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The 2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith deftly blends modern technology with traditional craftsmanship in a stylish coupe that makes no excuses for its lavish excess. All of this performance and luxury doesn’t come cheaply, though: Options can easily add tens of thousands of dollars to a base price of around $300,000.
Just over a decade ago designer Marek Djordjevic established a new design vocabulary for Rolls-Royce, and the Wraith shares its elegantly muscular look with stablemates such as the Ghost sedan and forthcoming Dawn convertible. It’s defined by rectangular headlights on either side of a simple-but-bold grille, slab sides, and a bluff, neatly sculpted tail. The design lends itself to the two-tone paint schemes used by Rolls-Royce for most of its history. There isn’t much precedent, however, for the Wraith’s fastback styling—sportier coachwork usually graced Bentleys—but the retro-inspired slope looks good from most angles.
Rear-hinged doors (Rolls-Royce understandably calls these “coach” rather than “suicide”) also give a nod to the past, but add the functional purpose of aiding more dignified entry and exit. While the Wraith’s length stretches past 17 feet, excellent proportions mask its actual size.
Rolls-Royce has always turned out top-notch interiors, and the Wraith doesn’t disappoint. Rich, soft leather, finely crafted woods, and machined metal trim elements surround occupants in all four seats. Buyers who are willing to wait for a special order can ask for almost anything, even if it’s not on an option list that already includes plenty of outré features like a fiber-optic light system that mimics a star-filled night sky. Those who prefer to gaze at the real stars may specific a fixed glass roof with a leather sun blind.
Like the Ghost, the Wraith is built on a variant of the BMW 7-Series platform, but this relationship won’t be apparent to most drivers or observers. A 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 rated at 624 horsepower propels all 5,203 pounds of the Wraith to 60 mph in a swift 4.4 seconds, according to Rolls-Royce. (This makes it a few ticks quicker than the Ghost.) And a Wraith will charge all the way up to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. An innovative ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission uses GPS and terrain data to pre-select ideal gears for smoother performance through sharp turns, hills, and dales. Twenty-inch wheels are standard, while 21-inchers are optional. A stately ride quality is as much a Rolls-Royce trait as the Spirit of Ecstasy on the car’s bonnet, and it’s achieved in the Wraith with an electronically controlled air suspension. This all contributes to the dynamic “waftability” that Rolls-Royce wants to achieve in its cars.
It’s more fuel-efficient than the larger Phantom Coupé, but the Wraith can’t escape its significant avoirdupois or massively potent engine. The EPA estimates gas mileage at 13 mpg city, 21 highway, 15 combined.
Crash safety is untested, but here, the mass of the Wraith works in its favor, as does Rolls-Royce’s very solid construction and inclusion of standard safety equipment like force-limiting seat belts, smart airbags that adjust to occupant size, and the Advanced Crash Management system, which uses sensors within the car to take 2,000 measurements per second, and, in the event of an accident, to deploy the appropriate pre-emptive safety measures.
As always, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
For more, see Motor Authority’s first drive of the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith.
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