A historic moment to be savoured in exceedingly lush and luxurious surrounds. That is, ostensibly, how Rolls-Royce intended for journalists from around the world to experience first-hand the first electric Rolls-Royce in history.
Last year, it was in the South of France that the British marque introduced the new Phantom Series II, with Nice and Monaco providing a spectacular backdrop for the drive. This year, it’s in Napa Valley that we were handed the keys to Spectre to test-drive the world’s first ultra-luxury electric super coupé through wine country in the California sunshine over the summer, ahead of customer deliveries slated to begin in Q4 this year.
“It’s quite a historic moment for the brand,” Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös tells me during an intimate chat following my drive. We’re at the Four Seasons Resort and throughout the three-day event, we also have the pleasure of meeting several key members of Rolls-Royce’s C-suite team for the company, including Anders Warming, director of design, and Dr. Mihiar Ayoubi, director of engineering.
All agree on how Spectre is a game-changer for the brand. It heralds a new electric era that will see Rolls-Royce — owned by BMW Group — produce only electric cars by the end of the decade. Positioned (and priced) between the Cullinan SUV and the Phantom flagship in the Rolls-Royce ensemble, Spectre has brought a significant number of new clients to the Rolls-Royce brand, according to Müller-Ötvös.
“When we launched (new cars) like the Cullinan in the past, about 20 per cent were new clients. With Spectre, it’s 40 per cent and that’s really amazing,” he revealed. Demand is reportedly so strong that there’s already a two-year wait for the two-door, four-seater coupé.
The world’s longest range EV
When Rolls-Royce set out to create its first electric car, the mandate was that it had to be a Rolls-Royce first and an electric car second. After all, a brand at the very pinnacle of automotive excellence, luxury, and performance has to remain at the very pinnacle of automotive excellence, luxury, and performance — without compromise.
We are therefore pleased to report that Spectre represents a triumph on many fronts, and Charles Rolls himself would probably approve of the new era-defining icon. In the year 1900, the Rolls-Royce co-founder had already prophesied an electric future for the world and, more than a century later, his vision has finally materialised, embodied in Spectre.
Ironically, though, electrification turns out to be the one thing that could make a Rolls-Royce even more of a Rolls-Royce. On the roads, it’s even more silent in the cabin; it’s almost eerie, really. And behind the wheel, Spectre glides gorgeously for even more of that fabled Rolls-Royce “magic carpet ride” feel the company keeps trumpeting.
It’s an altogether sublime ride powered by two electric motors that together produce an equivalent of 429.5kw and 900Nm of torque, which propel this very distinguished beast up to 100kmh in just 4.5 seconds.
In line with its sustainable ethos of emissions-free mobility, the battery is made using cobalt and lithium from strictly controlled sources in Australia, Morocco, and Argentina, and the battery cells are produced using 100 per cent green electricity.
Spectre also has the honour of being the world’s longest range electric vehicle on the market, with a range of 530km. Not that the average Rolls-Royce client would typically need that large a range, as, according to Rolls-Royce statisticians, Rolls-Royce owners have, on average, more than seven cars in their garage to choose from any day of the week.
Matching the brilliance of Spectre’s drive dynamics is its aerodynamic fastback design; striking in its magnificence and drawing inspiration from realms far beyond automotive, including haute couture, yacht styling, modernist sculpture, and contemporary art.
Its iconic Pantheon grille is the widest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce, on which sits a redesigned Spirit of Ecstasy figurine flaunting a lower stance and more aerodynamic profile that helps reduce the car’s drag coefficient to just 0.25cd, making Spectre the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever built.
And to match Spectre’s generous proportions, this is the first production Rolls-Royce two-door coupé to be equipped with 23-inch wheels in almost 100 years. Another first on a Rolls-Royce are the new Starlight Doors, which sparkle with a total of 4,796 softly illuminated “stars” to complement Rolls-Royce’s signature Starlight Headliner roof feature.
The magic does not stop there. The celestial theme continues with Spectre’s Illuminated Fascia, which features a cluster of another 5,500 “stars” on the passenger side of the dashboard.
The Spectre may be the most digitally connected Rolls-Royce in history, but it’s somewhat of a relief to find the interior not overloaded with tech and neverending screenery. It’s still all very classy and elegant for an EV, thank you very much.
They say every Rolls-Royce is a bespoke creation, and the Spectre is no exception. With its interior as a canvas, Rolls-Royce designers will happily embark on a bespoke journey of co-creation with you. One can only imagine what a beautiful journey that would be as I take in more of Napa’s picturesque scenery from the backseat of the Rolls.