At the rate it's going, Rolls-Royce will completely ruin its reputation. Fastest Rolls-Royce yet? Trumpeting its 0-to-60-mph time (4.4 seconds)? Boldly proclaiming horsepower and torque when the answer used to be, "It is adequate"? Once the Ghost was launched in 2010, the image of Rolls-Royce as a chauffeur-driven dilettante's car was blown to smithereens. At the time, R-R public affairs boss Richard Carter told us (with tongue firmly in cheek), "Naught to sixty in 4.8 seconds is disturbing. We don't want to be known as sporty. But . . . there you have it."
With the 2014 Wraith, you have even more of it. Based on the Ghost sedan, the Wraith coupe loses 110 pounds and two doors, shrinks a few inches, drops the roof a smidge, and even tucks the Flying Lady down another five degrees against the wind. It's four-tenths of a second quicker to 60 mph than the Ghost, and its engine is tuned to produce an extra 61 hp. While the base Ghost has nineteen-inch wheels, the Wraith comes with twenty-inchers that carry 255/45R-20 front and 285/40R-20 rear Goodyear tires. All this, and the Rolls coupe has lost only 1 mpg in its EPA highway rating compared with the Ghost.
We spent some time on the track at Goodwood as well as on the nearby lanes surrounding the Rolls-Royce factory and found the Wraith to be a real dynamo, yet nicely balanced. The light yet direct steering is supplemented by cornering-brake assist, so the car's arc adjusts ever so slightly as a corner tightens. "A gentle guidance," adds ride-along racing driver Gavin Pyper. "It's a very Rolls-Royce way of making the situation better." (These British guys crack me up.) It's actually magic, and we love it.
Now add the avant-garde, crazy-looking tail (and whatever bespoke touches your heart desires), and you have a very special, very luxurious, very speedy beast indeed. With the Wraith, not only has R-R blown off the last shred of granny's nightgown still clinging to the Flying Lady, but the old girl has also copped a brand-new attitude.