From V12 to electricity, Rolls-Royce have undertaken their biggest transformation ever. The goal: to make sure things remain the same.
It is always a good day when you have the chance to get behind the wheel of a Rolls-Royce. It’s a great day when you sit behind the wheel of two.
A Rolls-Royce event destined for clients had a slight opening in the schedule, giving a few selected national media outlets the opportunity to drive two very different (are they really?) interpretations of what it means to be a Rolls-Royce.
The main reason for the event was to show the new, fully electric Spectre, the first RR without a petrol engine and the car that demonstrates how the British constructor will make the transition from internal combustion engines to a battery-driven future.
It was very interesting to begin with the V12-powered Cullinan Black Badge as a reference point. Yes, the Cullinan is an SUV and the Spectre a super-coupé, but – apart from their propulsion systems – they are much closer in concept than it looks at first sight.
The introduction of the Black Badge models was (yet another) masterstroke on the part of Rolls-Royce. Aimed at those who want to actually drive their car, the Black Badges have something more to offer in terms of dynamics and driver involvement.
Onto the Cullinan then. However, not by myself. The Resident was able to bring along for the ride a man called Fernando Guerra. Mr. Guerra is one of the best and most celebrated architectural photographers in the world and he happens to sometimes shoot cars on the side. Why? Because he likes to. Fernando is also one of my best friends and I only had to say the words Rolls-Royce for him to say ‘yes’ to my invitation. You make up your mind about the pictures, but I say: not your usual ones, are they?
Anyway, back to the Cullinan. The first SUV from Rolls-Royce has been presented as the model for those who wanted to move from the back to the front seat and relish the magnificent V12. With personalized aesthetic touches, the version’s own wheels and the infinity symbol on the interior separating it from the standard car, the Cullinan Black Badge is easily identifiable.
The biggest differences, however, lay in the driving. The sportier chassis tuning, more powerful brakes, with an improved cooling system and a more immediate pedal response, combined with the introduction of four directional wheels and a revised suspension geometry, transform the experience.
The supreme concept of luxury is still present and there is no doubt the Cullinan Black Badge is a worthy representative of the Rolls-Royce lineage, expressing, as always, a very unique and unparalleled understanding of what it means to be the best automobile in the world.
And wrap your head around this: according to Rolls-Royce, the average age of the Cullinan Black Badge customer is lower than that of a Mini customer. Pretty incredible, right?
Fernando and I parked the Cullinan and entered a brave new world; 123 years before the Spectre launch, in the distant year of 1900, co-founder Charles Rolls prophesied that the future of the automobile would be electric. This solution would be a wholesome fit for Rolls-Royce, due to its smoothness, lack of noise and for presenting itself as a cleaner technology. Rolls-Royce is about effortlessness and as great as the V12 has always been, the inherent characteristics of an electric motor do suit Rolls-Royce to perfection.
Charles Rolls’ vision has finally been materialized in what Rolls-Royce calls an ultra-luxury electric super-coupé and which RR themselves say is the best car they have ever created. A fabulous exercise in automotive design that is the ultimate expression of luxury on wheels, the Spectre has the weight of launching the brand into the future, but without losing sight of the centuries-old identity that is the greatest symbol of an entire industry.
It uses a 102kWh battery with motors on both axles for a combined output of 577 horsepower and 530 km of range. On the road, it’s like no other car: comfort is supreme – even when compared to the Cullinan. The immediate torque gives the Spectre what Rolls-Royce have always strived to achieve: real, tangible effortlessness. The Spectre is the ultimate expression of the concept.
The transition from a noble V12 to electric propulsion is clearly a more natural step for Rolls-Royce than any other manufacturer and driving the Spectre materializes that realisation. Electricity just makes sense. The Spectre feels like any other Rolls-Royce and, at the same time, like no other before it: it’s one of those, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.
It might seem counterintuitive, but Charles Rolls already knew it 120 years ago: electric mobility further enriches and enhances the magic and the individuality of these cars. It’s a natural evolution for Rolls-Royce that ensures the Spirit of Ecstasy will remain the pinnacle of automotive luxury.
As for prices of these two … well … if you have to ask …