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New Rolls-Royce Spectre 2024 review: a peerless EV experience

The electric Rolls-Royce isn’t completely immune to horrible British road surfaces but it still sets the standard for EV elegance and luxury, just as you’d expect

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Verdict

UK roads don’t pull apart the Rolls-Royce Spectre’s dynamic qualities, but nor do they give it a free pass for some of the foibles we noted when we drove it abroad. It is beautifully finished and impressively refined, even given the expectations that go with the badge. But it’s not as big inside as its vast dimensions suggest, and the ride quality can be caught out by urban road scars – annoying for a vehicle designed for gliding up to events, rather than crossing continents. Still, there’s enough here of what a Rolls-Royce should be – and anything approaching what you’d call an obvious rival for this car, from Bentley or Range Rover, is still at least a year away.

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According to Rolls-Royce, there’s never been a model in the company’s history with the initial level of interest and orders to match the Spectre, the luxury marque’s first electric car. We were impressed enough with the car when we tried it in the United States last year – but now it’s time to see how it stacks up on UK roads.

And this is a potentially significant test, because if we had one gripe about the Rolls-Royce Spectre in California, it was that its suspension set-up never quite managed to make the body feel properly tied down. Britain’s notoriously awful road surfaces might well expose this even further.

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But first, a brief recap. The Spectre is an imposing all-electric two-door that measures not far off five and a half metres in length. There’s no denying that it’s colossal, and it looks heavy from some angles, although the subtle metallic-green paintjob of the car tested here does it a few favours in this regard. 

Beneath it all sits Rolls’s Architecture of Luxury, accommodating a 255bhp motor at the front and a 483bhp one at the rear, with a total system output of 577bhp and 900Nm of torque. This is a car whose weight is alarmingly close to three tonnes but instant electric shove means that 0-60mph takes less than 4.5 seconds.

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The usable battery capacity measures a whopping 102kWh, and Rolls-Royce says the car can travel up to 329 miles between charges – which can then happen at up to 195kW, if you’re unlucky enough to require a refill in a public space (goodness knows who you might have to interact with), instead of getting home to the charging point at your own country estate or lavish townhouse.

Climb aboard through the powered and frankly ludicrously impractical rear-hinged doors and there’s no denying that Rolls has nailed the Spectre’s cabin. Everything feels beautifully made and finished – from the metal surfaces you interact with to the sublime leathers and the wood on the dashboard (other looks are available, of course). There’s plenty of tech, with a sizeable touchscreen and a fully digital instrument panel, but it’s all integrated pretty neatly, so it looks reasonably natural even when it’s positioned beside the analogue clock in the fascia.

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Above you, meanwhile, is the Starlights headliner, mimicking the night sky and giving those in the rear seats a spectacular view. Our car just had it in the ceiling, but we’ve also tried the Spectre with this tech installed in the door linings (a first for this technology) and we’d recommend you consider ticking that box on the options list too, since it really makes the cabin feel more special at night, for all occupants.

The Architecture of Luxury brings air suspension as standard, along with four-wheel steering and active anti-roll bars, but even this technical arsenal is not quite enough to avoid a few foibles. The steering is well weighted and the brake-pedal modulation – that notoriously tricky transition between energy recuperation and regular discs and pads – is really nicely judged. The right-hand pedal needs a smooth approach but even then, the calibration is dedicated to sophisticated progress instead of anything so vulgar as rapid acceleration, and it generally works well.

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However, we still suspect that the ‘B’ mode, for greater energy recuperation and single-pedal driving, has too aggressive a step off when you lift your foot off the throttle. And while the ride can feel imperious at 60mph, there’s still a little too much coming through from whatever’s beneath the huge 23-inch wheels when you’re trying to glide gracefully around town at 30mph. We’d give up a little of the commendable body control for just a bit more low-speed waftability, and we wish single-pedal mode was easier to drive smoothly in.

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Refinement is pretty astonishing, at least; a Rolls should arrive and leave with the minimum of aural fuss and the Spectre sets new standards in this regard, with a near-total absence of electric-motor noise. There’s a bit of wind rush at higher speeds – thank the sizeable side mirrors and chunky A-pillars for that – but we’re not surprised to hear that at some point during the development process, Rolls engineers actually had to allow the car to generate a bit more noise, just to give some sensation of speed. It’d be pretty eerie otherwise.

This is not a bespoke EV platform, and sure enough, this brings some compromises in packaging. The bonnet is simply vast for a vehicle without a combustion engine, and as a result, there’s only a respectable amount of space for people in the cabin, particularly those in the rear seats. The boot, too, is 380 litres – a capacity trumped by the likes of a VW Golf – and 50 of those litres are underfloor storage that could end up being used to hold charging cables.

Model:Rolls-Royce Spectre
Price:From £330,000
Powertrain:2x e-motor, 102kWh battery (net)
Power/torque:577bhp/900Nm
Transmission:Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-60mph:4.4 seconds
Top speed:120mph (est)
Range:329 miles
Max charging:195kW (10-80% in 34 mins)
On sale:Now
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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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