As I sit uncomfortably on seats made of stretched, worn, dirty plastic on the commuter rail heading back to NYC, I daydream (if it’s after dark, is it nightdreaming?) about how I would give anything to be in the back of the 2015 Rolls-Royce Wraith getting carted around with seats that welcome manspreading. With lambswool carpets plusher than a Four Seasons’s fleece blanket, massaging front buckets, and exotic woods from some far off land, it’s amazing the type of person you wish to become once you’re swaddled in comfort beyond your wildest dreams.
Though the dream might be wild (like, extremely out there) for enthusiasts like me, Rolls-Royce is rolling around jovially with the best sales record in their 101 year history, as 2014 was a stellar year for the Goodwood crew—over 4,000 pieces of iconic luxury rolled out of dealerships and into the upper echelon of luxury motoring.
But it’s not all about sales; the brand has captured the luxury market like no other. When you think of luxury, you dream of Rolls-Royce. The Wraith is the answer to the buyer who wants a car that can be used for navigating the world’s cities while deals are done in backseats, but in a juxtaposed mindset, the Wraith still affords the Sunday driver the ability for some proper (front) seat time.
Far ahead of the driver’s seat is the unmistakable Spirit of Ecstasy badge—also creating spectacular theatre when the car comes to life by revealing itself from under the hood—adorning itself above the massive BMW-sourced 6.6-liter V12 that’s been massaged and beautified by RR. Instant torque and copious horsepower mean that this behemoth will gladly get out of its own way without much effort. The engine responds so smoothly that it tricks your mind into negating how much physical size there actually is all around you. The fact a car can go to zero-to-sixty in 4.4 seconds while weighing 5,300-plus pounds is what makes the Wraith a spirit to believe in.
For all of the Wraith’s bulk on the exterior, the majority of the big feel is on the inside. Opening the suicide doors is about as substantial as pulling the covers off a next-generation concept car. They’re huge, too. Thankfully there’s a button to close the door from the A-pillar. Or, as Rolls-Royce calls them, “electronically regulated coach doors with power closing assistance.” Oh, behave!
Once inside, surfaces and texture play a major part of feeling like you’re in a RR. Huge swathes of beautifully lacquered wood wraps around the cabin, making the metaphor “land yacht” feel appropriate. Though there is a certain cap to how many options are available in the RR catalog, if you have the money, time, and clout of a preferred buyer, Rolls will fabricate anything in your wildest dreams—they’re serious about bespoke.
One thing about a Rolls that makes it seem worth the exorbitant price is the switchgear...in fact, every button, knob, and switch. Just rolling up the window feels like you’re accomplishing something important. It has the same pressure and authority of firing a gun. If we could shake the man’s hand who (most likely) hand-built the chrome polished switches, we’d be honored. We do, of course, recommend getting the hand-sewn, fiber optic, star-filled headliner with 1,340 lights illuminating your own personal galaxy. The sunroof, while great, doesn’t actually open. So if you’re going to stare at something, get the star liner. Plus, what’s a cooler conversation piece?
You won’t go far without catching the idle stares of countless people questioning who you are. Even the most clueless car person knows the mystique of the Spirit adorning the hood. Rolls-Royce affords an air of mystery surrounding the brand. You could be of Saudi royalty or self-made, but until those big, beautiful suicide doors open, you’re an apparition of appearance—a wraith of secrecy.
It’s why the Wraith is almost the perfect mix of luxury and just enough automobile to get a rise out of your inner driver. (That is when you’re not being driven around.) The settings with the double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension mixed with RR’s self-leveling air springs, 8-speed transmission, and wide wheelbase offer a mix of comfort and acceptable handling feel. Yes, the typical Rolls “magic carpet ride” feel is there, and you won’t be mistaking this for an M3 (though, it’s almost as fast in a straight line). Nut you’re also not going to fling it off the road like a ’70 Eldorado. It’s enough to where if you wanted to go out one day for a drive, you wouldn’t have to skip over the Wraith. From the Ritz to the roads of the reservoir, the Wraith can handle both with ease.
Spend some time in the Wraith, and you'll adjust to the lifestyle very quickly. It’s the way it encapsulates you in a cocoon of posh luxury that just doesn’t exist in other automobiles. It’s the black tie event in City Hall and it’s the Jay-Z concert in Brooklyn; it’s cool, chic, tasteful, and full of life—an energetic force of spiritedness. The time you spend in a Rolls-Royce Wraith doesn’t feel like time at all…it feels like an event of timelessness.
Efficiency: 13/21/15 mpg (city/highway/combined)
0-60 MPH: 4.4 seconds
Top Speed: 186 mph (est)
Horsepower: 624 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 590 lb-ft @ 1,500-5,000 rpm
Cost: $284,900 (base)/ $357,600 (as tested)
Scout Rating: If you have to ask…
Photographs by Michael Crenshaw