There's an old saying that goes, “Old ways don't open new doors.” Yet if there's one thing that quite easily disproves that idiom, it's the Rolls-Royce Wraith.
Our few short days with the Rolls gave a glimpse, not just of the amenities of the car, but of the perks arriving in one grants. It's the platinum car for the platinum card carrier and, besides privileged parking, will warrant for its owner the red carpet treatment just by rolling up to an establishment.
Unlike the typical chauffer-driven four-door variety, the Wraith is the most sporting of the lineup, built upon a shortened Ghost platform and blessed with a more youthful fast back profile. It may appear to be a fancy 2+2 grand tourer, yet with an overall length that puts a BMW 7-series to shame, can fit four very comfortably.
Why would one opt for the Wraith over a Ghost? It was conceived for the captain of industry with a more a hands-on approach. And it rewards the CEO that prefers to drive himself with the same level of luxury one can expect from a Ghost or Phantom.
It all starts with a long and squared hood, bearing the marque’s distinct grille and rectangular headlights. Signal lights are relegated to LED strips below. The grille’s character line delineates the second color tone from the rest of the body, forming the shoulder on the side and culminating in the hatch behind. The rear is an exercise in restraint, with the integrated tailpipes being the only sporting cues; no mechanical spoiler, diffuser, or tacky badging. One can opt for a single color for the entire Wraith, but few other cars can pull off a two tone scheme as elegantly as this. It does have wheel spinners, but not the tacky baller kind. Observe the Wraith as it rolls and the RR badges on the wheels are always level.
No expense has been spared in creating the engine, blessed with both an aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection, and balanced so perfectly you could stand a coin vertically on the hood with the engine revving. Its twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 has more than enough grunt to propel its 2.5 ton body to 100 km/h in a claimed 4.3 seconds, and on to an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. This Disco Volante of landyachts will keep up with cruising Ferraris and Lamborghinis on a highway, yet hardly ruffle any feathers in the process.
Easily one of the most enjoyable parts of the Wraith experience is entering and exiting. The long doors are opened suicide-style. Despite the obvious, one truly wonders why it was changed, as this method allows you more room to swing out your leg and more gracefully alight. It’s easier on the second row passengers too. Like the Ghost, an umbrellas is hidden in the base of the A-pillar. Should you be careless enough to lose it, it will set you back at least PhP200,000. And once you’re ready to go, simply press the power door button by the quarter window to close the door. All forms of manual labor have been abolished on this car.
The interior is a marvel on its own, designed like a vintage Italian wooden speedboat. It is here where tradition is most faithfully upheld. It still bears a thin-rimmed wheel, with an aluminum line nodding to the horn bars of the past. Remote stereo and telephony controls are far less obtrusively integrated. Ahead of it is a three dial cluster with the speedo, fuel and temp gauges, and – instead of a tachometer – a power reserve meter, much barely nudges with each rev. The needles, knobs, rollers and stalks are delightfully retro, with thin stems and bulbous ends, and pleasurably tactile clicks.
The seats are, as expected, very comfortable, in spite of the odd chrome inserts. The center leather-lined armrest is made of the most supple leather you will ever feel, and all the settings can be set to memory.
Over in the center of the dash is the infotainment system. The broad screen’s menus have a hint of BMW’s i-Drive, yet the controls and menus are cleverly disguised in Rolls-Royce flair. Menus are accessed by the control knob, with the top serving as a touchpad and cursor. Even the techie CEO won’t be disappointed as it easily connects to media from mobile devices and has its own built-in hard drive.
With your choice of aural stimulation connected, sound is piped through an 18-piece entertainment system. It is a Naim system, but all branding has been removed. Nonetheless, the cabin isolation is top notch and sound quality has mind-blowing depth and dimension like a real concert hall, with many of the sounds seemingly chiming in from distances beyond the cabin. With the sounds set, the entire screen can simply be hidden for a distraction-free drive.
The drive is where the Wraith lives up to reputation. Starting up barely causes a stir, with the engine nearly inaudible inside the cabin. Pulling out of tight spaces is trivial thanks to 360 degree cameras and multiple views to ensure not a single scratch.
Rollers are known for their magic carpet ride and wafting power delivery and that is true of the Wraith.
Its ride, height-adjustable of course, easily mutes all but the worst road imperfections. Purposely drive over rumble strips and there’s simply no rumble. Naturally, this provides a more boat-like ride. And while some body roll is present, it’s impressively controlled considering the vehicle’s weight. As such, it’s very easy to get the Wraith up to high speeds without knowing it. Floor the throttle and it will accelerate, yet even that surge is delivered as smoothly as possible, bereft of that neck snapping feeling. It can capably handle on twisty roads, but much of the adrenaline is lost to the soft damping.
Finally, yet another enjoyable aspect of the Wraith is the red carpet experience. Priority parking, a little more time granted by typically eager driveway security, and an army of valets lined up at the curb await, all without the cursory scan for a membership sticker on the windshield. Heavy tint is a must with the number of stares it draws whether in traffic or standing still. The only criticism is over the key fob, looking no different than that of a 1-series fob, hardly hinting of the luxury it unlocks.
All of this commands a price tag of PhP35M, which can easily balloon to far more thanks to its extensive array of options. Choose from the regular Wraith or the many special editions like Black Badge. Throw in the starlight headliner, composed of 1340 fiber optics, which can be customized to match the Philippines’ own night sky constellations. A broader menu of 44,000 paint hues and 219 grades of leather are available for extra. Love Philippine Narra or Mahogany? The woodworkers of will gladly source them for you. Hand-painted pinstripes can be added to the body. There’s also the PhP600,000 picnic set for four with handblown crystal glasses that snaps neatly in the trunk.
Call it ludicrous, but even the most harrowing traffic (thanks to the auto handbrake) can do little to dampen the light mood the sheer effortlessness and unparalleled comfort riding in the Wraith consistently grants. Even a few short days like these, with a borrowed Rolls-Royce, truly make you feel like you own the world.