Once among the world’s most recognizable brands with an unequaled reputation, Rolls- Royce not too long ago lost its spirit. Often named after ghosts, Rolls-Royce became its namesake. No one wanted one, even at near-giveaway prices. The car’s Flying Lady hood ornament, officially called the Spirit of Ecstasy, was heavily tarnished.
But in the decade since Torsten Müller-Öt- vös assumed CEO responsibilities, Rolls- Royce has far surpassed its successes of yesteryear. The 2020 Rolls-Royce Wraith is among the reasons. Sales are relative, particularly among uber luxury cars. Rolls-Royce sold 796 vehicles globally in 2005. Last year, 5,152 sold in more than 50 countries, the company’s finest sales year.
For 2020, the Wraith remains the company’s high-performance model. It features a twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V12 engine that produces 624 horsepower. It’s the most powerful car the company has ever made. It weighs 5,380 pounds but has serious, controlled speed.
The body style is a two-door pillar-less coupe with iconic suicide doors. The door handles are likely the largest ever installed in a car. Their girth suggests they weigh more than a Chevy Spark.
The Wraith’s interior is an opulent living room where the old world meets modern, understated technology. The analog features are complemented by the digital age working in the background.
Every surface has a unique texture and color. The stitching and hides are different. Rolls-Royce has all the top-scale necessities in the back, but it forgot a place for adult-sized legs, so the rear seats are only for the small.
A Rolls-Royce model’s performance is always at least equally matched by its beauty. Its battle-tank strength front flows into elegant curves at the rear of the beast. The Wraith offers poised and unassuming city driving—as if a Rolls- Royce can be understated. If you feel the need to accelerate to merge into traffic with ease or maneuver around a pending situation, the Rolls’ power prevails.
The base price is $330,000, but how could there be another $131,250 in upgrades? Easy. The Black Badge trim, 21-inch carbon wheels to illuminate treadplates, costs $50,000, even without the Shooting Star headliner ($17,500), the vibrant Adriatic Blue exterior paint ($11,900) and the Rolls- Royce audio system ($10,250). And, yes, the signature $700 Teflon-coat- ed hidden umbrella is included. A gas guzzler tax ($2,600) for putrid gas mileage (12 mpg city/18 mpg high- way), a $2,750 destination and handling fee and lambswool foot mats ($1,575) contribute handsomely to the bankroll, as well.
But it’s about the experience. The Wraith is for drivers obsessed with driving. Steering is light; the torque from the magnificent V12 can shove your back deep into the handpicked leather. The car feels big because it is. You buy one because you can, without justification or guilt.