The Wraith of God: A Prose Poem to a Rolls-Royce Fastback

The Wraith's combination of power and luxury could jolly well redefine wealth.
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The Wraith's combination of power and luxury could jolly well redefine wealth.
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Rolls-Royce is so obsessed with ef­­fortless propulsion that they invented a word for it. “Waftability,” ideally uttered with an Edwardian inflection, describes the whooshy sensation of forward motion in utmost silence and luxury. But when Rolls decked out the Wraith, they fitted this sensory deprivation tank on wheels with their most powerful motor ever: a twin-turbocharged V12 that spins a 624 horsepower yarn entwined with 590 lb-ft of torque. This 2.5-ton land yacht fires like a silent surface-to-surface missile.

It’s an unlikely combination: mammoth power and extensive sound insulation. The Wraith does indeed waft itself ahead with a light nudge of the throttle, its rakish cabin harboring a menagerie of delicate, visually tasty distractions. To wit: here’s the lush expanse of Canadel open grain wood panels across the power-operated suicide doors, their grain angled at 55 degrees to convey a sense of movement; a Power Reserve gauge in place of a tachometer that reveals the twelve cylinders’ remaining mojo on a scale of 0 to 100%; crystalline pushbuttons, cool-to-the-touch metal A/C vents, and an available Starlight headliner, which bathes the interior in a glowing wash of photons via 1,340 fiber optic pinholes arranged like the night sky. Apparently, it’s good to be rich.

Weird thing is, the Wraith feels limber with a whisper of the right pedal, but downright Olympic with a slightly more assertive press of your Donald J. Pliner, which summons a subtle hum from the powerplant while not-so-subtly pinning you against your throne. The 8-speed transmission always seems to be in the right gear, not just because the 12-banger generates oodles of torque at nearly any rpm, but also thanks to the world’s first GPS-aided gearbox that “sees” the tightness and incline of the road ahead, timing upshifts and downshifts accordingly.

As you might expect from a sled with a starting price of $284,900 and a Spirit of Ecstasy figurine on the bonnet, this Roller immerses you in a sea of tranquility, cloistered from the unwashed masses within a fortress of hand-rubbed paint, double-paned glass, and palpable imperiousness. If you’re the sort to empathize with those less fortunate souls who can’t afford to set sail aboard the S.S. Waft, those sensations can feel oddly unsettling (or downright guilty). But for the plutocrats, oligarchs, and celebutantes who nestle their butts behind the Wraith’s “RR”-inscripted steering wheel, it becomes perfectly comprehensible that a better world is just a push of the gas pedal away.

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