2015 Rolls-Royce Wraith review

624 hp seems like overkill when a Rolls-Royce Wraith feels so amazing sitting still

The Wraith isn’t the best-driving car in the world, but driving it will make you feel the best in the world.
The Wraith isn’t the best-driving car in the world, but driving it will make you feel the best in the world.
The Wraith isn’t the best-driving car in the world, but driving it will make you feel the best in the world.

Highs

  • Stunning looks
  • Nearly unparalleled build quality
  • Effortless power
  • Finest suspension in history

Lows

  • A bit yacht-like during cornering

DT Editors' Rating

When I started writing about cars several years ago, there were four brands that I held on high, ones I saw as the pinnacle of the industry: Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Rolls-Royce.

It was the far off — albeit unrealistic — dream of driving these cars that kept me slogging through reviews of the Mitsubishi Mirages of the world. They were the carrot on the end of the stick that kept me trudging along.

Amazingly, I eventually worked my way up to these god-like vehicles, first Bentley, then Ferrari, then Lamborghini. Finally, I reached the final holdout: Rolls-Royce.

To my amazement, I found Rolls-Royces drove exactly how I imagined they would: perfectly.

To my amazement, I found Rolls-Royces drove exactly how I imagined they would: perfectly. They offer force-of-nature power, yacht-like handling, and exquisite craftsmanship, which can be both observed and felt.

And although the Wraith is the “sports car” of the Rolls range, it still drives a lot like its larger cousin, the Ghost II. Yes, the Wraith might be a suicide-doored coupe, but it still drove like a seafaring yacht, albeit one with 624 horsepower.

Despite its driving dynamics falling into my preconceived notions, I was in no way disappointed with the Wraith. Because – as with customers who buy the Wraith – it stands as a culmination of a lifetime of work. Even though a pedestrian, a random passerby, could accurately predict the sensation of driving a Rolls, it’s still a wondrous thing. Because it’s not how it drives exactly; it’s about how it makes a driver feel.

Sports car?

If the Rolls-Royce men are to be believed, the Wraith is supposed to be the kind of car that well-heeled buyers can acquire when they can’t decide between a Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II and a Ferrari. In terms of looks, they’re dead on; the V12-powered coupe looks the part with suicide doors and a fastback rear-end.

Drop behind the wheel, fire the engine, and start rolling, and that sense quickly fades. Despite what Rolls likes to think, and its twin-turbo V12 engine, the Wraith is no replacement for a Ferrari.

2015-Rolls-Royce-Wraith-left-side

Honestly, it shouldn’t be. I reckon, if an eight-year-old can’t imagine driving a Roller just by staring at the poster on his wall, the British brand has failed us all. So branding the Wraith a sports car is a bit of a misnomer. It’s simply a slightly edgier Roller.

When it comes down to it, this Roller is the first in a long time that is designed to drive, rather than be driven in. It, then, is more of a cruiser coupe. It’s the kind of car the members of the ‘Pharos’ gang in American Graffiti would have driven, if they were heirs to a Saudi oil fortune.

Interior

I could tell you about the many bulls that graciously gave their lives to cover the Wraith interior, the vibrant head-up display (HUD), or the Spirit of Ecstasy infotainment system, which is a derivation of the BMW iDrive system. These are niggling details that likely won’t excite.

Something about the large, gorgeous Canadel panels just make me want to rub my face against them.

Let me instead jump to the two outstanding interior appointments of the Wraith that — like the brand before it — make me warm with delight: the Canadel paneling and the Starlight Headliner.

We’ll start with the more obvious of the two: the Canadel paneling. Open the door and occupants are greeted with the new open-grain wood paneling, which encompasses the majority of the inner door panel. Finished in a light satin finish, the open-grain wood is angled at 55 degrees, which improves the visual flow of the interior.

The panels are like nothing else in the industry and – in my opinion – are alone nearly worth the entire $284,900 of the base price. Something about the large, gorgeous Canadel panels just make me want to rub my face against them. And, no, I can’t explain why.

If, for some reason, occupants are unimpressed Canadel panels, they needn’t wait longer than after sunset to experience the Wraith’s next trick: its Starlight Headliner.

Composed of 1,340 individual fiber optic lights, which are hand-woven into the leather roof lining, the Starlight Headliner is a bespoke option designed to mimic the starry night sky above the heads of the occupants. If you have to be so gauche as to ask, this stunning light show will set buyers back $12,925.

Effortlessness

I’ve said the Wraith drove exactly how I expected it to. Perhaps I should explain that a bit with a few mechanical details of the car.

First off, it’s powered by a BMW-derived 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 that produces 624 horsepower mated to an eight-speed Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT) that chooses gears based upon information gathered from the navigation system and routes power to the rear wheels. This combo is good for a 0-to-60 run of 4.4 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Its interior is the finest in the world. It handles like a yacht. And it accelerates not with anger but with aplomb.

One might expect that, with 624 ponies, the Wraith’s acceleration is neck wrenching and immediate. It is … and it isn’t. Yes, it gets to 60 very quickly indeed. But it – oddly – doesn’t feel as fast as it is. That’s because Rolls designers had effortlessness in mind, when tuning the car.

That translates into a wafting feeling, no matter the speed or the throttle position. The Wraith would never dare try to rip the driver’s head off. Instead, it will gently – but forcefully – guide him to 60 and beyond.

Handling is more what you would expect. Before I began this review, I turned to the fellow who sits next to me at Digital Trends, Ryan Waniata. Ryan reviews sound systems mostly. He’s never driven a Rolls-Royce, but has a keen mind for quality and how things should be.

I asked him how he imagined a Rolls might drive. He paused for a moment, looked down, furrowed his brow and took a breath. He looked back up at me and said, “like a boat.” Granted, this is an oversimplification of the sensation, but he hit the nail pretty well on the head.

2015-Rolls-Royce-Wraith-drivers

The Wraith is sportier than the Ghost II, but not as sporty as a Bentley GT Speed. So it doesn’t handle very flatly, during hard cornering. This is due to the fact that Rolls-Royce has fitted to the fastback coupe perhaps the greatest suspension in the history of not only cars, but all moving things.

The air suspension might not keep the big body flat in the corners, but it sucks up bumps and roadway imperfections like a floating magic carpet. And, no, I am not making a lame reference there; that’s actually how Rolls-Royce itself refers to the ride quality.

Conclusion

It’s taken me some time between having driven the Wraith and my review of it. That’s because it flummoxed me a bit with its predictability. Its interior is the finest in the world. It handles like a yacht. And it accelerates not with anger but with aplomb.

This left me for quite some time not knowing what to say about the Wraith. It was that realization that leads me to the conclusion: That’s exactly what I should say.

The Wraith I tested clocked in around $390,000. The kind of man who can afford the Wraith has worked very hard to do so. Accordingly, he’ll want to show the world just how well he’s done. To that end, there is no finer car in the world.

The Rolls-Royce Wraith achieves its goals not by outperforming the competition, but rather by changing the driver’s reality. The Wraith is worth its price tag because of how the driver feels behind the wheel and how people perceive and treat occupants. And it’s those sensations that are priceless.

Highs

  • Stunning looks
  • Nearly unparalleled build quality
  • Effortless power
  • Finest suspension in history

Lows

  • A bit yacht-like during cornering
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Gaming

Wired headphones are so 2018. Here's how to pair a Bluetooth device to your PS4

One of the best aspects of modern consoles is how easily you can pair them with other devices. Here's our quick primer on how to connect a Bluetooth headset (or really any Bluetooth device) to your PlayStation 4.
Gaming

An ode to Cuphead: One of the most lovable games of all time

Revisiting Cuphead on Nintendo Switch is just as memorable as it was on Xbox One nearly two years ago. Cuphead's aesthetic has a magical quality that transports you back to the childhood joy of discovery.
Gaming

Brace yourself. Sony’s PlayStation 5 is going to be expensive

How much will Sony's PlayStation 5 cost? Official pricing will stay under wraps for months, but early details provide enough information to make a guess. Our estimate suggests the price will be higher than fans expect to pay.
Gaming

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.
Cars

Café racer-inspired ebike hits 28 mph quickly and quietly with carbon belt drive

Ebike manufacturer Electra launched the Café Moto Go, an advanced ebike. The Café Moto Go's step-over frame was inspired by café racers. The Café Moto Go is a premium performance ebike built to run smoothly and extra quietly.
Cars

Where to go when your EV is low: Rich neighborhoods have most charging stations

If you're running low on juice in your electric vehicle, head for the rich part of town. A survey by Realtor.com found median home list prices in the 20 U.S. ZIP codes with the most EV charging stations were 2.6 times the national average.
Cars

Ford is keeping hackers out of its cars by putting key fobs to sleep

Ford found a way to stop thieves who try to hack their way into a car by duplicating its key fob. It developed a smart key fob that puts itself to sleep when it's idle for at least 40 seconds. It automatically wakes up when someone picks it…
Cars

This vintage Ford Bronco off-roader has a modern electric powertrain

Zero Labs took a classic Ford Bronco and replaced its gasoline engine with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. So you get the style and off-road capability of a Bronco, but with zero emissions.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Earth Day, indoor container farming, robot submarines

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discuss how technology intersects with Earth Day, a new Tim Cook biography, indoor container farming, robot spy submarines, A.I. death metal, and more.
Cars

Tesla will have ‘autonomous robotaxis’ in 2020, Elon Musk says

Tesla will deploy self-driving cars in a "robotaxi" service in 2020, CEO Elon Musk said at the automaker's Autonomy Investor Day. Musk has promised autonomous Tesla electric cars before, but will he finally deliver this time?
Cars

Startup Smartcar accuses bigger rival Otonomo of stealing intellectual property

California-based startup Smartcar claims its intellectual property was stolen by a much bigger (and better-funded) rival named Otonomo. Otonomo hasn't given its side of the story yet.
Cars

2020 Nissan 370Z Special Edition celebrates 50 Years of the Z car

Nissan is celebrating 50 years of its iconic "Z car" with a special edition of the 2020 370Z. The 50th-anniversary model is dressed to look like a 1970s race car, but remains technically unchanged.
Product Review

BMW’s smallest M car is its biggest performance statement

The BMW M2 Competition is frighteningly quick in a straight line, and its short wheelbase lends itself to some hilarious power slides, but it’s the curvy roads and tight tracks where this coupe comes alive.