Test Drive: Electric Rolls-Royce Is Still A Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce Spectre

Rolls-Royce Ghost

Editor's Note: This story ran in an earlier edition

I’m often asked what it’s like driving an electric vehicle vs. a gas-powered version of the same model. 

It’s usually quite easy to describe the points of distinction. EVs are quieter and more powerful than their ICE (internal combustion engine) counterparts. The feeling you get when you press down hard on the accelerator is akin to a rocket taking off. 

Not so with the Rolls-Royce Spectre — which speaks to the power and quiet that was already standard in its larger four-door gas-powered sibling, the Ghost.  

The Spectre (a two-door coupe) really is a Rolls-Royce first and an electric car second. No concessions or compromises in terms of interior space, comfort, performance or ride quality have been made. 

Actually, all have been refined and augmented by the car’s underpinning architecture and engineering.

I recently had the chance to drive both vehicles back-to-back in a comparison, and they felt more alike than different. I drove the Spectre in part because it is a candidate in the “Exclusive Car” category for the Women’s World Car of the Year, for which I am a judge. 

When it comes to these two models, my description tends to be similar: elegant, fine craftsmanship, smooth, peaceful. Both vehicles envelop you in an interior that has so much attention to detail you’d think you'd feel overstimulated, but it’s the exact opposite. 

There’s something about getting behind the steering wheel and driving a Rolls-Royce that immediately fills you with a sense of  serenity. Even one of my more intense colleagues, who is normally high energy and talks fast, says she felt like she was inexplicably taking it down a few notches after a short time behind the wheel. 

Of course there’s a hefty price tag for these good feelings. 

The Spectre has a base price of $420,000; the vehicle I test drove retails for $563,125. The Ghost, on the other hand, starts at $348,500, and the model I drove retails for $406,300. 

Interior style options on the Ghost included a technical bespoke clock ($4,650) and thicker two-toned steering wheel in cashmere grey ($3,650). Both vehicles have a lot of actual wood. Rolls Royce uses a single tree for one of its cars so that the graining and pattern can stay consistent across every surface.

Unlike the Spectre, the Ghost price includes a $2,600 gas guzzler surcharge. The massive 6.75L V12 Twin Turbo-charged engine generates 563 horsepower and 664 foot-pound of torque. It’s not great for the environment, but the 14 combined miles per gallon is similar to a a lot of large SUVs and pickup trucks.

Alternatively, the Spectre provides 430 kW or 584 horsepower and 900 Newton-meters of torque (One foot-pound is equal to 1.356 Newton-meters so about 665 foot-pound — very similar to the Ghost in terms of power.)

A fun fact: the 3-inch Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament is mounted on a spring-loaded mechanism designed to retract instantly if struck from any direction. It’s a safety consideration -- but the result is, if someone tries to steal it, they are likely to end up with a broken finger. 

Something you don’t see in any other vehicle model on the road are two beautiful full-size umbrellas that cleverly fit into a compartment inside each door. Those will set you back $700 each. 

A hallmark of all Rolls-Royce vehicles, the design of the umbrella for the Spectre has been reimagined and is only available for the first year of the EV’s launch. It features  a quote from co-founder Charles Rolls regarding his vision of the future of electric motor cars. 

Roughly 123 years ago, he said, “The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration. They should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged.” 

Those words were prophetic. By the end of 2030, the brand's entire product portfolio will be fully electric. Rolls-Royce will never again produce a new model with an internal combustion engine.

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