The Rolls-Royce Wraith is finally here, after a seemingly endless stream of teasers and sketches. Will it have what it takes to dethrone the Bentley Continental GT from its hyper-luxe coupe reign?

With fastback styling and Rolls-Royce's unique take on automotive sartorial splendor, the Wraith ushers in a new era of high-performance coupe exotica, complete with rearward-opening suicide doors.

At 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds courtesy of 624 horsepower from its indeterminate-displacement V-12 engine, the Wraith lags slightly behind the Bentley Continental GT Speed, but just outpaces the Continental GT V8's 4.6-second run to 60.

One thing the Wraith offers that no other car does, however is Satellite Aided Transmission. Using satellite data about the road ahead, the Wraith pre-selects the correct gear for the terrain--effectively shifting intelligently based on topological, road map, and other key data.

Rolls-Royce calls the Wraith the "gentleman's gran turismo, a car that embodies the spirit of Charles Stewart Rolls." That's high praise, even from the company that built it. As the most powerful Rolls-Royce in history, the Wraith has duty to deliver, not just on the luxury and refinement the brand has been known for over the past century, but on performance and capability.

Eschewing the tackiness of the "suicide doors" term, Rolls-Royce calls the Wraith's doors "coach doors," which open to reveal "Phantom-grade" leather and Canadel Panelling wood, named after the southern French cove where Sir Henry Royce wintered.

A "Starlight Headliner" wraps the cabin's ceiling, with 1,340 fiber optic lamps giving the impression of a starry night sky--the first time it has been available outside of the Phantom.

Behind the big V-12 engine, the Wraith uses a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission for its power delivery, sending its 590 pound-feet of torque (available from 1,500 rpm) to the wheels.

The Wraith's suspension is tuned for firm and sporty feel, minimizing body roll, while the steering aims to provide ideal feedback by varying from light and easy weight at low speeds to a firmer, heavier feel when approaching (or exceeding) triple digits.

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith

Rolls-Royce hasn't disclosed the Wraith's likely quasar-class curb weight, but claims it's no "GT bruiser," but is instead nimble and agile.

Other key features in the Wraith include a head-up display, adaptive headlights, and keyless-opening trunk. Voice-activation also plays a major role in the car's "on-board valet" system, enabling one-touch phone calls, navigation destination assignment with out manual input, and natural-language speech recognition.

The infotainment experience is otherwise controlled by the latest iteration of the Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller. No, it's not an antiquated telephone interface, but Rolls-Royce's next generation of human-machine relations, allowing the use of a touch pad with pinch and pull gestures that mimics smartphone and tablet interfaces.

The Rolls-Royce Wraith starts from 245,000 euros in Europe, likely indicating a $250,000-$300,000 price tag for those of us in America. Deliveries begin in the fourth quarter of 2013.


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