Rolls-Royce Wraith Aims Young
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Imagine flooring the pedal of your Salamanca Blue Rolls-Royce Wraith while zipping through the scorched and severe environs of Scottsdale, Ariz.
That's the intense reality I recently experienced, but as I hit 130 mph on a particularly narrow stretch of road, I had to marvel at the ride's smoothness. That's the intention here despite the 590 lb-ft of torque to achieve the "magic carpet ride" Rolls continuously promotes. No matter the power, it's not that hard to feel cushy with thick lambswool floormats by your feet (truth be told, I kicked off my Oxfords and drove discalced).
But don't expect drivers to open the suicide doors and head straight for the walker or cane. No, this is for a tech-savvy, monied whipper-snapper particularly in the U.S. (even if he wants mother of pearl inlays in his wood appliqués).
The Wraith, the newest V-12 coupé out of Goodwood, occupies a unique space in the ultra-luxury brand's repertoire, acting as much the part of sleek, sporty option within the arsenal of vehicles as it does an outreach mechanism to give Rolls a more youthful varnish.
"It's the gentleman's gran turismo," said Richard Carter, director of Global Communications at Rolls.
As a nod to the car's motorsports feel, the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament is tilted 4 degrees forward as if preparing for speed. The cars that come two-toned (Silver Sand, say, to pair with your Salamanca Blue) accentuate the fastback silhouette and give the contours some movement as light bends around them. There is something Mustangian about the way the C-pillar wraps around toward the roof. In fact the body design harkens back to the American muscle car heritage: blink, and you might be driving a baller '69 Pontiac GTO.
The Wraith's doors are puckered just so in an aerodynamic convex Rolls refers to as a "waft zone."Whereas other Rollses flaunted the pantheon grill, the Wraith features a grill with an extended bevel ledge and angled veins to mimic the apertures of jet engines.
The steering wheel is smaller in diameter with the rim thicker, more graspable to play up the quick steering dynamics. In fact, the whole interior makes for a luxurious but sporty cockpit feel, accentuated by the tactile experience of the Canadel paneling, fine-grained wood mirroring the forest that encircled the French country home of company co-founder Henry Royce.
The Evolution: Fountain of Youth
Rolls sold 3,575 cars in 2012, a banner year for the company, and the Wraith is all part of the company's trajectory to expand. Carter said the Wraith is a step toward dispelling the misconception that a Rolls is just "a big Cadillac with a bunch of leather and wood."