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17 December 2013

Rock and Rolls  

The adjectives usually invoked to describe a Rolls-Royce tend toward "smooth" and "stately" rather than "vibrant" or "muscular." But the new two-door grand-touring coupé, the Wraith, is a timely reminder that a century ago the brand’s reputation was built on its successes in racing contests like the first Spanish Grand Prix and Austria’s 3,000-kilometer Alpine Trial.

Expected to be available in mid-2014, the Wraith boasts a sporty sloping roofline and a beefy forward section with a twin-turbo V12 engine producing 624 horsepower and accelerating to 100 km/h in less than five seconds.

But the Wraith lacks none of the refined comfort, including trademark wood accents and glove-soft leather upholstery, associated with the Rolls-Royce name. Its two doors open from the front and close with the push of a button. An electronic valet answers to voice commands, provides driving directions and transmits dictated texts or emails via an onboard WiFi hotspot.

Like all Rolls-Royces, the Wraith offers practically endless bespoke touches, like an optional "sky roof" that creates the illusion of a starry night sky thanks to a network of 1,340 fiber-optic lights and helps to bump up the price from €245,000 for the basic model.

It also features state-of-the art technology like an eight-speed automatic transmission that uses GPS signals to choose the proper gear for the road ahead. If the driver is approaching a sharp turn or entering a freeway ramp, the Wraith’s transmission adjusts automatically.

In the decade since BMW bought Rolls-Royce, the automaker has added German precision and technological prowess, a strategy exemplified by the Wraith’s marriage of comfort and performance.