When it comes to the epitome of luxury in motors cars, there are but a few makes that have the engineering, expertise and creative clout to create a golden standard. The best of the best? The new Rolls-Royce Company's latest model: The 2014 Wraith.
After its official unveiling this spring in Geneva, our preview of Rolls’ most powerful production vehicle described the car as “visceral...most definitely a powerful presence.” Now behind the wheel of a black and crimson two-tone model just North of Scottsdale, Arizona, we’d like to add: It's absolutely bloody fast.
Powered by a 624-horsepower V12 engine mated to an automatic eight-speed transmission, the Wraith accelerates out of our desert oasis and onto the back roads leading north toward the Grand Canyon’s southern rim. The route we’re heading down is not unlike the dips and turns of the northern mountains of Spain where we test drove the Jag F-Type, but without the endless evergreens softening the landscape. Instead, our 590 pound-feet of torque drives around guardrails laced with cacti almost longer than the 17-plus foot Wraith, and every bit as fierce.
Despite what would seem to be the challenge in gears and overcompensation on this terrain, the Wraith’s satellite transmission link proves to be a blessing as the vehicle automatically prepares and optimizes its gear ratios for the road being plotted out in front of it.
While one would think that automatic gear-switching could take the auditory fun out of the experience, we can attest that during full-speed acceleration spurts, the vehicle’s brute character comes out in full force. An epic takeaway towards that 155 mph limited top speed, to which we will not confirm how close we came.
Passing over the Theodore Roosevelt Dam at sunset, the empty road feels like a personal freeway. The Wraith's suspension is unparalleled (except when compared to others of the same brand), and the vehicle's handling is equally impressive, especially for a car of this size.
The Wraith’s fastback conversation from the four-seat Ghost took us by surprise in Geneva – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Rolls-Royce, since its reintroduction by the BMW Group in 2003, has defined uncompromising luxury and bespoke customization. Be this as it may, the line, from Phantom to Ghost and their respective sub-models, couldn't be considered sporty.
While we are inclined to label this vehicle as not only the fastest, but the most sporty RR ever, we think that would do it a disservice, so we'll compromise by calling it agile instead. A worthy descriptor for an eerily sinister vehicle that is capable, terrifying and mighty eye-catching, to boot.
The interior of the vehicle, however, is where the Goodwood, England brand really shines. Considering a Rolls can be customized with an array of raw exotic woods and handcrafted leathers and tricked out in "any color visible to the human eye," as designer Alex Innes tells us during a seminar, the options are absolutely limitless for your in-car experience.
For those willing to go the extra mile, the good men and women at Rolls will also bring to life any major accessories or vehicle modifications you happen to dream up. From a $30K Phantom Drophead Coupe (a personal favorite) matched picnic set, telescopic carbon-fiber hiking gear, or flasks built into the driver and passenger doors, innovation and imagination are but a part of the total experience of driving and owning one of these fine motor cars.
The base price of a Wraith hovers around $284,000 without gas or destination charges; however, our gorgeous behemoth with lambswool floor mats sat around $360,000. All in all, the Wraith exceptionally deserves of the title of a Playboy ride, and we’re confident Hef himself would be inclined to agree.
Now available in the U.S. For more information visit www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com.