“I am rich. Incredibly, unimaginably rich. I can afford a Rolls Royce and today I shall go and buy one of these fine British motor cars for my own vehicular enjoyment!” That’s what I keep telling myself while on the way to the location of my latest story, the Rolls Royce Motor Cars dealership in BGC. Sadly, in reality I am light-years away from the kind of bank balance you need to buy such a palace on wheels, but for this story I want to imagine what it’s like to be a Rolls Royce customer. I want to try and get into the frame of mind of someone who doesn’t have to worry about the price tag, but whose biggest concern instead is what leather, wood and color combinations to choose.
The initial idea for this story then was to write a lifestyle-focused article about the car and brand, to imagine what it must be like to be a buyer, and to discuss how and where such opulence fits in the Philippines of today. Having spent an afternoon with this magnificent machine, I realize that this isn’t just a lifestyle car; it’s a way of life. This is a car for people who appreciate attention to detail and who strive for perfection in everything they do. People who will notice that the RR logo on the hubcaps always stays the right way up, even while driving. People who like the fact that the car’s air condition speed controls have a setting called “Soft” (presumably because you never call anything on a Rolls Royce “Low”) and that the hand crafted button for it is so shiny, the cabin is reflected in it. People who take pleasure from noticing just how utterly perfect the craftsmanship is. While taking shots of the interior, I literally went round the cabin with a magnifying glass trying to find flaws. Trying to find anything that’s not been assembled, stitched or fitted with the utmost attention to detail. Nothing, I found absolutely nothing. Not a single leather stitch out of place, not a single panel misaligned by even the slightest of margins, and not a single noticeable flaw ever filling the viewfinder of the camera. I have a suspicion Rolls Royce quality control likes to employ staff with OCD, because this level of perfection and attention to detail is simply astonishing.
Then there’s the ride. Oh my, that ride. In the olden days, Rolls Royce never published exact figures as to the number of horses installed under the bonnet. Instead, the company would only quote horsepower figures as being “adequate” for the task at hand. That has changed and these days the company will freely quote performance figures, which for the beautiful Silver and Salamanca Blue Rolls Royce Wraith used on the day lie at 624hp and 800Nm of torque. Press the Start button and these 624 stallions spring to life with more choreography and sophistication than the Queen's Horse Guards in London, while performing their duties with equal discipline and well trained perfection. When idling or just rolling around town, the engine is barely noticeable. It’s there, but it would never dare to unduly alert the driver to its presence. Only when you move the right pedal a lot closer to the lush carpet will it become more audible, but never rude or noisy. It’s like the engine is trying to say “Ok, we shall go at an advanced pace if we must, but allow me to do so politely.”
As trying to reach the electronically limited top speed of 250kph on the streets of BGC didn’t seem like a good idea, we chose to travel around at a more leisurely pace while soaking up the attention this vehicle inevitably attracts. If you are in the market for a Wraith, I would recommend also taking a first aid course at the same time: People have a tendency to walk into lamp posts when they see you driving by, and this way you will be better equipped to assist.
‘Driving’ isn’t even the right word to use for this car. The Wraith comes with electronically controlled air suspension for what Rolls Royce calls their “signature magic carpet ride”. Marketing people often like to exaggerate on these things, but in this particular case the description is quite accurate. The Wraith doesn’t drive around town, it floats. Traveling in its beautifully crafted cabin, surrounded by the finest leather and the unique smell that only cars like this have, you feel utterly removed from the outside world. In normal inner-city operation, your journey takes place in almost complete silence. There are no bumps, no squeaks, no rattling or other unwanted noises of any kind. The car would never allow for that, and like a four wheeled gentleman seems to throw its magic air suspension coat over any potholes and puddles along the way, always ensuring that passengers remain comfortable and undisturbed. This kind of ride comfort really is extraordinary and shows just what is possible when you follow the words of company co-founder Henry Royce, who famously said ‘Take the best that exists and make it better: when it does not exist, design it.’
Rolls Royce truly has designed something here that can proudly be described as one of the best motor cars money can buy. While I have completely failed in writing a lifestyle article that also discusses the influence of luxury brands on socio-economic factors within the Philippine macro-economic system, the Wraith has succeeded in pulling me in his ban and letting me forget what I actually set out to do. It’s a mesmerizing car, created by skilled craftsmen in the pursuit of perfection. At times, it felt like it was not even from this world, which maybe shouldn’t be surprising: Wraith is an old Scottish word for "ghost" or "spirit", and every last bit of me hopes that one day, this particular spirit will be allowed to haunt my garage.