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The Rolls Royce Wraith

Yacht Rock

Ahoy there, Captain!

For some, answering the call of the sea appears to be the pre-eminent motivation for their lives – lurkers of sailing club saloons, men who tie knots and who are never happier than when they are up to their elbows trying to unblock the head of a 32 foot Bavaria. Straw headed with a face like a screwed up spark plug wrapper, you will know them by their walk; the characteristic flat-footed, spread-toed, iron-calfed monkey waddle of a man who is either wearing a crushed pair of Sebagos or watching them recede with the dockside as he putters away under engine into the Solent. For them, the sea is a boundless metaphor for resourcefulness, struggle, suffering. They are, in short, one line short of a capstan.

But there is another variety of brine enthusiast. The kind of cove who might touch the wheel of his boat once in the two years that he owns it before upgrading by another 5 feet. These are the people that hire crew so that they may better enjoy the feeling of being twenty feet above the surface of the water as they watch the children of their friends exhort short-and-polo-clad girls named Georgia to haul jet boats out of in-hull garages for five minutes of fun. These are the people who equate the sea with ease, luxury, exoticism and the glory days of the Cunard Line – the Gucci habitués of Juan-les-Pins and Cannes.

There are no Blue Ribands for guessing which demographic this car is aiming to capture.

Titanic numbers

0 s
0-60 MPH
top speed (mph)
brake horsepower
Figures shown are for the Rolls Royce Wraith.

The Wraith is pitched squarely at the set of people for whom the The Great Gatsby is a guide to life rather than a cautionary tale.

Under the hatches

So what does all the talk of seafaring splendour mean when applied to the Rolls Royce Wraith, the Silver Lady’s latest and possibly greatest coupe offering? Well, if you’ve ever set foot on a ship or very large boat in relatively calm conditions, you’ll be familiar with the strange sense of cushioned isolation from the medium in which you’re travelling. You can see the waves, you can smell the spray and you can feel the wind but beyond that there is very little to give you a sense that you are moving – the floating edifice that surrounds you absorbs some of the impediments and simply obliterates others.

There’s something else; the quality of relentless stately motion that is synonymous with nautical travel. Where jagged surges of power are smoothed out whilst great thrust is being deployed. And in these two qualities, isolation and power, lies intoxication.

And this is the beating heart at the centre of the Wraith concept, the idea that you can have it all – ludicrous power, extreme refinement and giddy-headed enjoyment. But how is it achieved? Well for starters there’s the motor – a re-rigged version of the Ghost’s leviathan 6.6 lite twin turbo v12 that would be more at home in a dreadnaught than a car. It delivers a tsunami of 624 horses and makes the 0-60 sprint in 4.6 seconds, making this the fastest Rolls Royce available.

Put your foot down and feel something akin to the upwelling you might feel in a canoe being rammed from behind by a passive-aggressive monster from the deep. It truly is Moby Dick stuff. That is, if Moby Dick issued a crystal-cut but hurried formal greeting before head-butting you with all his might.

All that power would be senseless were it not properly tethered, and so it is. The Wraith makes use of the Ghost’s double wishbone front and multi-link rear with roll-cancelling air-suspension for stability and serenity. This is combined with an overhauled chassis that evokes the classic Rolls feel whilst injecting a sporting nimbleness into the mix. The effect is very much Gentleman’s Grand Tourer.

The tranquility continues as noise is pared down to a minimum through some incredibly accomplished bodywork in the form of hand-braised panels, 7000 spot welds and lasered seams throughout the car. A double-front bulk head means that only the most aggressive of driving provides much by way of sonic feedback.

Naturally, the interior is as insanely extravagant as you’d expect, with the starlight headliner and country-pile panelling in abundance. As per usual, the requisite amount of animals have sacrificed themselves willingly to say they are part of something so manically beautiful.

The verdict

The Wraith, like the Titanic, is nothing short of a masterpiece. It may well be a doomed monument to man’s folly but get behind the wheel and none of that matters. This is a call from when Britain ruled the waves. Answer it, because in these times, when our sense of nationality is crashing against the iceberg of modern reality, it’s reassuring to know that somewhere, in the dark, a band is playing on…