Rolls-Royce does not want you to look at the all-new 2014 Wraith coupe as a logical extension of the brand, nor does it want you to think of it as a two-door version of the Ghost sedan. What the Wraith is to Rolls-Royce is an amalgamation of the automaker's history of racing, design, and bespoke automobiles.
Spiritually a Phantom
The storied marque wants its customers -- and those who dream of being its customers -- to look at the Wraith as a baby Phantom Coupe rather than a rakish variant spun from the Ghost's bones. To drive this point home, the Wraith uses frameless, power-operated, rear-hinged "coach" doors—complete with stainless steel door pulls—that are similar to those on the bigger Phantom. The Wraith also forgoes B-pillars; the daylight opening is ringed in bright chrome that, Rolls says, "adds length and a sense of waftable debonair to the car's character."
Inside, the cabin is swathed in the same high-quality leather used in the larger Phantom Drophead coupe rather than the "lesser" hides used for the Ghost sedan. Also borrowed from the Phantom range -- and available for the first time in any Rolls other than the Phantom -- is the Starlight Headliner, which presents a simulated starry night sky inside the cabin. Individual fiber optic lights – 1340 of them -- are hand-woven into the leather headliner to create the magical effect. There are other options for those who don't want to relive a Van Gogh–like masterpiece, including a fixed glass roof with a full-leather shade.
The Wraith's cabin actually one-ups the Phantom with its exotic new wood treatment. Named Canadel Panelling, the porous wood trim has a light satin finish and a tactile texture. Matte wood may not be groundbreaking -- Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and even Jeep offer it now – but Rolls-Royce orients the straight grain is at a precise 55-degree angle throughout the interior and bookmatches the paneling so that the passenger's side mirrors the driver's side perfectly. (Rolls and Bentley have both been bookmatching trim for a number of years.) Most stunning is the door treatment: the armrests and door controls appear to float in a single square piece of the beautifully crafted wood.
Niceties extend to the rear seat passengers as well, with iPad storage compartments and C-pillar-mounted mirror housings with illuminated Rolls-Royce logos.
No matter how much leather and wood or how many twinkling stars Rolls stuffs into the Wraith, there is no getting past the fact that this coupe is based on the less-expensive Ghost sedan (which is, in turn, based on the current BMW 760Li). However, the Ghost's underpinnings are solid, especially the twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V-12 engine, which for the Wraith has been retuned to produce 624 hp and an exorbitant 590 lb-ft of torque at just 1500 rpm; that's 61 more horses and 15 more lb-ft than the Ghost. Rolls-Royce estimates that the sleek coupe will be able to dash from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.6 seconds and achieve an electronically limited 155 mph top speed.
The Wraith also shares the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission with its sedan sibling, but it has an innovative new trick up its sleeve -- Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT). Developed by Philip Harnet, who was previously an electronic and systems engineer for BMW's Formula 1 team, SAT will hold a gear if the satellite GPS data indicates an upcoming turn, hill, or highway entrance.
To maintain Rolls-Royce's trademark "magic carpet ride," the Wraith uses the Ghost’s double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, which work with an electronically variable air suspension system at all four corners to smooth out imperfections. It also shares its in-cabin technology, including a head-up display; adaptive headlights; night vision technology with hazard alerts; 360-degree cameras; and 10.25-inch high-definition infotainment screen controlled by a "Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller" (it's an iDrive controller) that includes a new touchpad for writing letters and numbers. Tech changes from the Ghost to the Wraith include the addition of the Rolls-Royce Connect iPhone application, which adds RSS, Google search, and social media capabilities; a voice-activated text-to-speech feature for composing emails and text messages; and a specially designed 1300-watt, 18-speaker sound system. Don't be surprised to see these upgrades in the sedan in the not-too-distant future.
Designed Like a Wraith
“Wraith” is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "a likeness of a living person seen as an apparition." Looking at the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith could be likened to looking at the Ghost sedan but with the edges blurred. Compared with the sedan, the coupe is 0.9 inches wider at the rear, has a wheelbase that is 7.2 inches shorter, is down by 5.2 inches in overall length, and stands 2.0 inches lower. While the Wraith’s front fascia may look similar to the Ghost's, Rolls made some subtle changes: a larger intake, a 1.8-inch-deeper grille, and a tilt of five degrees for the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament.
However, when the Wraith is viewed from the side or the rear, the design differences are much more clear. Not only is the car a two-door, it wears a sloping fastback that flows directly from the backlight to the trunklid. A defined shoulder line delineates the upper body from the lower, and it looks quite dashing when dressed in a two-tone paint scheme, as pictured here. Slightly swollen wheel wells are filled with standard seven-spoke 20-inch wheels, although two 21-inch wheels are optional: either a polished seven-spoke or a part-polished, bi-color five-spoke design. The overall design is stunning – it looks both modern and timeless.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but given the Ghost's $250,000 point of entry, we expect a starting price of around $300,000 before any customization options.