Rolls-Royce Spectre review
The Rolls-Royce Spectre is a showcase for how luxury motoring is set to flourish under electric power
|Car type||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Electric||339 miles||14hrs est. (0-100%, 7.4kW)||
35mins (10-80%, 195kW)
Rolls-Royce Spectre verdict
In many ways, the Rolls-Royce Spectre feels a little like a tech demo of how electric power can heighten the luxury-car experience. The Spectre’s duo of electric motors surpass the maker’s legendary V12 engine in terms of smoothness and power delivery, while the silent acceleration helps further separate the Roller’s inevitably wealthy driver and passengers from the peasantry driving around in BMWs and Audis. Add to this some of the finest craftsmanship we’ve seen in an electric car and Rolls-Royce’s first attempt at a zero-emissions vehicle proves that great British engineering is ready to survive and thrive in this new electrified era.
Details, specs and alternatives
For a long time, an electric car was deemed a luxury item, not least due to the majority of models being so expensive. Now with affordable options on the market like the MG4 and BYD Dolphin, what defines luxury zero-emissions motoring? While there are certainly options out there for the esteemed company CEO to be chauffeured around in such as the Mercedes EQS and BMW i7, what about the even wealthier shareholders?
Well, Rolls-Royce thinks it might have the answer in its latest model: the all-electric Spectre. A two-door luxury grand-tourer, the British brand’s first EV sits in a league of its own in the new car market as we await fully-electric models from the likes of Bentley and even Land Rover.
Weighing-in at almost three tonnes, the Rolls-Royce Spectre is powered by a frankly huge 102kWh battery which, according to the brand, accounts for around 700kg of the car’s overall bulk. This is partnered with a robust duo of electric motors that provide what we’re sure Rolls-Royce would describe as a ‘sufficient’ 577bhp and 900Nm of torque.
There are no trim levels to speak of as every Rolls-Royce 'commission’ is said to be unique. There are 13 ‘Standard’ colours to choose from, as well as 16 shades from the 'Commissioned Collection’. But fork out enough cash and Rolls-Royce will paint your car any colour you like. The same goes for the interior upholstery.
With a lengthy options list that makes Porsche’s look back-to-basics, it’s fair to say no Spectre will leave the factory in Goodwood at the £330,000 base price. There will also be a long wait for eager customers, as the millionaires and billionaires of the world have already lined up in numbers, with the British maker currently quoting an 18-month lead time.
Range, battery size & charging
|Battery size||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|102kWh||339 miles||14hrs est. (0-100%, 7.4kW)||
35mins (10-80%, 195kW)
Given the sheer enormity of the Spectre’s dimensions, you won’t be surprised that it boasts one of the largest batteries currently fitted to any EV. Rolls-Royce says the pack’s 102kWh capacity provides a range of up to 339 miles, which is enough to take you from London to Paris on a single charge – provided you’re gentle with the accelerator.
Maximum charging speeds stand at 195kW – the same as a BMW i7 – so if you can find a fast enough ultra-rapid public charger, you can top-up the Spectre from 10-80% in just 35 minutes. A full charge at home will take significantly longer, though, at around 14 hours from a 7kW wallbox.
Running costs & insurance
If you can afford a £300,000+ electric Rolls-Royce, the cost of charging and insurance likely aren’t an issue. Nevertheless, for the sake of fairness, we thought we’d at least cover the basics in this regard. Business bosses putting the Spectre through as a company car will save a fortune versus the equivalent V8 or V12; those in the 40% income tax bracket will pay ‘just’ £2,640 per year.
Like all electric cars, the Spectre is exempt from road tax (VED) and can enter London’s Congestion Charge and Ultra-Low Emissions (ULEZ) zones for free – perfect for cruising around Mayfair. Insurance is likely to be astronomical, though, as we doubt most mainstream insurers would take on a car of such immense value.
A full charge at the current average electricity rate of 30p per kWh means the Spectre will cost around £30 to top-up at home, while the average rapid charging rate of 79p per kWh means a 10-80% charge at a public charger will cost around £56 – cheaper than filling-up petrol Rolls, but expensive for an EV nonetheless.
Performance, motor & drive
|0-62mph||Top speed||Driven wheels||Power|
Driving a Rolls-Royce has always been somewhat akin to land-yachting, and while the three-tonne Spectre is no different in this regard, it certainly impresses. As you’d expect, it’s incredibly comfortable on the move, gliding along the road like a magic carpet. It can, like most EVs, get a bit fidgety over the roughest of surfaces at low speeds, but on the motorway, the Spectre feels even more composed than even the range-topping petrol Phantom.
We weren’t too keen on the Spectre’s relatively jerky regenerative braking ‘B-mode’, but we were surprised by how grippy the car was when the road got a bit twisty. We doubt any Rolls-Royce owner is looking to use the Spectre to attack a mountain road, but if you’re a little late for a business meeting, the effortless power of the electric motors will propel you there in a swift yet measured manner.
What truly stunned us, however, was how quiet the electric Rolls is when on the move – never has the saying “the loudest noise inside [a] Rolls-Royce comes from the clock” been so accurate. There is a ‘motion noise’ setting which will play artificial sounds through the speakers if you can’t deal with the Spectre’s ghostly silence, but we think the lack of ambient noise adds to the tranquillity of the driving experience.
Interior, dashboard & infotainment
Rolls-Royce pins itself as the pinnacle of luxury and the Spectre only reaffirms this. It’s hard to describe how expensive the interior feels, but let’s just say everything you touch feels as if it should be mounted behind glass at a museum. There’s no plastics to be seen – everywhere is wrapped in either leather, wood or solid aluminium.
As mentioned, you can have your Spectre’s interior in almost any colour – our test car was specified in a rather modish purple and white to match the exterior. Like the majority of Rolls-Royce models over the past couple of decades, you can configure your Spectre’s headlining to be lined with LEDs in what the maker calls ‘Starlights’.
Frivolities aside, there’s plenty of well-damped physical buttons and switches, with the central infotainment system taking a bit of a backseat compared with the flashy Hyperscreens of Mercedes-Benz luxury EV models. This is controlled via a BMW iDrive-style rotary dial (dressed in leather, of course) and contains all the basic functions like sat-nav and smartphone connectivity.
Boot space, seating & practicality
What good is an electric luxury car if there isn’t the space to take some of your pampered pals along for the ride? Thankfully, there’s plenty of room behind the front seats for two six-footers to sit comfortably; neither rear passenger will feel short-changed as both back seats get their own climate zones as well as heating and ventilation functions.
If you’re planning to carry more than a few shopping bags from Harrods, then you’ll probably be out of luck; despite being the size of a small aircraft carrier, the Spectre only has a 380-litre boot – smaller than a Cupra Born’s load space. Worse still, 50 litres of that is taken up by underfloor cable storage, and you can’t fold the rear seats down to free up some extra space.
Reliability & safety rating
It’s hard to say how reliable the Rolls-Royce Spectre will be – especially given how it’s the brand’s first EV and that it’ll sell in such small numbers. What we can say is that electric cars should, in theory, be more reliable than their petrol counterparts as there are fewer mechanisms to go wrong.