Rolls-Royce Spectre testdrive: Nothing but Superlatives

The Spectre, the first fully electric Rolls-Royce ever, not only marks the beginning of a new era for the British carmaker – by the end of this decade, its entire range will be electrically powered – it also introduces a completely new class of cars: the ultra-luxurious electric super coupé. We found out what such a car drives like during the very first winter drive along the Tegern and Sylvenstein lakes in the Bavarian Alps.

Text Anja Van Der Borght – Photos by Frederick Unflath

Lake Tegern – just under an hour’s drive from Munich airport – is an outright magical place. When we take a walk there in the evening, the setting sun reflects in the water in an unparalleled way. An equally fascinating sparkle is encountered when we open the door of the new Rolls-Royce Spectre the next morning. The two-door coupé is equipped with the most advanced bespoke technological features to date and, as the very first Rolls available with Starlight Doors, i.e., 4,796 gently glowing ‘stars’ on the door panels. Alternatively, you can opt for a Canadel panel made of solid noble wood, placed at a precise angle of 55 degrees to evoke a sense of motion in the Spectre. An option that beautifully complements the door armrest surrounded by light, appearing to float.

Forty percent of customers are buying their very first Rolls-Royce with the Spectre.

Where Artwork Meets Engineering
Rolls-Royce did not choose this region of lakes by chance for its winter drive. Anders Warming, Director of Design at Rolls-Royce, talks about ‘Islands in a Lake’ when discussing the design of the Spectre. “It refers to the deliberate distance we maintained between the taillight element and the nearest cut line. This creates a sense of visual solidity and alludes to our Rolls-Royce design principle ‘Sheer Monolithic Beauty,’ a sense of calm and reduction that amplifies the principle of ultimate luxury.” The new slightly protruding taillights are bold, but we are much more impressed by the majestic grille; the widest Pantheon grille ever on a Rolls-Royce and synonymous with an extraordinary sense of power. The grille slats (named after the temple in Rome they are inspired by) are even smoother and more finely tuned to better direct air around the front of the car. Equally imposing are the suicide doors that, as usual, hinge at the B-pillar, opening in reverse. At 1.5 meters, they are the widest ever on a Rolls-Royce and make entering and exiting even easier, as we find. “I love every part of the Spectre,” says Warming, “so it’s hard to pick just one favorite element. But if I must, then I’m particularly proud that our design team, together with the dedicated Rolls-Royce engineers, created the longest, most grandiose coach door ever on a Rolls-Royce, crafted to perfection. The enormous size and scope of this aluminum door is a true work of art!” These wide doors do what all Rolls-Royce doors do. Once you close them – which can be done electrically with a button on the center console – you enter another dimension, as if you’ve turned on the ‘noise cancelling’ of your headset. During our test drive, it quickly becomes apparent that the Spectre is even quieter than its predecessors. The battery plays a role in this. It is integrated into the structure in such a way that it acts as 700 kilos of additional sound insulation. In addition, it allows for a low seating position, a cocoon-like cabin, and a very rigid platform; 30 percent more rigid than any other Rolls-Royce. Combined with the electric drive and the optimized proactively responsive Planar suspension with air springs, it elevates the ‘waftability’ and the ‘magic carpet ride’ to an even higher level. The driving comfort is fantastic. The Spectre seems to float over the road like a flying carpet. We are also impressed by the direct steering feel and the agility with which we navigate the Spectre through the curves. It may not be a sports coupé, but we don’t at all feel like we’re driving such a large car while inside we enjoy plenty of space, even in the back seat. Everything is large and spacious in the Spectre except for the infotainment screen, which is relatively small but not bothersome. On the contrary, it does not interrupt the atmosphere of artisan-crafted leathers and wood. From now on, you can also adjust the gauges of your digital dashboard to the color of your car’s leather. New is also the ability to close the driver’s side door by pressing the brake pedal. And that can even happen while someone is chatting with you in the doorway. They’ll just get a gentle nudge from the door, without any bruises.

Sunnies by Silhouette.

“First and foremost, the Spectre is a Rolls-Royce, only secondarily an electric car.”

Visionary Minds
“Electrification is not new to Rolls-Royce,” explains Claudia Cowley, Production Manager of the Spectre. “In the early 1900s, Henry Royce already displayed a great passion for everything electric and developed electric motors for cranes. But it was Charles Royce who was convinced that electric cars would one day become enormously popular and that they would fit well with Rolls-Royce as a brand. He even predicted that the electric car would be quiet and clean, odorless, free from vibrations, and especially useful if a network of fixed charging stations were built. Now, 120 years later, we are fulfilling his prediction with the introduction of the Spectre, the spiritual successor to the Phantom Coupé. We wanted our first electric car to evoke a lot of emotions, and the Architecture of Luxury platform allowed us to do that. The flexibility of this aluminum platform, on which all Rolls-Royces are built and which was designed from the start with electric drive in mind, allowed the designers to create a very spacious coupé with beautiful proportions and a dramatic fastback silhouette that references the most imaginative cars and vessels in history.” The coupé’s simple lines are particularly suited to a two-tone body, and the seamlessness of the glasswork significantly contributes to the lowest drag coefficient ever for a Rolls-Royce: 0.25 cd. The Spirit of Ecstasy, the female figure on the hood, was fine-tuned for this as well. Aficionados will notice that she has a slightly different shape and is lower. She leans a bit more forward, and her wings stretch more to the back, making her more aerodynamic. The result of 830 hours of modeling and wind tunnel tests. In the two years leading up to its introduction, the Spectre underwent a rigorous testing program of more than 2.5 million kilometers. Engineers spent no less than 50,000 hours in the driver’s seat to analyze and tune the driving characteristics to the famous Rolls-Royce ‘magic carpet ride.’ In short, the Spectre underwent the most challenging testing program ever undertaken by the brand. Precisely 1,500 hours of that were dedicated to refining the regenerative braking. The regenerative brake function is operated via a ‘B’ button on the shift lever on the steering wheel. From the moment we activate the function, the Spectre goes into one-pedal drive mode and immediately starts braking the moment we release the accelerator. It does so smoothly, effortlessly yet noticeably. Not abrupt or annoying as we’ve sometimes experienced with other electric cars.

Rolls-Royce currently produces 6,000 cars, 30 to 40 percent of which will in the future leave the workshop under the Spectre label in Goodwood, England.

On Thin Ice The Spectre weighs 2,890 kilos, and we feel that when it starts to slide on a treacherous surface of ice. With some countersteering, we manage to keep it nicely under control. The usable power of 584 hp and 900 Nm from the two motors (190 kW and 365 Nm at the front – 360 kW and 710 Nm at the rear) is then sent to all four wheels, and – thankfully – we are on winter tires! Once past the ice and snow surfaces in the Alps, we can press the accelerator a bit more. Naturally, the way the Spectre ‘wafts’ away – as with every Rolls-Royce – is impressive, but since this is an electric Rolls-Royce that releases its torque instantly, we hadn’t expected anything less. The Spectre completes the sprint to 100 km/h in an impressive 4.5 seconds, its driving range is 530 kilometers, and the average consumption is 21.5 kWh/100 km (WLTP). We noted an average test consumption of 24.3 kWh. Of course, the Spectre has a large battery (102 kWh) available for this. With 195 kW charging, you can charge it from 10 to 80 percent in half an hour. To fully charge it, you would need a home charger of 22 kW for 5.5 hours. No buyer will dwell on these figures because, as they say at Rolls-Royce: the Spectre is first and foremost a Rolls-Royce and only secondarily an electric car. Starting price from 396,275 euros (for Belgium).

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