ensembles worthy of noble dining. Of course if you have to ask the price, this is not a department in which you need shop – though if your only concern is time, Rolls-Royce states that they aim to deliver every custom project – even the most extravagant – in under a 6-month timeframe.
Unfortunately, the tryst had to come to an end, for I’m just the reporter here. As my chauffeured Phantom whisked me back to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, I did my best to kick back and enjoy the unprecedented levels of refinement and comfort the back seat of a Rolls-Royce has to offer. Shoes once again matting the carpet, my rare moment of being catered to was rather enjoyable, though I couldn’t shake the feeling of clout I got being behind the Wraith’s wheel.
For those of you in the position to, I fully encourage you to cheat on your driver. This time I won’t say a thing.
Engine: Twin-Turbocharged Direct-Inject V-12
0-60: 4.4 Seconds Max Speed: 155mph (governed)
Max Power: 624hp @ 5,600 rpm
Max Torque: 590 lb-ft @ 1,500-5,500 rpm
Base Price: $284,900 USD + $2,000 destination fee
Photo Credit: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars