Test driving a Rolls Royce Wraith

Rolls Royce Wraith

In the third part of our car reviews series, LUX experiences the silent joy of driving a Rolls-Royce Wraith

Give a small child a toy car to play with and, to accompany the motions, they will inevitably make roaring noises to imitate the engine. So what would said small child do when handed a toy Rolls-Royce Wraith ? They would have to make no noise at all, because you drive this car in complete silence. As we wafted out from the centre of Edinburgh towards the hills, there was no noise, from inside or out. A few people outside stopped, pointed and gawped. Perhaps the small child would need to line up some dolls to point at the toy car as it drove past with its plutocratic inhabitants.

It’s worth pausing for a second to consider the type of gawping we are talking about here. The Rolls didn’t attract Lamborghini-style attention, where the whole street stops and smiles, small boys stare transfixed and larger boys (and girls) whip out their camera-phones.

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No, it was more like incredulity. Our Wraith was a huge car, in two-tone silver and black, with only two doors but the road presence of a truck. It demands attention, and the people who stopped to look at this road sculpture did so reactively, instinctively: this is the kind of car you have if you want to feel like senior royalty, or Beyoncé .

Rolls-Royces have traditionally been cars to be driven in. The Wraith is the exception. A coupé, it is aimed at the driver, his regal passenger, and their children, or Hermès bags, on the back seat.

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To this end, it is not only silently fast, like other Rolls-Royces, it is also a little more agile. Shoot along a wide Highland road with sweeping curves, and your lips may even curve into the flickerings of a smile. The car shoots forward, and remains reasonably flat (given its size) around corners; it feels both swift and manageable.

Dark interiors of the Rolls Royce Wraith

Spacious interiors

It swallowed up the distances between towns effortlessly, and there is an assumption that the owner will share the car’s regal hauteur and sense of detachment from the world. There is also plainly an assumption that, for his car-racing needs, the owner will have available in his garage several Ferraris, McLarens and Lamborghinis.

What the Wraith does is tell you, and those whom you pass, that you really are in a different class. You travel in sepulchral silence, surrounded by panels of hand-fitted wood whose burl fits together like the seams of a Birkin bag. You, and the watching crowds, are reassured: you have made it. There is no more opulent manifestation of the automotive dream. You’ll just need the Norland nanny to teach the children that some cars do actually make roaring noises.

LUX rating: 17.5/20