The Rolls-Royce Wraith is a car of considerable allure and significance. This, in our view, is certainly the most important new model that this blue-blooded British car maker has created since the modern Phantom in 2002.

The Phantom was a watershed, ushering the Goodwood-based firm into a new, successful era. Sure, in 2010 the Ghost brought in fresh buyers – but largely by miniaturising, de-formalising and slightly discounting the Phantom’s concept.

There have been plenty of Phantom-based and Ghost-based derivatives, of course.

But the Wraith is a true ground-breaker – not only the most powerful car in Rolls’ history but also the closest thing to a sports car that it has ever attempted to produce.

‘Wraith’ was first used on a Rolls-Royce in 1938, but the company’s cars were making a name for themselves as world-beating racing machines decades earlier.

Founder Charles Rolls won the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy in 1906 in a Light Twenty, for instance, and in 1913 Don Carlos de Salamanca won the first ever Spanish Grand Prix in a Silver Ghost. The current Ghost saloon — the car from which the Wraith is effectively adapted — was launched in 2010

Rolls-Royce describes this 624bhp, £230k two-door Wraith as a debonair gentleman’s GT – highly refined, luxurious and exclusive like its stablemates, but more dramatic and exciting than any of them.

In 110 years, there has never been such a thing as ‘just another Rolls-Royce’, but even in that rarefied context, the Wraith promises to be something very special indeed.

Top 5 Ultimate luxury

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    13 October 2015
    Distinctive DS hatchback gets revamped styling and new options, but the facelift fails to address the previous version's major issues
  • First Drive
    8 October 2015
    The greatest driver’s Boxster ever, and far enough removed from the GTS to be worth the compromises its complex hood demands
  • Car review
    7 October 2015
    Does the Zenos E10 have enough to oust Caterham and Lotus off their throne
  • First Drive
    7 October 2015
    Performance diesel variant of Audi's fifth-generation A4 is effortlessly fast, while also proving comfortable and spacious
  • First Drive
    2 October 2015
    Track Edition GT-R takes key elements from the range-topping GT-R Nismo and offers them at a more affordable price