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BBC Autos

Rolls-Royce Wraith materialises in Geneva

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.

 

HIDE CAPTION

The arrival of a Rolls-Royce, be it at the country club or on the motor show stand, is always an occasion.

Doubly so when the Rolls-Royce in question is the most powerful model in the brand’s 109-year history. Debuting to fanfare in Geneva on 5 March, the rakish Wraith builds on the sporting nature of the marque’s Ghost sedan with more power, more  dynamism and a thoroughly new fastback profile.

Behind the Wraith’s recessed grille lurks a V12 engine producing a Promethean 624 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. That is sufficient to move the big roller to 60mph in a 4.4 seconds, the brand claims. (No slouch, the 563hp Ghost can make the sprint in 4.7 seconds.) The Wraith is awash in advanced technology, including the world’s first Satellite Aided Transmission. The system monitors GPS location data and current driving style, prompting the 8-speed ZF automatic box to pick the most appropriate gear for what lies ahead, be it hills, sweeping corners, roundabouts or the Monaco shoreline.

Per tradition, the Wraith wraps its fortunate occupants in opulence, including swaths of a light-toned wood veneer and what the brand calls “Phantom-grade leather”, referring to the buttery hides in the marque’s flagship model. Accessed through rear-hinged coach doors, the cabin accommodates four, and the two rear seats, despite the sweeping roofline, are surprisingly commodious. And, for those who desire a dose of Vegas glitz, the Wraith offers the previously Phantom-only Starlight Headliner, which creates a virtual night sky with 1,340 fibre-optic lamps woven into the fabric above the driver and passengers. The headliner is an $8,100 option on the Phantom, and will likely command a similar sum in the Wraith.

In Europe, where the Wraith goes on sale late this year, Rolls-Royce will relieve buyers of 245,000 euros for the privilege of ownership (roughly $330,000, plus tax). There was no word on a North American release date or pricing.

Journalists in Geneva were making comparisons with the Bentley Continental GT, the voluptuous grand tourer from the Rolls-Royce’s former sister brand. Indeed, there are similarities on several fronts – performance and British pedigree, primarily. But with a starting price roughly $100,000 higher than that of the Continental GT, the Wraith is one of those truly rare automobiles that exist in a class of one.

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