More than anything else on the road, driving (or being driven in) a Rolls-Royce says something. Sure, a Corsa Rossa (loose translation: arrest-me red) Ferrari or highlighter green Lamborghini says something about its driver too, but it usually isn’t anything you’d want to say to their face. A Rolls on the other hand commands respect. It isn’t a six-figure toy for the rich; it’s big and imperious, just like its owner’s social status — or at the very least, their bank account.
We recently spent a few days in England being chauffeured to and from press events in a number of models, but got to spend the most time in the Wraith, Rolls’s elegantly sporty fastback coupe. Unsurprisingly, the Wraith left an impression on us; we called it “… a spectacle in itself, albeit a tasteful one,” and were wowed by its power, presence, and opulent interior. There wasn’t much not to like about the car, but after spending time in one, it certainly isn’t for everybody. For most automakers, this could be a problem, but for Rolls-Royce, it’s probably for the best. Rolls builds special cars, and they’re meant to stay that way. And out of all of them, the Wraith stands out as our favorite.
Here’s who should buy the Wraith
The Wraith is arguably the sportiest Rolls ever put into production. What that really means is that most Wraith owners drive their own cars while Ghost and Phantom owners don’t; that said, there’s plenty of go here. It also seats four regular sized adults in the finest luxury and, despite its fastback roof, leaves little if anything to be desired in terms of interior space.
You could almost argue that the Wraith is something of an entry-level model. Not that it’s any more attainable or cheapens the brand in any way — it doesn’t at all — but it’s a Rolls that appeals to younger members of society’s elite. It’s for the millionaire who sees themselves more as Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair than a baron of industry being chauffeured in a long-wheelbase Phantom. It’s powerful, it’s good-looking, and it conveys good taste better than virtually anything else on the road.
Like every Rolls that came before it, the Wraith commands respect; it’s noticed by almost everyone else on the road, making its presence one of its commanding features. It doesn’t scream “Look at me!” but it’ll also turn heads. The Wraith is for the comfortable, confident millionaire (or billionaire) who wants something that blends traditional old world luxury with cutting-edge technology and world-class performance.
Here’s who shouldn’t buy one
Congratulations! You’ve just been signed to a multimillion dollar deal by the New York Yankees as a Centerfielder with a cannon for an arm, and who seemingly doesn’t know how to strike out (Good. God knows they need your help). Running out and buying a Rolls sounds like the best way to show the world that you’ve finally made it, Right?
Wrong. Despite a $300K starting point, there’s no such thing as a base-model Rolls. Wraiths are hand-built, and virtually every aesthetic choice is left up to the customer. Want to ditch the hand-laid Canadel wood interior for carbon fiber? Fine. Have a specific color in mind that doesn’t match up with the 44,000 Rolls already offers? The company will make it happen. Want to — shudder — have all the chrome trim replaced with gold, just like in grandma’s ’87 Cadillac Coupe de Ville? The company will even do that for you.
This process doesn’t come cheap, or quick. Most customers work closely with the factory in Goodwood, England in a collaborative process that is unlike anything else in the automotive industry. New Wraith buyers can expect to wait at least six months before they take delivery of their car, though a year it isn’t unheard of either.
And while the Wraith is undeniably sexy, it isn’t in an in-your-face way like a Ferrari or Lambo. Of course, comparing England’s finest with supercars is usually an apples-to-oranges situation, but at the end of the day, both convey wealth and power in a similar way. The Wraith has a 624-horse twin-turbo V12 underhood, a gorgeous fastback body, and can make the zero to 60 scramble in 4.3 seconds. That said, it’s a Rolls-Royce first; it’s more traditional, luxurious, and comfort-focused than virtually anything else at its price point. For the Miami Beach set looking to cruise the boulevards for girls and still act like an idiot at stoplights, the Wraith, probably, thankfully, isn’t the status symbol for you.
Rolls-Royce has always embodied taste, tradition, and a degree of discretion, and these three traits are as apparent as ever in the Wraith — remarkable for a car that can hold its own on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. For buyers looking to embrace tradition, but who don’t want another driver to have all the fun, the Wraith is your Rolls. For people who like to refer to themselves as “classy,” and want to telegraph their bank balance to the world right now, you might want to look elsewhere.