When a decade ago, the CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, announced they were working on a fully electric car, the cynics out there wondered if a Rolls-Royce could be a Rolls-Royce without one of their iconic V12 engines. The Spectre proves not only that this was possible but that an electric Rolls-Royce is exactly what the clients of the prestigious marque were waiting for and one that has brought many new customers to the Rolls-Royce family.
The departure from internal combustion engines (ICE) has been a long time in the making. Sir Henry Royce was an electric engineer and, in 1900, his partner in crime Charles Stewart Rolls, made public his view about the advantages of electric cars versus ICE: “The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration…” Unfortunately, at the time, the range was extremely limited and there were no charging stations anywhere. Hence, the fossil fuel powered car established its hegemony on the roads of the world for more than a century.
Spectre redefines the concept of luxury coupé following the key components at the core of the brand: heritage, craftmanship, and the relationship with their customers. This incredible machine is the result of years of research, and thousands of hours of work by designers, engineers, artisans and craftsmen at Rolls-Royce, all of which started with three pen strokes on a piece of paper.
Rolls-Royce Spectre is the most stylized of all the marque’s models, with a design based on three simple lines and conceived to maximise aerodynamics.
Conceptually, the closest I can think of is Phantom Coupé, but in Spectre, all the proportions have been stretched and dramatized. The three basic lines that underpin the exterior design of Spectre are the top line above the fenders, extending from the front of the bonnet to the rear end; the one from the door handle emphasising the shoulder; and the third, defining the bow and lower waist. The result is an elegant and incredibly aerodynamic shape (drag coefficient of just 0.25cd despite its 23-inch wheels), which, like the Spirit of Ecstasy with its wings against the wind (slightly remodelled to contribute to its aerodynamics), flows gracefully towards the back. The straight upstanding bow line – a trademark of the company – pays homage to its historical design references to the nautical world, so their cars glide through the road as yachts do through water.
On approach, Spectre has a serene, majestic presence that reminds me of a lion resting on the savannah, overlooking its pride. The pantheon grill – the widest ever fitted in a Rolls-Royce – together with the daytime running lights and the Spirit of Ecstasy, form what Director of Design Anders Warming calls “The trinity badge of honour”. Warming also shared that a lot of the inspiration for the design of Spectre came from Sussex’s nature, where their headquarters are located, particularly the series of chalk sea cliffs known as The Seven Sisters. “These cliffs represent what I refer to as sheer surfaces, their serenity being willed over millions of years.”
Rolls-Royce Spectre’s majestic presence is emphasized by subtle exterior design details, such as the wider pantheon grill and the running daylights.
Inside Spectre, one feels cosseted by its interior. Where noble woods combine with soft leathers and artisan finishes to create an inviting environment that reminds of the comfort of a luxury lounge. Everything is tactile, inviting, seductive. I can’t help but running my hands over every single surface of the cabin, enjoying the feeling of each of them and their sound, because yes, materials have sounds, and the silence of Spectre allows you to enjoy them all. Inspired by British tailoring, the new front seat design has lapel sections that can be rendered in contrasting or matching colours. These seats are lower than in other models, contributing to the overall cocooning sensation. A unique illuminated fascia, which incorporates Spectre’s nameplate, is surrounded by a cluster of stars and door panels with thousands of tiny fibre optic lights give the impression at night as if you were flying through a night sky.
The interior of Rolls-Royce Spectre is pure indulgence and luxury. As an example, the front seats, inspired by British tailoring, can be rendered in contrasting or matching colours.
As one would expect, no two Spectres are the same as no two Rolls-Royce clients are the same. Accordingly, the personalisation options are limitless, including the digital display. The love and dedication that the Rolls-Royce team put into the specs of every car are definitely loable; more than 1,000 hours of craftmanship go into every car. But it is not just the worshipping of artisans methods that attract customers to Rolls-Royce. We were told that Spectre is revealing the rise of a new profile of client, younger, self-made, with strong ideas about sustainability and the concept of circularity, factors inline with the forward-thinking mentality of this car, which incorporates several recycled materials and is completely carbon neutral.
Spectre is also the most digital car ever rolling out of their production line at Goodwood. However, aware of the potential for information overload, Rolls-Royce made sure to show only the information that is needed when is needed. It is also the smartest, with a brain (SPIRIT) that has 25 more algorithms than any other car from the marque, and each of them performs about 1,000 functions, ending up with more than 140,000 signals; so, as you can imagine, Spectre is equipped with all the safety features you could imagine, from lane control to collision avoidance, minimisation of pollution through its vents, and so on. You really have to be a very bad driver or be seriously unlucky to crash this car. They call it Decentralised Intelligence and it measures everything, from road type to weather conditions, driving style, you name, the brain of Spectre is taking care of it. There is also the Whispers app, which owners download on their phone and allow them to interact with their car remotely.
Rolls-Royce Spectre Monteverde features seven spoke part, 23” polished wheels, with the central disc in the same colour than the body of the car and pinstripe motif.
Spectre was developed from the beginning as an electric, the fourth model to be built on the Architecture of Luxury platform (unique to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars), deliberately conceived from the outset to accommodate an electric powertrain and a 700kg battery that fits like a glove.
The skeleton of Spectre is all-aluminium, 30 percent stiffer than any other Rolls-Royce (better handling, more durable and probably safer in a crash) but with the flexibility characteristic of this metal. The centre of gravity is ultra-low and the weight of the car perfectly balanced, both key factors affecting its handling. They also lowered the roof line, so overall, the aerodynamics of Spectre are exceptional.
Engine wise, Spectre is fitted with two Separately Excited Synchronous Motors (SSMs). The front electric motor produces 190kW / 365 Nm and the rear one 360kW / 710 Nm. This is the equivalent of an ICE with 584hp and a torque of 900Nm. The range of 530km, although not the biggest in the market, it seems to be as much as Rolls-Royce customers would be ready to drive in one go. Still, Spectre charges from 10 to 80 percent in just over 30 minutes on a fast charger. In nine minutes, it will give you enough juice to drive 100km. So, I don’t foresee range very being a problem here.
DEFINING ELEMENTS OF ROLLS-ROYCE SPECTRE
Driving Spectre feels incredible. As CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös likes to say, “Rolls-Royce cars are pulled by a hook from the sky”. Effortless, but not too much, so you still feel the connection to the road that seems to disappear as if it was thin air and the car a magic carpet – partly thanks to its planar suspension, which was launched with Ghost, and the fact that each wheel acts independently. Silent, but not too much; you are insulated from the exterior but not isolated. Despite its size – almost 5.5metres long and more than two metres wide– Spectre feels nimble and agile, as if it shrank around you, which means that should you put it through its paces, you don’t need to worry about how it is going to handle, even on the most twisty roads. If you are feeling extra lazy, you can always push the “B” button on the Column Shifter, which will increase regenerative braking, enabling single-pedal driving and even allowing the car to come to a complete stop if desired.
A Rolls-Royce has always meant to be a work of art; Spectre certainly is, and as Director of Engineering, Dr Mihai Ayoubi said, “Rolls-Royce Spectre brings the future of this great marque into the present.”
More information about Rolls-Royce Spectre HERE.
Words: Julia Pasarón