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Friday
Mar082013

The Spirit of Excess-tasy

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Thankfully it’s not as hideous as GM’s “Aerodeck” models of the 1980s or the AMC Marlin, but to call this car a “Wraith” is to play on that word’s “ghost-like” definition (the Wraith shares much with the four-door Ghost). That’s because the Rolls is anything but insubstantial, its other definition. This is a large coupe.

Perhaps the naming folks were thinking of how lithe the new car will feel as its 624-hp V12 (+61 hp compared to the Ghost) sends power oozing through an eight-speed automatic transmission; 0-60 mph arriving in just 4.4 seconds. Yet, this being a Rolls, the driver need never worry about the car being in the wrong gear as the Wraith introduces a new technology: Satellite Aided Transmission. The ZF automatic uses GPS data to assess the road ahead and anticipate the driver’s next move; selecting the most appropriate gear for the road ahead. Plus, when a destination is entered into the navigation system, the Wraith’s gearbox knows well ahead of time which path the driver will take.

In addition to its communications with the transmission, the GPS unit starts navigation immediately after simplified commands are spoken into the voice-activation system. So, Rolls Royce claims, the on-screen and audible directions will begin following voice commands such as, “navigate to Piccadilly in London.” In addition, the pompously named Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller can be used to move through on-screen functions by using a touch pad with iPad-like “pinch” and “pull” functionality. Or you can draw letters onto the pad’s surface instead of scrolling through a series of on-screen characters.

Whatever the destination, the driver will be accompanied by no more than three companions as the two-tone Rolls is a four-seater. The rear-opening doors reveal a headliner with 1,340 hand-woven fiber optic strands meant to give the impression of a star-filled night sky.  Canadel wood paneling (named after the cove in the South of France where Henry Royce and his design and engineering team spent their winters), Phantom-grade leather, and an advanced navigation system also are part of the lavish fittings.

European buyers will pay about $319,000 for the Wraith. The rest of the world will have to wait until closer to its launch for the amount of their contribution.

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