Tag Archive | "Rolls Royce Wraith"

New Cars, A Concept – And A Gearbox

Not so long ago Motor Blogger detailed the FIAT 500’s bigger brother, the 500L and assumed that was it, for now at least. Not so, apparently, because the larger car has clearly been at the steroids and morphed into the 500XL – a seven seat leviathan that is now production ready. There it is in the picture.

The car maintains the family resemblance from nose to C-pillar but the rear overhang is longer and rear quarter lights bigger. Like its siblings, it’s a good looking car. No details have been revealed yet although the 500XL will probably offer the same engine line-up as the 500L. We’ll see it officially at the Frankfurt Show in September with order books opening shortly thereafter. The name is possibly up for changing so as not to confuse buyers with 500X, a crossover version due next year.

Rolls Royce have confirmed that there will be a convertible Wraith within the next couple of years but they have, they insist, no plans for an SUV type vehicle. What is likely though is that the ageing Phantom may well be replaced by a new model although the time scale is vague. More than three years away allegedly. What is interesting though is that it is likely to be a plug-in hybrid. Who’d have thought it? RR can clearly see that hybrid is the way to go, particularly as restrictions in city centres may well require an electric only option at some future time.

Ford have revealed a new concept in the form of the Fiesta eWheelDrive utilising in-wheel hub electric motors. Right now it is just a test bed but is an intriguing prospect if it should come to fruition. The two motors are in the back wheels. Right now the batteries are under the bonnet but the plan is to house them under the floor in later versions.

By configuring the layout in this way the space under the bonnet becomes superfluous. The thinking is that the car can be the same size as a two-seater whilst continuing to seat four. The concept, it is hoped, will lead to improvements in urban mobility and parking through the production of smaller, more agile vehicles. If that wasn’t enough, the steering design could allow for moving sideways into parking spaces.

The only issue that we can see is that dreaded word ‘urban’. When are car companies going to realise that not everybody lives in the city. Before getting too clever with the technology how about developing an electric vehicle that will suit the needs of country folk too?

Finally, Volkswagen are in the process of developing a ten-speed gearbox and the question is often asked as to why. How many gears are enough? In fact there are very good reasons for eight, nine or even ten gears. More gears give engineers more spread to work with. First gear can be shorter for improved acceleration from rest while the higher gears can improve fuel economy. This greater spread means that smaller, more economical engines can be used in bigger vehicles. Clearly an auto ’box will be essential.

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The Fall And Rise Of The Super Car

Over the past couple of years motoring writers have been hinting at the demise of the hypercar and indeed high powered sports cars generally. They have been saying that we must all look forward to a brave new world of economy, twin-air engines and the noiseless advance of alternative technologies. Endless streams of bureaucracy seem to support this.

Well, it turns out that car makers haven’t been listening and it appears that rumours of the death of the supercar have been greatly exaggerated. Following the Geneva Motor Show it is clear that many manufacturers see an on-going market for these great and powerful machines for those who can afford it.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black is a case in point. It has gull-wing doors, gulps fuel and causes cracks in the time-space continuum under acceleration and is, on the face of it, completely daft. So why do M-B insist on making it and why do we really, really want one – even if it means paying a quarter of a million pounds?

Porsche’s eminently useable 911 is fine but the company believes that what drivers truly want is a racing car for the road, which is why the 911 GT3 continues to be available in all its awesome awesomeness. In the same vein, Jaguar have been content – until now – to rest its sports car history on the E-Type from years ago so why, in these times of financial woe, would they even consider building and selling the new F-Type V8 S (pictured)? For around a reasonable £80k enthusiasts can buy this future classic which in its way is as good looking as the ancestor.

The Italians of course do not concern themselves with trivialities like global warming and the like; they much prefer to ogle the girls on the Via Veneto and drive cars from Lamborghini. There’s the new Veneno – a snip at £3.1 million – or for those less flush with Euros, the Aventador. It is also why Ferrari’s idea of a family hatchback is the FF and for a million quid will sell you LaFerrari, the replacement for the legendary Enzo.

The list goes on. Rolls Royce have raised the bar with the truly magnificent Wraith and Bentley are producing the GT Speed. If you don’t like two doors then the Bentley Flying Spur is the answer which has the same W12 engine and offers similar performance.

All this hot metal suggests that the furore surrounding climate issues and the need for eco-cars is settling down as manufacturers choose to give their customers cars that they want as well as cars that they should have. Great strides have been made in engine technology, so much so that the above mentioned SLS only produces 321g/km of the nasty stuff. Obviously that’s quite a lot but is way superior to what it would have been just a few short years ago.

If you still believe in alternative power sources but want an SLS they can do you a fully electric version for only one hundred thousand pounds more. It has a battery the size of a house coupled to four electric motors but thanks to something called the ‘SLS eSound’, makes noises like a proper car. The trouble is, most of us like meat with our potatoes. Which is why the true supercar will live on for a while yet.

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There is an auto design team headed up by a man called Giles Taylor to whom temples will be raised, ballads written and statues erected. We have been waiting since the nineteenth century for a car to come along that is so glorious, so perfect, that mere superlatives pale into insignificance.

Mr Taylor is unknown to us personally. For all we know he will, like the Wizard of Oz, be a bit disappointing in the flesh and the sculptors will have to use a bit of artistic licence to show future generations a representation of this colossus of car design and, no doubt, his team of co-workers. What we do know is that all the beautiful cars that have ever been will just become the ugly sisters to this automotive Cinderella.

It is the two door version of the Ghost and is the most powerful and fastest Rolls Royce yet. It’s V12 engine produces 624bhp and the car has been set up to be more agile and minimise body roll; more of a driver’s car. Despite being a traditional name it carries on board the very latest technology including a new Satellite Aided Transmission system which uses satellite technology to allow the 8 speed gearbox to predict corners and junctions and set itself up accordingly.

There doesn’t seem much point in detailing all the facts and figures of this car. Cows have obviously bathed daily in asses milk to grow the opulent hide for the seats. The Canadel wood panelling effects are made from actual birch wood from trees. On the flowing dashboard there are exquisitely crafted dials and displays and switches all of which are mini-masterpieces in their own right. All the latest technology is there; not in a brash way but in a typically understated fashion that spurns any talk of bling.

The fastback design is revolutionary for this traditional company. Messrs Rolls and Royce will look down benignly upon this vehicle and see that it is good. Strictly speaking it should have been introduced to the world in Trafalgar Square with the Queen driving and Horse Guards as outriders instead of on a stand at the Geneva Motor Show. Never mind – Geneva is an acceptably grand and sophisticated city – just the place for such a momentous unveiling.

This is not a sports car, it is something else – the ultimate gentlemen’s Gran Turismo. It is likely to cost in excess of two hundred thousand pounds but that doesn’t really seem to matter. It is the new Rolls Royce. It is British made. It is The Wraith.

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Rolls Royce To Reveal Wraith

Rolls Royce Motors have confirmed that their new model will be called the Wraith and it will be presented to the world at the Geneva Motor Show on the 5th March 2013. First deliveries are expected towards the end of the year for those with very deep pockets.

The company are fond of resurrecting names from their noble past, as they did with the 2010 Ghost in honour of the 1906 Silver Ghost. This time the historical precedent is set by the 1938/9 Wraith which was sold to independent coach builders as a running chassis. Immediately after the 2nd World War the name surfaced again in the form of the Silver Wraith. This new Wraith, it is said, draws its inspiration from company founder and all-round adventurer the Honourable Charles Rolls, the first man to fly across the channel non-stop there and back.

Although cynics might say words to the effect of “well they would say that wouldn’t they”, Rolls Royce are really talking up this new car (although they will only release the teasing picture shown above for now). We are told to expect bold design, timeless elegance and dramatic performance behind the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet ornament.

This new found confidence has got to be down to the influence of the parent company BMW. No place for typical British reserve here, they seem to say. BMW are investing in RR with confidence as they clearly see no change at the luxury end of the car market where the value of traditional craftsmanship finds its buyers without problems.

Pushing the ghostly metaphor to the limit the Wraith will, when encountered, make the world stand still as it whispers by. Words like ethereal and breathtaking are being used and the hyperbole just keeps on coming. I quote: “Wraith alludes to an almost imperceptible but powerful force, something rare, agile and potent, a spirit that will not be tethered to the earth. It is the perfect name for our new model.”

The trouble is that, being Rolls Royce, you kind of want to believe it. The Phantom range of traditional Rollers are undoubtedly beautiful, especially the glorious Two-door Coupé ; a totally modern car that somehow seems to suggest a harking back to the big bruising powerhouses of the first half of the 20th Century. Maybe it’s just me. The addition of the Ghost bought a smaller, more realistic image to the range and the addition of the Wraith will continue to keep this Great British name at the pinnacle of motoring excellence. Let us hope that the car lives up to the introduction!

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