A Prophecy Fulfilled Spirit Electrified – Rolls Royce Spectre
Rolls-Royce Spectre EV Is the Brand’s Most Important Car YetThe Spectre promises a 260-mile range, supreme ride quality, and spectacular design touches.
Rolls-Royce has gone through a number of revolutions in the past couple of decades. First was the 2003 Phantom, the first Rolls-Royce developed under BMW’s ownership and the brand’s only truly new model in decades.
The early 2010s brought along the smaller Ghost and sportier Wraith and Dawn models, as well as the debut of the Black Badge models. Then in 2018 came the Cullinan, the first Rolls SUV that became an instant sales success.
But now Rolls-Royce is undergoing its most radical reinvention since its inception in 1906. The brand debuted the Spectre, Rolls-Royce’s first fully electric production car that will go on sale in 2023.
Despite an overall shape and profile akin to the now-dead Wraith, Rolls-Royce describes the Spectre as the spiritual successor to the Phantom Coupe of the 2000s in terms of market positioning, and it’s certainly imposing in size. Its 214.6-inch overall length and 126.3-inch wheelbase are 7.2 and 3.8 inches longer than a Wraith, respectively, while the Phantom Drophead measures 6.2 and 4.4 inches longer in each respect than the Spectre. The Spectre’s fastback roofline is similar to the Wraith’s, but the EV has much more dramatic proportions with a longer hood and rear overhang, with the rear trunklid coming to a sharper point. The Spectre also features the crispest lines and surfacing of any Rolls, with fender lines coming to sharply lit peaks and more drastic shadows falling on the bodywork.
The Spectre has the sleekest interpretation of Rolls-Royce’s Pantheon grille yet, made from a single piece of aluminum and fit nearly flush into the front end. It’s also the widest grille ever on a Rolls, and the inner vanes have a flusher fit that aids with airflow. The hood is topped by a redesigned Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament that helps make the Spectre the most aerodynamic Rolls ever made, with a drag coefficent of 0.26 equalling the radical BMW i8. Rolls-Royce is the latest automaker to go with a split headlight design, but I think it’s effective on the Spectre. A super-thin LED running light is aligned with the top of the grille and fender cutlines, while the main beams are inset below in a sculpted panel. And remember, the 2003 Phantom and its spin-offs had double headlight arrays that seemed weird at first, too. Best of all, the sandblasted vanes of the grille are backlit by 22 LEDs.
The Spectre is built on the same modular Architecture of Luxury platform that has underpinned everything since 2017 from the Cullinan and Ghost to the Phantom and the insane coachbuilt Boat Tail. Rolls-Royce designed the all-aluminum Architecture of Luxury to be ready for fully electric powertrains from the start. The battery is integrated into the structure itself, which makes the Spectre 30% stiffer than any Rolls before it, and the car’s floor is between the sills instead of below or on top. There’s a channel between the battery and floor for wiring and climate control piping, allowing for a lower seating position and a smooth underfloor. The battery also conveniently acts as 1,543 pounds of sound deadening.
All of that serenity comes through to the interior, which takes fewer risks with the overall design — it does need to feel familiar to traditional Rolls-Royce drivers, after all. But as is typical with recent offerings from the Goodwood brand’s modern era, there are more than enough details that have me foaming at the mouth. The dashboard features a mix of real aluminum, leather and wood trim, with traditional design cues like the round metal air vents, physical climate knobs and organ-pull controls intact.
Like the Wraith, the Spectre has a four-seat layout with a fixed rear center console bisecting the sculpted bucket seats. Given the lack of transmission tunnel, it seems physically possible that Rolls-Royce could actually offer a five-seat configuration, which the Wraith and Dawn never had. (The Phantom Coupe and Drophead didn’t, either.) The front seats have a much more modern design inspired by British tailoring, with new lapel sections for added contrast. Where the Spectre’s interior gets really radical is the gauge cluster, which is fully digital for the first time ever. Rolls isn’t talking details yet, but the gauges look modern while paying enough homage to vintage watch-like instruments. And don’t worry, there’s still a physical clock set into the dash next to the large passenger trim panel, which on this Spectre has a fabulous illuminated design.