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2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith

The Rolls-Royce Wraith is the most significant new model to emerge from arguably the world’s grandest car firm for many a year. It’s the most powerful Rolls-Royce ever built, and the company says it’ll help shape the marque’s future. Its more dynamic pitch aims to attract a younger breed of clientele, but Rolls-Royce claims it still retains the trademark “waftability” (their words, not ours) that its traditional customers adore.

We’ve driven the new Wraith on city streets, motorways, and the winding roads of the Austrian Alps, to find out whether it can it live up to those claims. Read on to find out what we think!

The Engine

The Wraith is powered by a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12, the same that can be found under the bonnet of the Ghost saloon on which it’s based. But here it’s been given a healthy boost up to 632hp, making this the most powerful car Rolls-Royce has ever made. Torque – a staggering 800Nm of it, to be precise – is available from a comically low 1,500rpm, and right through to 5,500rpm, giving the Wraith an astonishing ability to provide thumping performance in any gear, and at any speed.

As you’d expect with such a powerplant, this is hardly the most frugal car in the world, but fuel consumption is not as heavy as you might expect. Rolls-Royce has given the Wraith an combined figure of 14.0 litres per 100km, which drops to 9.8 litres per 100km on the extra urban cycle. CO2 emissions are rated at 327g/km.

Performance

With such monumental power on hand, you’d expect performance to be pretty devastating. And it is. 100km/h comes up in just 4.4 seconds, while the top speed is governed at 250km/h. This despite an unladen weight of 2,360kg – perhaps unsurprisingly, the Wraith is no waif.

Gearbox & Drivetrain

The Wraith features a version of ZF’s excellent eight-speed gearbox, and here it’s been kitted out with Rolls-Royce’s Satellite-Aided Transmission system, or SAT for short. The premise behind SAT is to use GPS to monitor the car’s route and the road ahead and, combining that with the driver’s prior driving style, to work out which gear is most likely to be needed next.

So, runs the theory, if you ease off the throttle on the approach to a corner, the gearbox will be able to work out that you’re not relaxing into a cruise and will hold the current gear, instead of changing up. Likewise, if you’re about to arrive at a hill, the gearbox might drop you down a gear in advance in order to provide more power for squirting up the incline.

The gearbox also boasts the ability to multi-shift gears – so if it needs to change down from sixth to fourth, say, it’ll make just the one change, instead of changing down twice.

Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013

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