2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith first drive review

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If you're truly rich--or its more discreet cousin, wealthy--you'll barely notice the pricetag on the Rolls-Royce Wraith.

BCC your CFO here: It's $289,000, and that's before you've even dabbled in the fittings and finishes that can shave another hundred grand from your offshore accounts. Before you've even raised the idea of bespoke alligator-hide upholstery or canary-yellow lacquered trim.

If you're not so well-heeled, how is it even possible to understand an enormous, enormously powerful two-door coupe like the Wraith?

Just step in the cockpit past the long rear-hinged doors, and enter a cocoon of wood and leather so womblike, you'll disown your humble beginnings and mumble about "having it shipped to the Hamptons for season."

But don't touch the pushbutton to start it up, not until you've looked around for a good, long time.

Star quality

The Wraith is a spin-off from the Rolls-Royce Ghost, but it is unquestionably the star in its household. It's beautifully contradictory. At more than 17 feet long, the Wraith's coupe roof draws the vast cabin close around its shoulders, turning it into a more intimate space that could double as a cocktail lounge, minus the cocktails.

Unless of course you want them, and convince Rolls' bespoke craftsmen to install the drinks cabinet from the Ghost and Phantom sedans in the Wraith's more compact rear seats.

They'll do whatever you want, those artisans, so long as it's obtained legally and sustainably. They'll fit the biggest swath of Canadel paneling on the Wraith's doors at a 50-degree angle, because who doesn't like a good diagonal? They'll put into play window switches that act with the damped precision of the silver-plate keys on a piccolo. They'll paint coach lines on your Wraith's body panels with a squirrel-hair brush. By hand.

Those dazzling flourishes are cause enough to tuck into the Wraith's cabin without even driving. It's splendidly comfortable. The front seats are reshaped from those in Ghost; they pocket passengers more deeply, and have firmer bolsters at the ribcage and under the legs. It's even easy to step into the rear buckets: they skimp very little on leg and head room compared to some other vehicles that get thrown into the same superstar category.

Don't forget to look up. You might be awed by the Wraith's $13,000 Starlight roof, which replaces panoramic glass with a perforated leather-trimmed panel lit by 1,340 fibers affixed by hand to the headliner. The lights vary in intensity, determined by the length and the cross-section of the cut across the fiber itself. Dimmed to dark or lit like a starry night, it's a singular flourish, a toreador cape waved at the luxury makes aiming for Rolls-Royce status--a come at me, bro, delivered in a perfect English accent. 

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