The $400,000 Rolls-Royce Wraith is a car with no rivals

The Rolls-Royce Wraith quite unlike any car in the world. As the adage goes, “A Rolls-Royce is a car you don’t drive. It’s a car in which you are driven.” That may have been this case during the days of “Downton Abbey,” but things have certainly changed.

With the two-door Wraith, you have a Rolls-Royce that’s designed to be driven — and driven at high speed. Don’t be mistaken, the Wraith isn’t a spritely Lotus-esque English sports car. If you’re expecting a bigger Elise with a leather-lined cockpit, you will be disappointed. On the other hand, it’s far from a grand luxury limousine. This Rolls falls somewhere in the between the two extremes.

Earlier this year, Business Insider spent a few days behind the the wheels of a 2015 Rolls-Royce Wraith, clad in a resplendent Royal Blue livery.

The Wraith isn't the first Rolls-Royce we've driven, but It's certainly the most memorable.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

At the beginning of the year, we spent a few winter days behind of the wheel of the company's plush Ghost Series II sedan. It's possibly the most refined car I've ever driven.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The Wraith currently sits in the middle of the of the Rolls-Royce lineup along with ...

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... the less-powerful, but equally attractive Dawn convertible.

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The Ghost sedan remains the company's entry level model while ...

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

... the Phantom sedan ...

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... Coupe and ...

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... Drophead Coupe sit atop the product hierarchy.

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With the Wraith, Rolls has taken the epically good Ghost sedan as a starting point and added more power and a stylish coupe body. This middle child is a real star performer.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Like the Ghost, the Wraith is powered by a 6.6-litre, twin-turbocharged, aluminium-alloy, V12 engine borrowed from parent company BMW. This time around, the silky-smooth engine pumps out an impressive 624 horsepower and 590 lb. ft. of torque.

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According to Rolls, its luxo-coupe is capable of sprinting to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. Top speed (electronically limited) is 155 mph.

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That's Lamborghini Huracan power and ...

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

... Porsche 911-type speed ...

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... In a car that weighs nearly as much as a Cadillac Escalade. In case you're wondering, the Wraith tips the scales at 5,380 pounds.

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This makes the Wraith the fastest and most powerful Rolls-Royce production car ever produced.

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But the Wraith's performance numbers, when taken into perspective, are not groundbreaking.

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Heck, you could easily make the argument that a Hemi-powered Dodge Challenger could match the Wraith's performance figures at a mere fraction of the price. And you'd be correct ... to a certain extent.

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With a base price of $294,000, the Wraith is far from a performance bargain. (Our test car came out to $390,000 with options.) But buying a Wraith for the sole purpose of going fast is like buying Rolex to use as a stopwatch. You're missing out on what makes the car special.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

What makes the Rolls-Royce Wraith so spectacularly impressive is not the performance peaks it's able to reach, but rather the breathtaking way it achieves them.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

I experienced this firsthand as I drove our test car through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania -- Amish country.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Under hard acceleration, the Wraith doesn't knock you back in your seat. Like a rolling wave in the deep blue sea, the Wraith gathers speed effortlessly. Instead of fighting the laws of physics, it seems as if the Rolls has convinced them to come along for the ride.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

At idle, the potent V12 engine is so smooth and quiet that I had to tap the gas pedal just to make sure the motor was running.

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On the winding country roads of Pennsylvania, the Wraith glided over the crest of every hill with an elegance only a Rolls-Royce can convey.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

On the highway, the occupants are isolated from any sensation of speed -- or any of the harshness of the outside world.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The car achieves all this whether it's travelling at 20 mph or whatever the posted speed limit may be.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Much of the car's velvety power delivery can be attributed to its 8-speed satellite assisted transmission, which uses GPS data of the upcoming terrain to make gear selection decisions.

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Open up the Wraith's power-operated rear-hinged doors and ...

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... be prepared to feel special.

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As expected with any vehicle carrying the Rolls-Royce name, the interior of the Wraith is covered in plush leather and rich wood paneling.

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In fact, the grain on the car's Canadel wood panelling is all oriented at a uniform 55 degrees. Now that's obsessive attention to detail!

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The Wraith's cashmere headliner can be fitted with 1,340 optic fibres that can emulate virtually any constellation the owner desires.

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And you can't forget about the monogramed headrests!

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Up front, the Wraith's cockpit is nearly identical to that of the Ghost sedan.

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In traditional Rolls fashion, the Wraith features an analogue instrument cluster.

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Instead of a tachometer, the coupe boasts Rolls' signature 'Power Reserve Meter,' seen here on the Ghost.

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Like other BMW Group products, the Wraith is equipped with a version of the company's iDrive infotainment system. This is not a well-liked system, but over the years, critics have gotten used to it. It works well enough.

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The Wraith is even equipped with night vision camera! Perfect for avoiding stray deer while driving through the English countryside!

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

On the dash, there's an old-school analogue clock.

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In back, rear passengers are treated to the same cosseting experience as their compatriots in the front the seats, minus a bit of space.

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On the nose of the car, Rolls-Royce's Spirit of Ecstasy emblem has its own spot light.

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All Wraiths are assembled by hand at Rolls-Royce's factory in Goodwood, England. Although 75% of its parts are imported from Germany.

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The Rolls-Royce Wraith is quite unlike anything I've ever driven. Even for Rolls-Royce -- a company that takes pride in offering an exquisite driving experience -- the Wraith's combination of refined, luxury-coupe packaging and muscle-car performance is unique.

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It is a thoroughly modern luxury coupe that remains faithful to Rolls-Royce's tradition values of refinement, elegance, and luxury.

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Other cars in the segment include ...

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

... The Bentley Continental GT, an athletic sports coupe with aspirations of becoming a Le Mans race car.

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The Aston Martin Vanquish is a bully in a Saville Row suite that's more supercar than soft high-speed cruiser.

Aston Martin

The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta is 100% pure Italian V12 supercar with a GT body.

Alex Davies / Business Insider

But the reality is that this is a car with no true direct competitor. That's an odd thing in the auto industry.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

And it will probably stay that way -- until Rolls-Royce unveils a next-generation Wraith!

Rolls-Royce

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