DRIVEN’s intrepid editor-in-chief recently traveled to Austria to be one of the first in the world to drive the brand-new Rolls-Royce Wraith. You’ve been captivated by Part I, now read on for the conclusion of this automotive adventure…
The next morning, I found myself pacing the lobby and looking anxiously at the clock as journalists in various states of decorous dishevelment came down from breakfast, found their driving companions, and climbed into one of the waiting Wraiths purring politely at the curbside.
Driving the brand-new Rolls-Royce Wraith in the Austrian Alps
My copilot, the infamous Nic Stecher, had missed his plane from LA the previous day, but was due to arrive any minute.
It wasn’t so much that I was in a hurry to depart as that all the best-looking colors were rapidly disappearing from outside the Palais Coburg.
When Nic finally emerged from a quick shower in his suite, the only Wraith left waiting was a marble-ish Carrara white.
Rather more subtle than the two-tone blue and silver job I’d had my eye on, but there would always be the opportunity to switch cars somewhere along the drive route.
Coach doors open to reveals expanses of plush wood and leather
And indeed as we loaded our various cameras and such into the car, the Carrara coupe started to grow on me.
So did the characteristic coach doors—which some insist on referring to as “suicide doors”—which opened to reveal acres of glove-soft leather and expanses of what Rolls-Royce refers to as Canadel Paneling.
The luxurious wood, fitted to the Wraith in unbelievably large sections, is named after the famous cove in the South of France where Sir Henry Royce and his design and engineering teams spent their winters.
On the plus side, Nic was looking decidedly sleepy. With any luck, he’d need to take a nap and yours truly could take the wheel for the lion’s share of the 150 km up through the Alps to our lunch stop.
I took the wheel for the 150 km route to a luxurious lunch
Which is exactly what happened.
On any trip of this kind, we usually size up the obstacles in advance.
As such, we’d learned that the Bundespolizei or Austrian Federal Police fleet consists of Audi wagons, Volkswagen vans and the occasional BMW motorbike.
In other words, nothing that could so much as smell the smoke off a 624 hp Rolls-Royce.
The Austrian police force fleet of VWs didn’t stand a chance
Of course, there were 20,000 of them and only two of us.
But driving a Rolls just isn’t like that.
Excessive speed is used only when the occasion demands it, in as gentlemanly a fashion as possible.
Whether or not the lady and the Grand Cuvée are actually in the car, the code of Rolls, much like the code of the Woosters, requires that one always behave as if they were.
Always drive as if you had a lady and some champagne riding shotgun
To be quite frank, I would have preferred Kate Moss to Nic for the sake of verisimilitude, but the principle stands.
And so we sped off to Steirereck am Pogusch, a perfectly charming country inn with a world-class restaurant nestled in the Styrian Alps, in a perfectly civilized manner.
I pressed the pedal a trifle too animatedly on occasion, but the Wraith was good enough to ignore these brief lapses with a little rise of the “Power Reserve” indicator as eloquent as any of Jeeves’s famed lifts of the eyebrows.
In place of an ungentlemanly tachometer, the power reserve gauge indicates how much of the V12’s output is being employed at any given moment.
Away from importunate road noises or cursing peasants en route
Suffice to say, there is always plenty to spare.
In any case, Stecher snoozed contentedly throughout, thanks to the legendary Rolls “magic carpet ride” and the cabin’s perfect insulation from any importunate road noises or cursing peasants en route.
He would no doubt claim to be testing the Wraith’s comfort quotient in the interests of his more sedentary readers.
Lunch was of course another tour de force of Austrian cuisine and luxurious indulgence, albeit with a rustic air, and once various herbal teas and petit fours had been consumed, I contrived to switch cars with another pair of journos.
Clutching the keys to the Salamanca blue and Jubilee Silver stunner
And with a bit of quick footwork, we were soon clutching the keys to the Salamanca blue and Jubilee Silver stunner I’d been eyeing lasciviously ever since arriving in Vienna.
This of course caused Nic to suddenly be wide awake and noting that I’d done most of the driving so far.
And so I was relegated to the passenger seat as he did his best to ignore the principles of gentlemanly driving I’d established on the journey up.
It did, however, afford an opportunity to test out the Wraith’s new Satellite Aided Transmission system, which uses GPS mapping data to ensure the correct gear is always preselected for the road terrain ahead.
He did his best to ignore my principles of gentlemanly driving
Even with such features in place, on a few picturesque and rather windy Alpine passes, we did manage to exercise the Wraith to a certain degree.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say its feathers were ruffled, but the muffled squeak of the tires on a couple of the more treacherous curves did sound a trifle peevish.
Rain splashed impudently, leaving little muddy streaks on our coachwork.
I half expected the onboard voice-activation system to cough suggestively—with an Oxford accent, of course.
Waiting for the onboard voice-activation system to cough suggestively
Pretty soon, Nic declared himself satisfied with the Wraith’s grace under pressure, as it were, and also declared that he needed another nap.
And so I Salamanca’d into Vienna in high style, noting the location of a couple burlesque joints for later reference, while he caught up on his beauty sleep.
Which was just as well as a big night on the town awaited us, but since he was snoozing anyway, I decided to take a few detours along Vienna’s stately boulevards.
We could have been Mozart returning home after a hard day’s composing
They seemed to have put most of the pretty girls away for safekeeping but the Wraith received as warm a reception as if it had been Mozart’s coach and four returning the celebrated maestro to his rooms after a hard day’s composing.
Merely returning us to the hotel was probably a bit beneath its dignity—but the Wraith was of course far too well-bred to show it…
- Posted October 07, 2013
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