Review: Rolls-Royce Wraith (2013)

Rating:

Imperious luxury and exclusivity along with immense performance. Actually more economical on paper than a Bentley Continental GT Speed.

As expensive as you'd expect.

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Rolls-Royce Wraith (2013): At A Glance

It would be very easy to get caught up in the superlatives of the Rolls-Royce Wraith. After all, here’s a car where the average price easily tops £250,000 with a few extras thrown into the mix and has a twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 engine under its aristocratic prow.

Yet, strip away the initial awe of driving this considerably-sized coupe and what you’re left with is something even more impressive. As well as being the car that has extended the Rolls-Royce range well beyond the Phantom limousine and Ghost saloon, it’s paved the way for the Dawn convertible and helped lower the average buyer age by 10 years.

That’s significant because it means more sales, though the British firm is happy to keep that number in the single digit thousands for the sake of exclusivity.

Beyond its trail-blazing, the Wraith is based on much the same platform as the Ghost, which itself is related to the BMW 7 Series. Some may turn their nose up at this link, but the truth is, it’s a great base for any car that aspires to supreme comfort and dynamics. And here lies the substance to back up all of the hyperbole that can build up around cars such as the Wraith.

Now all of that’s dealt with, it only leaves the vulgar question of cost. Anyone in the market for a Wraith is not going to blanche at the asking price or how much their preferred options and additions will put on the final tally.

As for 20.2mpg and 327g/km CO2, these figures are better than a Bentley Continental GT Speed’s so you could argue the Rolls is more frugal than it’s only real rival.

Even so, the Wraith occupies a niche all its own as a luxury grand tourer that has very rapid performance and fine handling almost as by-products of its design. This is not to undermine the abilities of the car or the team who designed it, but simply to acknowledge this is about as sporting as Rolls-Royce gets or needs to be.

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Rolls-Royce Wraith (2013): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 5268–5269 mm
Width 2064 mm
Height 1506–1507 mm
Wheelbase -

Full specifications

Taking a seat in the Wraith sees you slide into the driver’s chair instead of dropping down. This is a big car, after all, and there’s good forward and side vision. However, the fastback styling means over the shoulder sight isn’t great, so you need to scrutinise the mirrors closely when changing lane. At least for parking, there’s an optional rear-view camera.

As for the rest of the driver’s environment, it’s fuss-free and easy to get familiar with. The speedo is clear and the ‘Power Reserve’ dial in place of a rev counter adds to the occasion. In the centre console, the infotainment screen is worked by a rotary control that will be instantly recognisable to anyone used to BMW’s iDrive system.

In the back, there are two individual seats that are just as sumptuously upholstered as the front pair. Despite the sloping roof line, head room is fine for adults, but the slender side windows create a slightly enclosed feeling.

However, it’s easy to contemplate heading away for a week four-up thanks to the 470-litre boot capacity. The rear suspension dictates the load floor is narrower than some large coupes’, but it’s deep and long, so stacking cases is straightforward.

Child seats that fit a Rolls-Royce Wraith (2013)

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What's the Rolls-Royce Wraith (2013) like to drive?

Of course you’d expect a Rolls to carry you along any road with no perceptible sensation of how bad the road surface is from the cabin. The Wraith does this thanks to its double wishbone front end and multi-link rear with pneumatic cushions in place of steel springs. Even at low speeds where this type of set-up can be wrong-footed by sudden interruptions, there’s no perceptible jiggle or jolt.

Increase the pace and the Wraith continues with its smoochily smooth charms. The ride remains as calm and cosseting as you’d hope for a car with this sort of price tag, yet it’s also blessed with a control and composure that comes as a surprise at first.

A car weighing in at two and quarter tonnes is not usually able to corner with little roll and claw-like grip, yet the Wraith can be hustled in a manner that gives more overtly sporting machines a run for their money. Okay, it’s not going to cut it on a track day and nor will it ever be the first choice for die-hard sports car fans as the steering is geared towards comfort rather than racing, but this is a car that has more than sufficient sporting ability to let you enjoy it when the opportunity arises.

Backing up this ability is performance that can see the Rolls-Royce breach 62mph from rest in 4.6 seconds and head on to an electronically capped 155mph. Perhaps more pertinent is the ‘Low’ button on the gear selector. It doesn’t lock the gearbox into a lower ratio, but instead lets the transmission hold on to revs for longer before changing up. It gives the car a greater urgency and response to the driver’s right foot, which again makes this a far more engaging car to drive than most other luxury coupes.

You won’t hear much of that big V12 engine, though, as the car is swathed in sound deadening material. This is a bit of a disappointment when you plant your foot hard into the lambs wool rug, but changes through the eight-speed auto gearbox as extremely smooth so you soon need to back off to avoid licence-losing speeds.

All of this is combined with that innate Rolls-Royce ability to shut out the hubbub of the world when the rear-hinged ‘coach door’ soft closes at the touch of a button. Double-glazed side windows help, as do the clean lines of the Wraith that generate very little by way of wind noise.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
6.6 19–20 mpg 4.5–4.6 s 327 g/km