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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 5, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    Geneva Show LiveBlog: The Wraith glides in

    Neil Briscoe

    Welcome to our LiveBlog of all the biggest and brightest news from the floor of the Geneva motor show. We’ll be bringing you all the big reveals, the latest metal and the most exciting rumours and news throughout the two press days – today and tomorrow.

    While today, March 5th, is actually the official kick-off for the show, things were already happening late last night and one of the cars that got its first media airing was this, the Rolls-Royce Wraith – the car which I suspect will be my favourite of the whole show. And yes, that’s with an all-new Ferrari Enzo still to be revealed.

    The Wraith, which Rolls has been gently teasing us with cropped photos and details of for the past month, is essentially a coupe version of the Ghost saloon, but it is in fact rather more than just a Ghost minus a couple of doors.

    For a kick-off, it’s the most powerful Rolls-Royce in history, with a whopping 624bhp and 800Nm of torque from its twin-turbo V12 engine. It may still major on comfort and refinement, but here is a Roller that will be able to sprint (if a Rolls-Royce can ever truly be described as sprinting) from 0-100kmh in less than 5 seconds.

    “Today we launch the ultimate gentlemen’s gran turismo, a car that embodies the spirit of Charles Stewart Rolls,” Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO Rolls-Royce Motor Cars said to the assembled press. “The most powerful Rolls-Royce in history, Wraith promises the sense of adventure and speed that drove our founding forefather. But of course, Wraith’s starting point is luxury, refinement and quality, traits that remain as important to Rolls-Royce customers today as they were more than a century ago.”

    Actually, it’s almost a bit disappointing that Rolls has chosen to officially reveal the car’s power output. I suppose they kind of had to, but in the run up to the official unveiling, any questions as to grunt were batted aside with a traditional “adequate, sir. Adequate.”

    This being a Rolls-Royce of course, you’d expect it to be favouring comfort over handling, and although there is talk of this being the most driver-focused Rolls ever, I suspect that it’s still going to be one of the most relaxing ways ever of deploying 600-odd horsepower. Take for instance the Wraith’s headlining clever tech toy; a satellite assisted transmission. This means that, for the first time ever, the computer that controls the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission talks to the computer that controls the sat-nav. Why? Simply so that the transmission knows what the road ahead looks like; corners, junctions, inclines, whatever. It can then predict what gear it needs, combine that information with the driver’s preferred style and slot home the right cog at just the perfect moment. If Ferrari had this system, it would be optimised for speed and noise. I suspect that, this being Rolls-Royce, the set-up will instead be optimised for refinement and discretion. Just as it should be.

    Thankfully, in spite of all that power and high-tech, the press notes for the car still speak of proper Rolls things like ‘waftability’ and ‘effortlessness’ so it seems that even with this being the hottest Rolls ever, some things are sacrosanct.

    You won’t get much, if any change from €500,000 if you want one, but while the upcoming Ferrari reveal will doubtless steal the show out from under everyone else, this is still my pick of the metal for Geneva 2013.

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