Rolls-Royce has officially entered the electric age in the modern day with Spectre. I say modern day since, as far back as 1900, the company’s co-founder, Charles Rolls, had imagined an electric future for the marque. Alas, gas won over electricity in the energy race, and so began the century-plus-old age of the combustion engine.
Today, Rolls-Royce has confirmed that by 2030 its entire product portfolio will be fully electric, starting with this Spectre. Teased a year ago with just the name and a camouflaged image, with its elongated coupé body, refined sculpting, hand-crafted cabin with a touch of sparkling theater, Rolls-Royce’s first flirtation with electricity is a truly luxurious motor car.
“Now is the time to change the course of the future of luxury,” says chief executive officer Torsten Müller-Ötvös. “Electric drive is perfectly suited to us, more so than any other automotive brand. It is silent, refined and creates torque almost instantly, going on to generate tremendous power. This is what we call waftability.”
The 2023 Spectre (with British spelling) is everything you would expect of an electric Rolls-Royce. It delivers instant torque, a silent and smooth drive, a little art and a high dose of craft with starlight doors and an illuminated fascia. And Rolls-Royce is encouraging customers to show their creative flair, get involved, elevate their Spectre to be as individual as possible. Living in a time of luxury overload means genuine custodians have to work hard — be extra imaginative — to maintain the crown. Few carmakers have quite the flair to pull off some of the lovely idiosyncrasies of the grand dame of luxury, Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce operates in the broader world of luxury, so design, naturally, takes cues from haute couture and tailoring, the visual arts and, in this case, from nautical design. One good example is the sharp, vertical bow line at the front of Spectre that draws the eye rearward to its impressive flanks, with the lower waft line a direct nod to yachts.
Avoiding grand gestures, the Rolls designers have instead subtly tucked into the sill so that, much as the hull of a racing yacht reflects the ocean as it cuts through the water, the smooth surface mirrors the road passing beneath. It’s a subtle touch that is complex to achieve. The waft line is an essential visual element of Rolls-Royce cars since it signifies the promise of a magic carpet ride. Meanwhile, the upwards sweep toward the front is inspired by the gently lifting bow of an accelerating power boat.
Every effort has been made to enhance the car’s aero efficiency with a drag coefficient of just 0.25cd, which makes Spectre Rolls-Royce’s most aerodynamic motor car in history. Even the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine allegedly took 830 combined hours of design modeling and wind tunnel testing to be aero enhanced.
At the front, the split headlight is intersected by the widest of Pantheon grills to feature on a Rolls-Royce with vanes that are polished in stainless steel to be smoother in section and a flusher fit to help guide the flow of air. It softly illuminates in the dark, with 22 LEDs lighting up the sandblasted rear side of each of the vanes, their gentle glow reflected in the polished front surfaces for a subtle and three-dimensional night signature.
At the rear, the tail lamps are set into the most expansive single-body panel produced for a Rolls-Royce, extending from the A-pillar to the luggage compartment. Meanwhile, the jewel-like vertical tail lamps have a neutral color to allow for customization. And the generous car proportions have meant Spectre is the first production two-door coupé by the marque to ride on 23-inch wheels.
Inside is about the luxury of sight, sound, smell and touch, all with a high dose of theater. The coach doors are available with 4,796 softly shining stars and can be commissioned with a backdrop of wood Canadel Paneling, which takes its name from the cove in the South of France where Sir Henry Royce and his design team spent their winters. The cinematic theme continues with the illuminated fascia, which incorporates the Spectre nameplate surrounded by a cluster of over 5,500 stars.
Everything can be operated through the Spirit digital function integrated into the marque’s Whispers application. It allows customers to interact with their car remotely and receive live information, and it can be personalized to color-match the interior hues.
Spectre has been conceived and engineered as an electric car built on the company’s all-aluminum Architecture of Luxury. The testing program began last year and will complete in 2023, with the cars taking on some 2.5 km, simulating more than 400 years of use for a Rolls-Royce. The final technical figures are still being refined. Yet, preliminary data shows Spectre is expected to have an all-electric range of 320 miles, offer 900Nm of torque from its 430kW powertrain and achieve 60mph in 4.4 seconds.
Says CEO Müller-Ötvös: “This is the start of a bold new chapter for our marque, our extraordinary clients and the luxury industry. For this reason, I believe Spectre is the most perfect product that Rolls-Royce has ever produced.”
First customer cars to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Read about the latest Rolls-Royce Phantom and its involvement with the arts with the Muse program.