Motoring: pounds 155,000 (with picnic table)

Readers get behind the wheel to report on a new car. First in the series, the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph. By Michael Booth

Let's clear up this "Best Car In The World"

nonsense once and for all. There are, of course, plenty of faster, leaner, and more beautiful saloons than the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph, a couple that are also better made, and many that don't corner like a big blancmange. But having just spent a weekend swanning around in Crewe's finest, they seem to me mere transport in comparison to this beautiful behemoth.

Rolls-Royces change roughly as often as the old Soviet administrations, but with a radical, rounded body (hints of the Silver Cloud), an all-new, BMW-designed V12 engine, and the traditional swathes of wood and leather, I would guess that, in product terms, they are on to a winner with the Seraph. As for justifying the pounds 155,000 price tag, well, that's where the unquantifiable Rolls-Royce magic comes in to it. (Although who knows what will happen to the magic a few years down the line when, for various convoluted reasons, Volkswagen, despite now owning the car company, will cede to BMW the right to use the Rolls-Royce name.)

The first morning spent with our testers in and around Battersea Park was a hoot, but what surprised me was how each new driver felt at ease piloting this barge in London traffic. Steering that requires just a finger (to leave others free for gesturing at the plebs, I presume), and buckets of horsepower for gliding through gaps, assists the Rolls greatly, as does the Range Rover-high visibility.

Naturally, family and friends - and just about anyone who'd ever met me - received visits. My mother claimed that someone saluted as we drove by. Later, I went to a McDonald's drive-through with friends and became briefly and embarrassingly stuck in its narrow path. I then suggested we all take our clothes off and go for a ride - supposedly the ultimate way to enjoy a Roller - but there were no takers.

I must have spent hours ogling the car from all angles, chuckling to myself as I found yet another gizmo (the self-closing boot!), evidence of the meticulous hand of a technician (the light greasing of the sliding walnut cover on the vanity mirrors), the picnic tables, or a delightful design touch such as the chrome embellishment to the wing mirrors. Eleven miles to the gallon should ensure plenty of time for contemplation at the pumps.

The Seraph's obscene luxury (at idle, the only sound is the bewilderingly sophisticated air-conditioning and, on the move, the leather creaking like a sailing ship), makes it the perfect car for traffic jams, while at speed, its ultra-absorbent suspension (quality control by the Princess and the Pea) soaks up sleeping policemen without a murmur. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about this car for me was that at 130mph (on private land) I was flying with an ease and grace that, in a straight line at least, no Lamborghini, Ferrari or Aston Martin of my acquaintance could match. And that velvet power is addictive like no drug I've tried. As far as I'm concerned, the silver statue isn't a Spirit of Ecstasy, it's Tinkerbell, and that's magic dust she sprinkles

The verdict If you would like to take part in a test drive, write to The Independent Magazine, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, giving a contact phone number, your address and details of the type of vehicle, if any, you currently drive. Participants must be over 26 and have a clean driving licence.

Sarah West: 27, from Chelsea, London Helps run a photographic agency

"It's like a palace on wheels!" sighed Sarah. "But I imagine it's much more of a man's car than a woman's ... is that a bad thing to say?" The purple leather trim was deemed "a bit nouveau", but aside from that minor gripe, Sarah gave the Roller the biggest endorsement of the day. "I can't find a fault. I think it's absolutely gorgeous. I wouldn't mind if some nice young man came to pick me up in this. And I love the heated seats. They're not going to mass-produce them now or anything ghastly like that are they?"

John Hitchcox: 36, from Maida Vale, London

Co-founder and MD of the Manhattan Loft Corporation

"My problem is that I don't think my ego's big enough for this car," was John's initial reaction. "It's a little too staid, I'm not quite old enough for it yet, it's so un-me. Personally, I think Rolls are struggling a little bit nowadays because the kind of fearful CJ-type who used to own them doesn't exist so much in the Nineties. A Rolls doesn't appeal to the new entrepreneurs." John expressed reservations about the forest of wood inside the car, but praised the ride, the delicious "ssshlunk" of the doors, and the fact that the purple leather trim matched his shirt.

Laura Wenham: 30, from Wokingham. Dental nurse

Though dedicated to Minis to an almost certifiable degree, and despite the fact that she'd never sat in a Rolls before, of all our testers Laura (left in picture) was probably the most at ease behind the wheel. "You know that it's a heavy car, even though the steering is very light," she said. "It does drive so beautifully and smoothly. Obviously, there's no comparison with my Mini, though. A Mini has personality." "I like the deep carpets," commented Sharon, her friend and team-mate in the annual Italian Job Mini jamboree to northern Italy. "Yes, but you could put carpet like that in any car," sniffed Laura. "I wouldn't buy one, they're not very practical, a bit too big."

David Osborne: 64, from Middlesex

Branch secretary of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club

As a life-long fan and current owner of a Rolls, David had already formed an opinion of the styling: "A Bentley grille would suit the rounded shape more. I'm not 100 per cent certain it looks quite right as a Rolls." He also felt that having a BMW engine was "a bit disappointing", and spotted cost-cutting in the rubber door seals. But once on the move David was transported into a Rolls reverie: "Lovely. It's definitely smoother than the old ones, the seats are nice and firm, but the brakes are softer, though you know they're still there."

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sales Representative, Birmingham

    £25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

    C# .NET Developer (SQL, ASP.NET, JS, MVC) London - Finance

    £50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Develo...

    Marketing & Commnunications Executive, London

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly successful organisat...

    C# .NET Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript HTML, CSS) Finance

    £60000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Develo...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment