Rolls-Royce Wraith, motoring review: Excellent touch and silky skills for such a big player

 

PRICE From £235,000
ENGINE CAPACITY 6.6-litre V12
POWER OUTPUT (BHP @ RPM) 624 @ 5,600
TOP SPEED (MPH) 155
FUEL ECONOMY (MPG) 20.8
CO2 EMISSIONS (G/Km) 317

Once upon a time, Rolls-Royce would say only that its cars produced "sufficient" horsepower. A gentleman didn't require more and the firm didn't like to brag about speed. Now, though, most people who buy these beautifully crafted machines have first names such as Sheikh or Emir. And instead of Surrey lanes, they drive on near-empty desert roads with minimal speed enforcement. Things have changed.

The Goodwood-based firm has responded with the Rolls-Royce Wraith, which is special because unlike previous Rollers it has only three doors, boasts fastback coupé styling and, thanks to its vast 6.6-litre engine, will hit 60mph in just 4.4 seconds. This, then, is a Rolls-Royce to drive, not to be driven in.

Nonetheless, there is still the tricky question of how on earth I pass judgement on a 2,000kg hunk of power and luxury that costs more than your average home, is more comfortable than a palace, and emits enough CO2 to melt the Arctic when you indulge your right foot.

Well, I could focus on one or two luxurious details as extended metaphors for the sorts of people who might conceivably be able to buy one. For example, I could tell you how the thick shagpile carpet and wooden panelling feel more like the interior of an oligarch's corporate jet or private yacht than a car. Or I could riff on how the Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet ornament pops up and down at the touch of a button, like how a billionaire moves money around the globe.

Then there's the ride, which I could point out is pillowy-soft and makes bumps in the road disappear so effortlessly you wonder if a vast team from Rolls-Royce is secretly travelling ahead resurfacing the road with silk. It was certainly "sufficient" to act as a rather glam wedding car for my best friends when they got married last weekend. Though its rather, shall we say, dominant front end did look slightly out of place in the sleepy lanes of Suffolk. That's because most Wraiths end up in the Middle East – where, thankfully, the roads are wider.

Many will find the Wraith disgustingly opulent or a blot on the environment, but as I found this weekend, if you park it outside a hotel or wedding venue, there are plenty of people who will love it. The only problem is getting them to take pictures of the bride, not just this hunk of luxurious metal.

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