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Luxury Auto Guide: A Ghostly Wraith

Howard Walker

Rolls-Royce does spooky exceedingly well. Just the whisper of the word “Phantom” can send an icy shiver down the backs of any prospective buyer.
   Then again, that frosty chill is more likely to come from the prospect of penning a check for the Phantom’s $400,000 asking price.

Rolls-Royce - 2014 Wraith - luxury coupe - automotive review with Howard Walker  

   The spooky nomenclature continues with the latest Ghost sedan. With so many hauntingly badged models, maybe there should have been a Stephen King edition along the way.
   And now comes the Wraith, Rolls-Royce’s exquisite new two-door coupé, the most powerful and dynamic car in the company’s storied history.
   The Wraith name actually dates back to the late 1930s, when it was worn by a stately and upright Rolls with flowing fenders and huge standalone headlights. The definition of the word, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the exact likeness of a living person seen usually just before death as an apparition.”
   While this new Wraith is closely related to the Ghost sedan, its character is very different. Although you could never describe it as a sports car—at around 5,400 pounds, it’s too much of a porker for that—there’s an urgency and agility here that will surprise and delight the enthusiast driver.

Rolls-Royce Wraith - power and luxury ride

   From a design perspective, it’s also much more than simply a two-door version of the Ghost. There’s huge visual drama in the way the roof cascades down to the car’s rear bumper like an Aspen ski slope.
   The car is imposing but not exactly beautiful. There’s something a little awkward and ungainly about the angle of the rear window and the thickness of the rear roof pillars. Adding two-tone paintwork—a $7,750 addition to the car’s $284,900 base price—only seems to heighten the awkwardness.
   There are no complaints when you ease open one of those massive rear-hinged coach doors (never call them suicide doors) and slide into the driver’s seat. The cabin of this new Wraith simply defines magnificence.
   Take the woodwork. It’s a type of Brazilian rosewood; Rolls-Royce calls it Canadel after the house in the South of France where founder Henry Royce used to spend his winters. The grain of the veneer is actually canted rearwards at 55 degrees, giving an arrow-like effect that runs through the cabin. You have to see it to believe it.

Interior of the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith - starlit ceiling and luxury interior

   Make no mistake: The Wraith is an accommodating four-seater with plenty of legroom, kneeroom and headroom for those in the back. Those huge doors also make getting into the individual rear seats surprisingly easy.
   Once there, you’ll count the minutes until sundown. That’s when the driver can switch on the Wraith’s unique Starlight headlining. This $13,000 option features a perforated leather roof panel illuminated by 1,340 fiber optic lights that twinkle like a starry night sky.
   Because each of the fiber optics is hand-woven, no two Starlight roofs twinkle the same. The folks at Rolls-Royce are happy to tell stories of owners requesting a galaxy of stars to precisely reflect the night sky on the very day they were born.
   Chances are, however, drivers won’t have much time to gaze upwards at twinkling roofliners because they’ll be having way too much fun piloting this automotive powerhouse.

Interior of the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith - starlit ceiling and dash

   Under that pool-table-long hood resides a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 that can unleash an insane 624 hp, which is 61 hp more than in the Ghost. Pedal to the floor, the Wraith is capable of scything from standstill to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and not quitting until the speedo is kissing the 155 mph mark.
   For a car that tips the scales at around 2.7 tons, the Wraith feels devastatingly quick. But unlike every previous Rolls-Royce, it boasts of its performance credentials with a deep, barrel-chested soundtrack like the one heard at NASCAR.
   Although it is definitely not a sports coupe—the car is too big and heavy for that—it does feel remarkably nimble and light-footed through the curves, thanks to its laser-precise steering and stiffer suspension.
   A Rolls-Royce that’s a blast to drive? Now that’s very spooky.

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith - a look under the hood with a true luxury automobile

Power File:

Price: From $284,900

Engine: 6.6-liter turbo V-12

Max Power: 624 hp

Max Torque: 590 pound-feet

Transmission: 8-speed auto

0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds

Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)

Length/width: 207/76.5 inches

Weight: 5,380 pounds

Why we love it: Because it’s the most powerful, most dynamic and most fun to drive Rolls-Royce ever.

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