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“Baby” Rolls-Royce

In 2012, 56 per cent of Rolls-Royce Ghost buyers chose to customise their cars. The personalised touches offered by the luxury carmaker run the gamut from built-in accessories and wood marquetry finishes, to ceiling lights that mimic the constellations in a given location.

Rolls-Royce cars are the epitome of luxury motoring. The mere mention of its name conjures up an image of a regal automobile with an impeccably dressed chauffeur waiting by its side. But anecdotal evidence shows that most Rollers are self-driven by multiple platinum hip-hop rappers or, in Singapore’s case, the patriarch.

Not that it’s a bad thing. After all, driving one is guaranteed to be an effortless affair as driver and occupants are cocooned in the luxurious confines of a cabin wrapped only in the finest leather that have been hand-stitched to exacting specifications. But “dynamic” was never a word associated with the brand – until recently.

The brand from Goodwood has touted this new “baby” Rolls as the most dynamic and powerful the company has built. Under the long bonnet of the Wraith is a 6.6-litre V12 turbocharged engine. It produces 624 bhp and a whopping 800 Nm of torque that is delivered from a mere 1,500 rpm. It can dash from a standstill to the benchmark 100km/h in 4.6 seconds. Interestingly, Rolls-Royce has avoided using the word “sporty” anywhere to describe this latest model. Not the website, not the brochure and not even the PR folks who were careful to avoid the S-word.

And rightfully so.

Despite the blistering acceleration figures, it never feels thuggish or brutal. It still wafts, albeit really quickly. One would notice, however, that the steering has more bite when tackling corners and the suspension is a tad firmer than any other RRs in the current line-up. Alas, it doesn’t pretend to be a tarmac-scorcher. It just wants to be a 2.5-tonne behemoth that is still athletic enough to stave off chasing paparazzi.

Apart from its eye-raising performance, the Wraith’s sleek roofline defines the proposition of this Grand Tourer. It’s stately, no, make that imposing. It’s not just its physical size, but the upright design of its front facade that exudes power and command. It’s no wonder other drivers turn to gawk as you hurtle past, pedestrians stop in their tracks to stare, and children and their grannies point. This is as much a car to be driving as to be seen in.

The Wraith is currently the smallest Rolls on offer today – but it’s hardly as diminutive size as its name suggests. It is has real estate more expansive than the largest flagship limousines from the Three-Pointed Star, Four Rings or its parent-company with the Blue-Roundel. Even its closest competitor, the Bentley Continental GT Speed, is a good 463mm shorter.

Entry into the cabin is in familiar Rolls-Royce fashion: you step into the car, instead of climbing into the car – thanks to the rear-hinged, frameless coach doors. Accessing the rear seats are also easier with this unique configuration. The doors can be manually pulled shut, or with the aid of a button that shuts the door automatically.

Like all other Rolls models on sale, the Wraith also has the trademark umbrellas hidden in the A-pillars. This is particularly useful for those rainy days without having to wet the thick-pile wool carpets that adorns the floorpan with your soggy brolly.

Such are the subtle details that Rolls-Royce has put into each carefully manufactured automobile.

But other features aren’t as discrete. The Starlight Headliner is a shining example, literally. You can have your own personal starry sky – even in the day – thanks to 1,340 optic fibres sewn into the roof liner.

New to the Wraith is the Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller that allows you to navigate through the entertainment, telephone and navigation systems by swiping your fingers over its surface. An interesting feature hidden in the infotainment system is the Office feature that even boasts a voice recorder that allows you to take notes of your Eureka moment as you are driving.

A less visible technological advancement is the satellite navigation-based transmission that helps the smooth eight-speed gearbox predict the road ahead and chooses the right gear for the terrain. However, this is so technologically advanced that it has to be disabled in countries like South Korea due to national security issues. In Singapore, the lack of detailed GPS data for road inclinations mean that the system is also disabled. Nevertheless, the smooth-shifting transmission is so smooth that you hardly feel the need for any more sophistication, especially on the rather flat roads we have here.

Priced above the million dollar mark, depending on the options you choose, there are few obvious options including out and out hypercars. But there are none that offer such opulence befitting royalty. While self-driving a Rolls-Royce may seem like an absurd notion elsewhere in the world, the unique consumption habits here makes a strong case for the Wraith as its driver-focusedness means you get to luxuriate in the finest motor car and enjoy the drive at the same time.