For luxury automakers with long histories, moving into the modern electric era while retaining their essence may prove to be a real challenge. However, Rolls-Royce appears to have met that challenge on its first go with the all-electric 2024 Spectre.
If there’s any problem with electric vehicles, it’s similar to the 1950s, when power steering was first introduced. Back then, all power steering racks felt the same, all being so light, you could effortlessly turn the wheel with your pinkie finger. Any uniqueness in steering feel took a few years to figure out.
The same is true of many modern EVs. Most electric vehicles have a similar generic feel; it’s going to take most automakers a while to figure out how to imbue these vehicles with their longstanding identities.
One automaker who won’t have to do this is Rolls-Royce. Amazingly, their first EV, the 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre, is not only the first fully electric Rolls-Royce ever produced, but also it feels first and foremost like a Rolls-Royce, one that just happens to be electrically powered.
Grand Touring writ large
The 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre coupe is the first coupe to reach these shores since the 2021 Rolls-Royce Wraith. Certainly its fastback lines recall the Wraith, but at more than 215 inches long and 79 inches wide, the Spectre is closer in size to the Phantom Coupe. But this is among the world’s most prestigious cars, so its design fittingly looms as large as its reputation.
The Spectre’s shape is quintessential Rolls-Royce, with lines that easily accommodate two-toning, which looks especially apropos. The absence of cut lines on its sculptural sheetmetal exquisitely captures and manipulates light, accentuating its overall form. Like the finest hardtops of decades past, the Spectre lacks a B-Pillar. And as you’d expect, the wheel center caps use ball bearings to maintain the Rolls-Royce logo upright, just like every other current Rolls-Royce.
Yet this coupe’s clean, modern form is at once recognizably a Rolls-Royce, but one designed to cheat the wind. Even the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament’s wings have been reangled for better airflow, and it’s not quite as tall as its ancestors. It stands atop the broadest Rolls-Royce grille to ever grace a Rolls-Royce.
A lavish custom cabin
Open the rear-hinged door and you’ll find a lavish cabin for four adults. It is every bit a grand touring coupe. There is no company that crafts interiors as elegantly as Rolls-Royce. Because they are handcrafted, they can be customized, meaning that no two modern Rolls-Royces are alike.
And as part of the company’s Bespoke initiative, customers can now choose the color of the instrument dials for the first time. Regardless of what’s chosen, the carefully constructed interior is awash in wood, leather and chrome. The backseat seatbacks are made from a single piece of leather that wraps seamlessly from the seatback into the side panel. There’s little plastic to be found here — thank goodness.
However, nothing compares to the cabin of a Rolls-Royce. It’s as opulent as any stateroom. Most customers choose to fit the ceiling of their cars with the Starlight headliner, which simulates a starry sky. On the Spectre, it’s now available on the passenger side of the instrument panel as well as the inside door panels of the Spectre. If you’d like, you might choose Canadel paneling instead, which is crafted from your choice of fine hardwoods.
But that’s far from the only unique touch on the Spectre. When the driver initially touches the brake pedal, the driver’s door closes automatically. And who can resist taking off their shoes and running their tootsies through the lamb’s wool carpets?
The new Spectre also gets a redesigned its infotainment system named Spirit. It’s controlled via touchscreen or through a console-mounted controller and category buttons ala BMW. And, with the Rolls-Royce Whispers app, drivers can access the car remotely.
Power? Far more than adequate
For years Rolls-Royce, in a bit of British penchant for understatement, listed its engine output only as “adequate.” It certainly is now.
With a single-speed transmission coupled to two electric motors, the front axle can generate 190 kW of power, while the rear axle can produce 360 kW. Combined output is 584 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels.
This means reaching 60 mph requires a mere 4.2 seconds. With an estimated 264 miles of range, this should be plenty given Rolls-Royce owners drive their vehicles an average of 3,200 miles annually, according to the automaker.
The 102-kWh lithium-ion battery powering the Spectre can be recharged from 10% to 80% in 34 minutes using a 195-kW DC fast charger, according to Rolls-Royce. Moreover, that’s enough to recover a 100-kilometer, or 62-mile, range in just nine minutes.
The Spectre has all of the necessary advanced driver assistance systems, as you would expect. Notably, it lacks any autonomous driving system, since Rolls-Royce refuses to install it until the technology is fully developed.
How it drives
Once you’re behind the wheel, you’ll find the biggest surprise comes as no surprise. That is, this is a Rolls-Royce and, in every way, drives like one. It’s a Rolls-Royce first and an electric car second. Given that, it makes the Spectre the first electric car that’s been able to lose its petrol engine without losing its soul. The Rolls-Royce genetics remain intact in every respect.
Yes, there’s the instantaneous torque you expect from an electric motor, one whose characteristics play into the essential strength of the brand. It’s silent and swift thanks to the lack of gears changes in the one-speed transmission. Its ride is cloud-like in the finest Rolls-Royce tradition, yet it possesses the requisite athleticism.
Throw it into a corner and the 6,371-pound Spectre’s anti-roll bars recouple even as the dampers stiffen and the four-wheel steering activates. It makes this very large coupe easy drive and hustle down your favorite twisting road. Yet as athletic as it can be, it remains unruffled and it ensures that its passengers remain so as well. You’ll never miss the gas engine, or the filling station.
Other parts of this Rolls will be familiar to marque enthusiasts, such as the delicately thin steering wheel and power reserve gauge. For the uninitiated, the power reserve gauge is sort of a backwards tachometer, showing how much engine power is left. From a stop, it shows 100%, gradually declining as speed builds. Odd, but then again, this is a British car.
When it comes to the 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre, the best thing to say about it is that it is every bit a Rolls-Royce— that is, it is an unrivaled automobile. It produces the exact same sensations as a Rolls-Royce with an internal combustion engine — but it’s a battery-electric vehicle. It’s electric, by coincidence.
Its superb choice in an EV.