Although Rolls-Royces found some motorsport successes in the early years, ‘handling’ has never since been particularly high on the list of the company’s priorities.
Until now? Of a fashion. The Wraith is the most dynamic Rolls yet but retains most of the qualities of the Ghost – which means that it rides and glides, albeit with a little less isolation into the cabin than the saloon on which it’s based.
It still feels like a Rolls-Royce, though, so it steers with fingertip lightness, and a sense of imperious detachment is all-pervading.
At times the steering wheel elicits a small shimmy, if you hit a mid-corner bump, to remind you that you’re in a more dynamic car, but don’t mistake a slight openness to corruption as anything like a prelude to feel. The steering offers consistency and linearity, but no more.
This is meant to be a car that is extremely easy to drive quickly. To an extent, that is the case. On motorways, it’s extremely stable and effortlessly responsive. On smaller roads, there is more body movement and settling time than you’d want for truly quick driving, but keep its size and girth in the back of your mind and satisfyingly brisk progress comes naturally.
Most BMWs have a disabling button for the stability control positioned front row centre, so it tells you quite a lot that here it is buried within the iDrive system. With the DSC on, the Wraith delivers fairly steady emergency or on-limit handling.
There’s considerable dive under braking or hard cornering, of course, and rapid lane changes are best thought about rather than hooked in an emergency. But ultimately it’s a reliable, trustworthy companion.
Switch the DSC off — and there’s a chance that owners might for a giggle — and the Wraith reveals a slightly different character. Once you heave it into a turn (and trailing the brakes on the way in is an advantage to keep the nose planted), the inherent handling balance is towards oversteer.
Around our dry handling circuit, the nose goes where it’s pointed, while the rear attempts to dutifully follow but sometimes can’t quite manage it and lapses into a lazy, easily caught slide. It’s an unexpected (but more hilarious than we imagined) handling trait.