Set Your Spirit Free With The New Rolls-Royce Wraith
by Lisa Travell
October 08, 2013
Rolls-Royce has always embodied elegance and epitomized style and sophistication. With this brand luxury is expected, elegance and reliability a given, but sheer power has always taken a back seat to finesse, until now. The new Rolls-Royce Wraith combines a new bold design that retains refinement, but unleashes a power never before housed beneath the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy figurine.
Amid much excitement and anticipation, the Rolls-Royce Wraith was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and it did not disappoint. Today’s Outlook recently had the chance to partake in the ‘Rolls-Royce experience’ with a luxury trip to Vienna that culminated in test-driving the most dynamic and powerful Rolls-Royce ever.
Off To Vienna!
Flying business class on Qatar Airways is always a pleasure, especially with the new premium terminal in Doha. We arrived in Vienna refreshed and ready to glimpse the Rolls-Royce lifestyle, which began with a chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce Ghost arriving to ferry us to the luxurious Palais Coburg Residenz.
Seeped in history the five-star superior Palais Coburg is located in the center of Vienna. Built in the 1840s, it sits atop foundations from the sixteenth century and houses 35 luxury suites. Each suite is unique and caters to all tastes, from the classic ‘Imperial’ to the contemporary ‘Modern’. All feature separate living and sleeping areas, fully equipped kitchens and luxurious bathrooms, some with whirlpool baths and saunas. If you can bear to leave your sumptuous suite an oasis of relaxation awaits you in the spa, with an indoor pool, steam bath, Jacuzzi, sauna and sun terrace at your disposal. You can also book a variety of beauty treatments and massages.
Below the splendid suites sits a veritable treasure trove. The cellars of the Palais house over 60,000 bottles of wine from around the world, some dating back to 1727. It’s recognized internationally as being one of the most extensive and impressive collections for a restaurant, the thick walls and labyrinth of cellars providing perfect conditions to store, and age, the great wines of the world. A tour of these cellars, accompanied by the knowledgeable sommelier, proved both fascinating and illuminating, not only because of the vast collections of wines but also the sense of history buried deep within the cold cellars.
The atmospheric, and somewhat haunting, cellars of the Palais Coburg provided the perfect venue for the media launch of the spirited Wraith. As summed up by Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce’s CEO, at the March unveiling, “Wraith alludes to an almost imperceptible force, something rare, agile and potent, a spirit that will not be tethered to the earth.”
Chef Silvio Nickol catered the launch dinner; his exceptional culinary creations were recognized and rewarded last year as his namesake Gourmet Restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars. He showcased his talents with an array of delectable dishes during the evening, including a noteworthy melt-in-the-mouth duck liver, cleverly shaped into the head of a mushroom, which graced a plate designed like a forest floor. Handmade Canadian lobster ravioli, with sautéed spinach in a rich creamy lobster sauce, further tempted our taste buds and succulent pan-fried Venison with savoy cabbage in cream, cranberry and pepper sauce delighted the diners, in awe of such culinary expertise.
If you want to experience the height of luxury and opulence in Vienna then the Palais Coburg is the place to stay; with magnificent suites, gourmet food, and a wine list featuring over 5,000 bottles, it’s no wonder it’s the haunt of the rich and famous and one of Europe’s most exclusive sanctuaries for Rolls-Royce customers and their families. Discretion is of course guaranteed and back exits provide an escape from pestering paparazzi.
It was now time for us to escape, leave behind the confines of the city, and test-drive the most powerful Rolls-Royce of all time. As you behold the Wraith you immediately realize it’s not just a luxury car; it’s a breathtaking feat of engineering and design. This car exudes power; the two-tone paint enhances the frameless coach doors, the wide rear track and the high waistline. The low roofline, raked cabin and longer bonnet hint at the Wraith’s agility and prowess but the perfect balance between sporty and sophisticated can only be fully appreciated by stepping inside this prestigious vehicle.
Although loath to leave the lavishness of the Palais Coburg, once ensconced behind Wraith’s coach doors we discovered luxury beyond expectation. Given the dramatic exterior one might expect some compromise on comfort, but as you sink into the luxurious natural grain leather you immediately feel cocooned in spacious, plush surroundings. It’s evident that the seats were designed to ensure the most involved Rolls-Royce driving experience ever and there’s no straining from your seat to close the door either, just touch a button and it will gently shut, enclosing you in the most beautifully designed interior.
Expansive Canadel Panelling adorns the inside of the Wraith; this stunning open grain wood contributes towards the cabin’s luxurious ambiance and teamed with black chrome dials, the overall effect is elegant yet dynamic. A glance upward and we fall further in love, as over a thousand tiny fiber optic lamps, hand-woven into the roof lining, twinkle like stars – the effect is spectacular. The Starlight Headliner is one of the most popular bespoke features and was previously only available in the Phantom range.
The engine in the Wraith is so quiet you wonder if it really is the promised 6.6 liter twin-turbo V12 hidden behind the pantheon grille. One touch of the accelerator confirms it is, the Wraith does an easy 0-60 in 4.4 seconds with a top speed of 155mph. You can feel the barely contained power in the Wraith, transmitted effortlessly by the eight speed automatic ZF transmission.
One hundred years ago Rolls-Royce entered the 1913 Alpine trail with four 75hp cars, it won six awards, including the Archduke Leopold Cup. Part of our 370 km test-drive route covers some of the same sweeping Alpine route, and really gives the driver a chance to put the car through its paces.
Feather-like steering makes light of the twist and turns on these roads, the gears automatically changing to maximize acceleration with the aid of Satellite Aided Transmission. Introduced by Product Manager Philip Harnett, a former systems engineer with the BMW Formula 1 team, it uses GPS data to anticipate the driver’s next move and selects the appropriate gear; corners, motorway junctions and roundabouts are all anticipated in advance – this is one intelligent system.
Conditions are wet and hairpin turns aplenty but the Wraith is at ease, double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension work with the intelligent air-suspension system and electronic variable damping, ensuring a ‘magic carpet ride’ no matter what the terrain. Combined with cornering brake control, anti-roll stabilization, dynamic stability and traction control, the Wraith sticks to the slippery roads like glue, leaving us to admire the breathtaking Alpine scenery.
Should the worst happen the Advanced Crash Management System utilizes sensors around the car to ensure it deploys the correct safety features; seatbelts feature force limiters and smart airbags help protect both the driver and passengers. Auto eCall will also ensure the emergency services are aware of your location via GPS, which could be incredibly handy should you break down on some of the more remote roads in Qatar.
In today’s fast-paced world communication, wherever you are, is essential. In the Wraith connectivity is effortless with the inbuilt computer and 10.25 inch high definition screen located on the dashboard. Likened to having an on-board valet it’s voice activated and commands navigation, telephone, and in-car entertainment, plus it can even be used to send e-mails and text messages safely, directly from the car.
What Alpine cruise would be complete without some tunes? The only problem was deciding what to play as the Wraith’s bespoke audio system holds 20.5 GB of storage, or 5,700 items of music downloaded via the USB port. Whatever you choose to play, be assured that with 18 speakers, the sound quality is astounding.
We can’t fail to mention the sophisticated series of cameras in the Wraith. Parking was a breeze with rear, front and 360-degree top view cameras, plus obstacle recognition and reverse path prediction on-screen. Of course this is one of our favorite features, any car that can practically park itself gets our vote, plus it was a life saver when prompted to do a three-point-turn on a tiny Alpine lane blocked with goats. Whatever the situation you will be able to navigate out of it with ease with the Wraith.
Rolls-Royce shakes off its traditional image to emerge slicker and more powerful in the form of the formidable Wraith. Even the 102-year-old Spirit of Ecstasy figurine has reinvented herself, taking a more elevated and prominent frontal position on this spectacular vehicle. The sense of sophistication is preserved in the Wraith with a rather dashing interior, and, as with every Rolls-Royce, this is a definite head turner. The multitude of advanced features also guarantees amazing ride quality, which may well prompt a rethink for those of you who normally choose to be chauffeured – instead of declaring “Home James”; you may well be asking him to move over.