From £282,6009

Can a more sporting edge to the driving experience work in a Rolls, while maintaining the ultimate in luxury and ride refinement?

Find Rolls-Royce Wraith deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
New car deals
From £282,600
Nearly-new car deals
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

The Rolls-Royce Wraith is a car of considerable allure and significance. This, in our view, is certainly the most important new model that this blue-blooded British car maker has created since the modern Rolls-Royce Phantom in 2002.

The Phantom was a watershed, ushering the Goodwood-based firm into a new, successful era. Sure, in 2010 the Rolls-Royce Ghost brought in fresh buyers – but largely by miniaturising, de-formalising and slightly discounting the Phantom’s concept.

Search the price lists for £235k, 5.3-metre long coupés and you’ll find that the Wraith is a unique proposition

There have been plenty of Phantom-based and Ghost-based derivatives, of course.

But the Wraith is a true ground-breaker – not only the most powerful car in Rolls’ history but also the closest thing to a sports car that it has ever attempted to produce, and its arrival led to the development of the soft-top Dawn.

‘Wraith’ was first used on a Rolls-Royce in 1938, but the company’s cars were making a name for themselves as world-beating racing machines decades earlier.

Founder Charles Rolls won the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy in 1906 in a Light Twenty, for instance, and in 1913 Don Carlos de Salamanca won the first ever Spanish Grand Prix in a Silver Ghost. The current Ghost saloon — the car from which the Wraith is effectively adapted — was launched in 2010

Rolls-Royce describes this 624bhp, £230k two-door Wraith as a debonair gentleman’s GT – highly refined, luxurious and exclusive like its stablemates, but more dramatic and exciting than any of them.

Back to top

In 110 years, there has never been such a thing as ‘just another Rolls-Royce’, but even in that rarefied context, the Wraith promises to be something very special indeed.

What car new buying red 353


Rolls-Royce Wraith rear

Developed on the same BMW-derived mechanical platform as the Ghost saloon, the Wraith has an all-steel body. But use of BMW architecture doesn’t make it any less authentic as a Rolls-Royce in our book.

Labour-intensive processes and special technical solutions that you can’t see combine with the elegant fastback design that you can see to ensure – as with the Rolls-Royce Ghost – that this is every inch the uncompromising automotive aristocrat.

Rolls-Royce calls the Wraith a fastback – a popular style of the 1930s streamlined design era

The car’s body panels are brazed by hand, for example, before the joins are sanded to a perfect finish for painting. There are 6394 spot welds on the car, and laser-welded seams in places, too. Rolls-Royce fits a double front bulkhead to keep the cabin extra-quiet. Such things are way beyond the realm of a BMW 7 Series.

In the broadest terms, Goodwood has taken a Rolls-Royce Ghost saloon, lopped off two doors and 183mm of wheelbase, stretched the rear axle track by 24mm and brought the roofline closer to the road by 50mm.

That, however, says nothing of the quite exquisite body that it has created for this sporting coupé, which manages to inject just enough dynamism into Rolls’ unmistakable aesthetic to quicken the heart rate – but not enough to raise an eyebrow.

The Wraith uses the same double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear as the Ghost, carrying self-levelling, roll-cancelling air suspension and adaptive dampers.

The chassis is retuned for flatter, more agile and more responsive handling but, says its maker, with reverence for the trademark wafting ride that every Rolls-Royce trades on.

Power for the car comes from an overhauled version of the Ghost’s leviathan 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12, which produces 590lb ft and 624bhp – just over 10 percent more power than the cheaper, longer four-door. Enough extra grunt? Under the circumstances, probably just about.


Rolls-Royce Wraith dashboard

A polished steel door handle permits access to the cabin through an extra-long, rear-hinged ‘coach’ door that feels surprisingly light as you swing it open, and lighter still as you shut it since closing it can be done by a motor at the press of a button.

You sit slightly lower in here than in a Rolls-Royce Ghost or a Rolls-Royce Phantom, as befits a sports coupé, but your backside remains an awfully long way from the ground. Perched upright, you survey a cabin of breathtaking sumptuousness, peerless material richness and excellent quality.

All-round camera system makes lining up the Wraith in car parks a cinch

The leathers, claims Rolls-Royce, are the softest in the business – and they feel just that. The equally tactile, bookmatched ‘Canadel’ wood panelling running throughout the fascia and doors would grace a multi-million-pound superyacht. In continuation of the theme, the Wraith’s classic instruments, with arrow-straight orange-tipped needles, look almost naval.

But most impressive of all is how cleverly the Wraith’s 21st century in-car technology is integrated into a cabin so endearingly 20th century in its styling idiom – and very early 20th century at that.

The 10.3in high-definition multimedia display is revealed from behind a sliding wood panel, and the fingertip-sensitive iDrive-style rotary controller that masters it is made from crystal cut glass and decorated with a tribute to the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine on the prow of the car.

Far from being shy about up-to-date in-car technology, Rolls-Royce has happily fitted voice-activated satellite navigation, an optional head-up display and a Rolls-Royce Connect iPhone app to the Wraith, all because they contribute to how discreetly the in-car technology operates overall. Rolls-Royce buyers, the company says, like discreet, unobtrusive technology — as do we.

The voice control system works as well as on any other car within the BMW group, which means perfectly well — and it can be used to control the navigation, telephone and audio systems. Seldom do you need to repeat a command. And according to Rolls-Royce, requests like ‘Navigate to Piccadilly’ or ‘Play BBC Radio 4’ work particularly well.

The Bluetooth is easy to pair. The satellite navigation is also easy to program and uses RTTI (Real Time Traffic Information) to route around jams quite effectively. In addition, you can send a destination for that system to the car from your iPhone in advance, using the Rolls-Royce Connect app, to save yourself time on departure.

Some of the classic Rolls-Royce quirks take a bit of getting used to though. There is no manual override for the eight-speed automatic transmission at all, and no tachometer for the engine. In a driver’s car, a revcounter and gearchange paddles would seem to us to be important inclusions.

Cabin space in the car is generous up front and generous enough in the rear for all but the largest of adults.

As for the rest of the standard equipment, there are two trims - Wraith and Black Edition. The entry-level model comes with 20in alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, walnut burr for the dashboard, DVD player, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and a hat stand.

Upgrade to the more exclusive Black Edition, and you get a sumptumous black paint job and a raft of more equipment, which includes 21in alloy wheels, a 360-degree camera system, starlight headliner, lane departure assistance, adaptive cruise control and infrared night vision. Inside there is ventilated front seats, a head-up display, a Rolls-Royce Bespoke audio system and lambswool floor mats.


Rolls-Royce Wraith drifting

It has been a little while since Rolls-Royce disclosed only that a model’s power and performance were “adequate”. These days, it is confident to suggest that the Wraith’s 624bhp is sufficient to propel it to 60mph in 4.4sec, despite a kerb weight of 2435kg.

Our performance tests are stricter than most – completed two up and with plenty of fuel aboard – so there is no shame in the fact that, in our hands, the Wraith wanted 4.6sec to reach 60mph.

The 6.6-litre V12 produces 624bhp and 590lb ft

Quite the opposite, in fact. Despite having no launch control (unseemly), this is a car that reaches 60mph just 0.2sec after an Audi RS4 and has pulled 0.3sec ahead of the Audi before 100mph, a yardstick that it dispatches in 10 seconds dead.

That it does so is mildly surprising. That it does so with so little drama – a Bentley Continental GT is almost identically fast but makes a deal more racket proving it – is the Wraith’s calling card.

Things are more vocal here than in a Rolls-Royce Phantom – especially if you push the Low button on the gearlever, effectively doing what Sport would do on most auto shifts, and selecting a lower gear.

Even so, though, it’s no more or less audible than you’d expect any Rolls-Royce engine to be. Rolls has pitched the Wraith right where it should be.

We suspect that you’d spend even more time in Low were it not for a novel feature of the Wraith's eight-speed ZF auto, which monitors the sat-nav’s reading of the road ahead and selects an appropriate gear to cater for it.

So if you’re headed for a corner and lift off, the auto knows that the corner is coming and holds a gear for you, rather than shifting up as it otherwise might. Likewise, it recognises motorway slip roads and leaves you in the correct gear for accelerating.

Not that you necessarily detect any of this going on, but although the twin-turbo V12 has ample torque anyway, it saves the jolt of kicking down and retains a pleasing, linear response to the throttle.

The Rolls-Royce Wraith just feels quick, any time, anywhere. Entirely adequate, in fact.


Rolls-Royce Wraith side profile

Although Rolls-Royces found some motorsport successes in the early years, ‘handling’ has never since been particularly high on the list of the company’s priorities.

Until now? Of a fashion. The Wraith is the most dynamic Rolls yet but retains most of the qualities of the Rolls-Royce Ghost – which means that it rides and glides, albeit with a little less isolation into the cabin than the saloon on which it’s based.

The brakes stand up to abuse pretty well. Fade won't be an issue on the road

It still feels like a Rolls-Royce, though, so it steers with fingertip lightness, and a sense of imperious detachment is all-pervading.

How much less detached than a Rolls-Royce Phantom? Enough to feel different, close enough to feel like a Rolls.

At times the steering wheel elicits a small shimmy, if you hit a mid-corner bump, to remind you that you’re in a more dynamic car, but don’t mistake a slight openness to corruption as anything like a prelude to feel. The steering offers consistency and linearity, but no more.

This is meant to be a car that is extremely easy to drive quickly. To an extent, that is the case. On motorways, it’s extremely stable and effortlessly responsive. On smaller roads, there is more body movement and settling time than you’d want for truly quick driving, but keep its size and girth in the back of your mind and satisfyingly brisk progress comes naturally.

Most BMWs have a disabling button for the stability control positioned front row centre, so it tells you quite a lot that here it is buried within the iDrive system. With the DSC on, the Wraith delivers fairly steady emergency or on-limit handling.

There’s considerable dive under braking or hard cornering, of course, and rapid lane changes are best thought about rather than hooked in an emergency. But ultimately it’s a reliable, trustworthy companion.

Switch the DSC off — and there’s a chance that owners might for a giggle — and the Wraith reveals a slightly different character. Once you heave it into a turn (and trailing the brakes on the way in is an advantage to keep the nose planted), the inherent handling balance is towards oversteer.

Around our dry handling circuit, the nose goes where it’s pointed, while the rear attempts to dutifully follow but sometimes can’t quite manage it and lapses into a lazy, easily caught slide. It’s an unexpected (but more hilarious than we imagined) handling trait.


Rolls-Royce Wraith

The Wraith is a predictably expensive machine. A typical buyer would be expected to add several tens of thousands of pounds worth of options to the £230,320 list price, and already there are nearly new cars on the secondhand market with prices north of £275k in reflection of that.

With rival offerings from Bentley and Aston Martin available for little more than half as much, the Wraith certainly looks like a committed purchase. Owners would expect nothing less, of course; perhaps that’s the price of such distinguished exclusivity.

The star-lit roof is popular and bound to be sought after come resale time

There’s more heartening news on depreciation. The oldest related Rolls-Royce Ghost saloons have given up only about £80,000 of their after-options showroom value in three years, and the rarer Wraith can be expected to do better still.

Strong value retention over that kind of timeframe means that you’ll lose no more money owning a Wraith than you would a much cheaper Aston Martin Rapide S, for instance.

Fuel economy is respectable. Our touring economy test proves that you can get better than 27mpg from a Wraith on a steady extra-urban run, should you ever want or need to. Exercise the right pedal and it’s less convincing. We averaged 15.2mpg.

What car new buying red 353


4.5 star Rolls-Royce Wraith

One method of deciding on a star rating for our road tests is to consider, if we had carte blanche, what we’d change about the car we’re testing.

In the Rolls-Royce Wraith’s case, considering who makes it and what it’s supposed to do, we end up with a list notable for its brevity.

A sublime mix of luxurious heft and near-silent tranquility. A supreme new benchmark

We suspect some owners (and us, too) would like the option of being more involved in the driving process, but apart from that there’s precious little here that we’d want different next time – apart from the obvious caveats of less weight and more efficiency that underpin all future cars.

Otherwise, the Wraith is as hushed as a car manufactured in Goodwood ought to be, yet as dynamically rewarding as any car with a near 2.5-tonne kerb weight and such an isolated ride has any right to be. In its interior and ambience, it is almost perfectly judged.

Rivals like the Aston Martin Rapide might be ten times the driver's car – and prettier – but they're not ten times the product.

The Wraith is a hit, in other words, capable of both enchanting and involving all who drive it.

What car new buying red 353

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes.