Unless my dog strikes oil burrowing in the garden, it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to afford a Wraith. However, if I’m honest, I’m not sure it’s really the car for me!
This is a vehicle that belongs to the chairman of the board and retired City types. I’m 51 and would probably spend my £234,000 on buying a gull-wing Mercedes and driving it across Europe, endlessly.
It is also quintessentially British (despite the German owners), which might explain why so many Rollers end up in the Middle east, US and Russia. The Wraith is just too big for UK roads and needs more room to roam.
So does that mean the Wraith is just an expression of wealth and social standing? Possibly. It could hardly be described as practical at this price. However, a world without Rolls-Royce would be a less beautiful place and no other luxury limo comes close…
The arrival of British autumn always leads to some shenanigans on the road. This morning I drove past a Mercedes E-class which had slipped off a leafy corner and was on it’s roof. Cars never look as pretty upside-down.
At least in a Rolls-Royce you can be sure to keep your dignity intact if the worst happens. The Wraith has centre wheels caps that are weighted, so you will never see the ‘RR’ logo upside-down. Brilliant.
And the days of stealing the Spirit of Ecstasy figure off the front grille are long gone too. Fiddle around with the chrome Spirit and she automatically lowers into the bodywork. It can also be lowered before you park up.
You can pay around £5k for a gold-plated version – or there’s another option for an LED light at the base. How times have changed… Somehow I can’t imagine even the Queen wanting such blingness.
Some might say that Rolls’ first fastback is a coupe that has been a tad over-engineered. Apart from rambling on about the ‘suicide doors’ (they are rear-hinged) and hidden umbrellas, I keep finding features which I do wonder are quite what one would expect in a Roller.
The night vision feature is an example. The centre sat nav display can be switched to infrared night vision that identifies potential hazards more than 200 yards ahead. They show up as a white blurs, rather like a cine-film in the negative.
It is sure to entertain your passengers on a long night trip but I can’t help but think this smacks of gimmick. And besides, you have to take your eyes off the road to study it properly and that can’t be good.
Our test car didn’t have the ‘star light’ roof lining, which brightens up the interior with a star-spangled top. But it did boast the inch-thich, lambs wool floor mats that are a bugger to clean.
Am I being picky? It just seems like the Wraith is something of a luxurious fairground ride with too much going on. Sure, it’s a class car but I think I can do without all the extras that I’m unlikely to ever need.
James Bond had machine guns fitted to his Aston Martin, wealthy people in South Africa arm their motors with flame throwers for extra protection. So what does the Wraith come equipped with? Umbrellas, of course.
Yes, it’s just what every English gentleman should carry when skies turn grey. But what makes the Wraith brollies special is where they are stored in the car.
The chrome-plated handles are embossed with the Rolls logo and slot neatly into the bulkhead. They are only visible when the rear-hinged doors are open, press a button and they pop out to meet you.
It’s quite bizarre that for all the luxurious features fitted to the Wraith, it’s the umbrellas which have proved the most entertaining for passengers. We’ll talk about the night vision and retractable Spirit of Ecstasy tomorrow…
There was a moment yesterday, driving the Wraith around Trafalgar Square, surrounded by red buses and listening to Desert Island Discs, that I’ve never felt more British.
There may be a German V12 engine at the heart of Rolls-Royce these days, but is there a more ‘British’ car I wonder?
The air of serenity inside the cockpit of the Wraith demands you switch from Radio 2 to Classic FM immediately, then set the slightly complicated heater fans to ‘soft’ and just soak up the atmosphere.
No need to press the 6.6-litre engine too hard, it’s gulping fuel at an alarming rate already. The Wraith isn’t a sports coupe by any measure – the ride is sublimely comfortable, like an armchair floating on air.
It’s a car built for Mr Bridger in the Italian Job, except you don’t need to be Noel Coward to appreciate it…
I must admit to a little curtain twitching this morning. I woke early to walk the hound, breakfasted on porridge and then sat anxiously waiting for the sight of a large British motor car pulling up the lane.
The Wraith then snuck into the driveway aboard a large but inconspicuous lorry. A load of farm machinery, a delivery of wood? No, it’s a Rolls-Royce.
I tried to imagine what it would actually be like waiting for delivery of one’s own Roller. I suppose if you can afford £230k then it’s probably like signing for a very large delivery from Waitrose. Except Rolls generally get the product being delivered correct.
And now I’m sat in it. Cossetted in leather, wood and the smell of richness. I’m off to London to meet the Queen. Well, OK, a business colleague but it’s going to be interesting. I know the Wraith will be the last word in luxury but how will other motorists react? That’s what intrigues me most…