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Regal Wraith: Knight in White Satin

2013-09-27 08:38


THE BEST WAY TO TRAVEL: Egmont Sippel says the best way to the travel is not in your mind but behind the wheel of a 465kW Wraith. Image: ROLLS-ROYCE

Stunning looks, a V12 capable of 465kW/800Nm, 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds... veteran South African journalist and globetrotter EGMONT SIPPEL attended the world premier of the regal Rolls-Royce Wraith.

It’s not as if I was feeling blue. I’d been driving Rolls-Royce’s latest magnificent behemoth, the Wraith, for the previous hour-and-a-half, for heaven’s sake. So, feeling blue?

Nope. Not a bit of it.

Yet, there I was, thinking of the Moody Blues who once came up with the following cleverism: “The best way to travel is in your mind.” This is not what the band meant, then, when they sang "Ride My See-Saw" – those boys who also gave us "Nights in White Satin" almost half a century ago?

Gallery: 2013 Rolls-Royce Wraith
Video: Rolls-Royce Wraith in action


No. The Blues were on my mind for another reason, and not because of the Salamanca Blue Wraith that I’d been staring at during a halfway stop on the car’s international debut drive in Austria in September 2013.

The Blues were on my mind because I’d just been for a ride with a Knight in White Satin.

Naturally, you will now conclude that my drive was in a white Wraith and you would be right. In Rolls-speak this particular pearlescent, shimmied in a whiter shade of pale, is called Carrara White, named for the famous marble.

Yet even that – even this colour coded connection – weren’t the reason for Nights in White Satin ringing around in my head; the umbilical cord rather hides in that very last word of the phrase: the Wraith is all satin.

Ja, well, no, fine. How could a solid chunk of steel possibly be described in satiny terms – for the Wraith is built around a steel monocoque body with a double front bulkhead, also from steel, the whole lot mostly cladded by steel as well, so that the metal lump eventually adds up to almost 2.4 tons which rather necessitates heavy-metal metaphors, yes? Something orbiting Metallica, yes?

No. This car, this latest Rolls, this fastback coupe version of the Ghost, this elegant barge with the backside of a Hollywood goddess, this giant of a nearly 5.3m long GT, this unadulterated gentleman’s Gran Tourer – the Wraith – is all satin.


The seats are satin. Or yes, at a push, I’ll admit to natural full-grain leather, but of the rarest, softest, most tactile kind, OK? Like satin.

Even the woods are satin-like in their finishes; lacquered piano black on the facia with a silkily smooth shine, optional panels in the frameless coach doors present the debut of a new wood treatment, called Canadel Panelling, resulting in an open-grain wood with a – wait for it – light satin finish to retain the material’s natural texture. The doors, closed at the push of a button, swing with satin-like smoothness in any case.

And to really enjoy nights in white satin, you can opt for Rolls-Royce’s Starlight Headliner which has 1340 fibre-optic light spots craftily hand-woven into the leather roof lining.

Move on to mechanicals, and you get the introduction of satellite aided transmission using GPS, enabling the gearbox to automatically prepare the right ratios for prevailing conditions. Operation of the eight-speed ZF ’box is, you’ve guessed it, satin-like; occupants are never aware of cog-swopping.


Same goes for the Wraith’s BMW based 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 with direct injection, 465kW and 800Nm being the primary force behind a 0-100km/h run of only 4.6 seconds, all of it on a slightly shorter wheelbase than the Ghost’s, but also a wider rear track. And power delivery is... well?

Silky smooth; we're getting clever here.

Which brings us to ride quality and, once again, it is the defining Rolls statement, the new car’s dramatic fastback profile notwithstanding; double front wishbones and a multi-link rear in combination with four-cornered air suspension ensure that the slightly sportier Wraith still wafts along on a mattress of air.

So, what is there about the Wraith that is not satin-like?

Well, for the first time, Rolls has allowed a measure of engine growl to creep into the cabin, but only when the taps are really opened.

And then there’s the bold, dramatic styling which presents a perfect canvas for two-tone paint schemes, which the Wraith carries so well. Yet, hidden in the grace and poise, is perhaps the gentlest touch of something else – not evil, obviously not; Satan doesn’t mix well with satin – but at the minimum there is a hint of the noir, as RR’s personable and highly intelligent director of global communications, South African Richard Carter, calls it.


Carter, by the way, is one of only six directors taking every single major decision in the ongoing roll-out of the Roll's legacy.
So, there you have it: a new addition to the most prestigious motoring brand in the world, a Knight in White Satin - or in any other colour, for that matter. Royces are hand-built and painted, after all.
So, what about a Moody Blue? With this final rider: the best way to travel is not in your mind or on a see-saw.


The best way to travel is in a Wraith.
Read more on:    rolls-royce  |  austria  |  new models

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