Let's get something straight. The Rolls-Royce Wraith is the fastest, most powerful car Rolls-Royce has ever built, but that doesn’t mean that the four-door Ghost has been transformed into a sports car. Instead, the brand describes the new fastback coupe as its ‘Super GT’, so it retains all the traditional luxury trappings, but more power and style than ever before to help attract a completely new – and younger – breed of customer.
The enormous twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 engine has been stoked to push its total power output up to 624bhp. That means this 2.4 tonne limousine will crack 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds, almost as fast as the considerably smaller (and 4WD) Bentley Continental GT.
However, thankfully none of the Rolls-Royce serene character has been lost. The Wraith is incredibly quiet at the sort of speeds normal cars start to become ragged. That engine is whisper-quiet at cruising speeds, but it builds into a distant rumble, then a full-blown roar if you keep your foot planted deep into the thick lambs wool carpet.
Yet the steering is fingertip light at low speeds. In fact, if you put more than half a turn of lock on the expansive wheel then the column suddenly goes light in your hands as the huge nose sweeps round in an unexpectedly swift manner. It weighs up at speed but the big variation in resistance does take some getting used to – so it takes a little while to build up enough confidence to really press on.
When you do though the result is effortless progress. The suspension does pitch and roll under heavy braking and acceleration but the Wraith also feels just as planted and stable as any of its four-wheel drive competitors. The eight-speed gearbox adjusts the spread of ratios according to the terrain (via the sat-nav) but there is such an enormous wave of torque from the engine that it charges forward no matter what gear you find yourself in.
The designers have done an excellent job of increasing the visual clout of the Wraith to match the newfound level of performance. The stunning coach doors open backwards to expose a lavish interior covered in expensive wood veneers, chrome and plush leather.
The thick handles extend into the front wing to help give it sleeker proportions and the low-slung fastback roof and striking two-tone paint work all do a fine job of making this an entirely more extrovert Rolls-Royce. A wider variety of wheel designs and colour combinations are all designed to allow buyers to tailor the car to their own personal tastes – with the Bespoke department able to cater for almost any styling request.
However despite the racier looks there is still an excellent amount of room in the back. The Wraith really is a proper Grand Tourer in that regard. It feels cosy in the back but there is still plenty of space for passengers and 470-litres of their designer luggage too.
Even the visibility is decent – which is especially helpful when the car is still nearly two metres wide and over five metres long. Although on smaller roads you are always aware of the car’s vast size, and it’s this -rather than any lack of dynamic ability- that prevents you from utilising the engine’s mighty power reserves more often.