If the all-new, full electric 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre was part of His Majesty’s Royal Navy, she would be a Battleship, ready to dominate rogue navies from within the United Kingdom (Bentley, Range Rover and Jaguar), other European nations (Porsche, Audi, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and BMW), North America (Cadillac, Lucid and Tesla), and across the Pacific to East Asia (Lexus and Genesis).
Those navies have launched luxury contenders into a growing sea of full electric vehicles, but make no mistake about it – they lack the ultimate luxury firepower of HMS Spectre.
Okay, enough about sea battle fantasies, let’s focus on reality, and the reality is the new Spectre launches Rolls-Royce into the electric car sphere so far that it leaves other luxury brands at their charging stations.
Talk about prophecy. This quote from Rolls-Royce co-founder Charles Rolls is from 1900. One hundred twenty-three years later, prophecy became reality.
“In April 1900, our founding forefather, Charles Rolls, made a prescient prophecy about automotive electrification. Move forward over 120 years to when I made a public promise, on the record, that we would bring the first fully electric Rolls‑Royce to market within the current decade. And, right now, our company is embarking on an historic undertaking to create the first, super-luxury car of its type. This will happen sooner than many thought possible, through the incredible skills, expertise, vision and dedication of our engineers, designers and specialists at the Home of Rolls-Royce.
“In this ground-breaking endeavor, we are drawing on a remarkable heritage, unique in our industry. Our founders and those who worked alongside them in the marque’s formative years were all important pioneers of electric power, as well as their era’s leading experts in automotive engineering. As we herald a new electric future at Rolls-Royce, I am proud and humbled to share their inspiring stories, which have never been told in one place before, and shine a fresh and fascinating light on our company’s earliest days.” – Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös
When CEO Müller-Ötvös made that declarative statement several years ago, Rolls-Royce had already set the wheels of electrification into motion with the release of the Phantom 102EX in 2011, a road legal dual-motor concept based on the flagship Phantom.
While Phantom 102EX drew widespread acclaim for its technical accomplishment, its limited range, long charging cycles and three-year battery life remained significant hurdles that Rolls-Royce would need to address in order to satisfy the expectations of its clients.
Moving closer to Spectre, in 2016, the so-called Vision Next 100 (103EX) was launched to help define the marque’s long-term vision of luxury, green mobility, and battery electric innovation. The 103EX was a purely experimental car, never destined to enter production. Following a debut in London, the car embarked on a three-year world tour, returning to the home of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood, United Kingdom in 2019.
The Next Chapter
In September 2021, Rolls-Royce Motor confirmed it had begun testing of the first model in its history to be conceived and engineered from the beginning as an electric car. That testing program extended to more than 1.5 million miles in every extreme of terrain and temperature, simulating over 400 years of normal use. In October 2022, Spectre made its global debut.
As the first fully-electric Rolls-Royce, Rolls-Royce states that Spectre proves that battery-electric technology can be successfully deployed at Rolls-Royce levels, meaning the very apex of automotive excellence, luxury and performance.
Spectre’s launch also represents a paradigm shift: Phantom Series II was one of the last internal combustion engines for the marque, as Rolls-Royce, like many other luxury brands, sets its sights on full-electrification by the year 2030.
Ultra-Luxury Electric Super Coupé
Spectre has created an entirely new class of motor car: the Ultra-Luxury Electric Super Coupé. The all-electric powertrain takes the signature Rolls-Royce experience – instant torque in a near-silent environment enhanced for a new generation of clients. Its “Decentralized Intelligence” system enables free and direct exchange of information between thousands of individual vehicle functions. And in its contemporary yet timeless aesthetic, it takes the brand’s design language and Bespoke capabilities into a new, electric age.
In spectacular Napa Valley, California, the next chapter of the Rolls-Royce electric story was written with the global media launch of the 2024 Spectre.
During the briefing at the global launch, Müller-Ötvös told assembled media that “Spectre needs to be a Rolls-Royce first, and an electric car second.” After a full day of driving Spectre, it’s clear that the legendary marque has achieved its goal.
Automotive Haute Couture
During the media briefing, Spectre Design Director Anders Warming waxed ecstatic about the design attributes, including nautical and high-fashion design cues, that propel Spectre to the top of the BEV mountain. For example, Starlight door panels combine with the famed Starlight Headliner to create a stunning interior environment. Warming cited the redesigned Spirit of Ecstasy and iconic Pantheon Grille as design hallmarks that always speak to the power and lure of the brand. The Pantheon Grille is the widest ever on a Rolls-Royce and features 22 backlit LEDs, creating a subtle three-dimensional light signature at night. The Spirit of Ecstasy figurine is lower and sleeker, helping make Spectre the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever.
Warming also spoke about the massive size of the new Spectre. While it looks like Wraith with its forward opening “Coach” doors, Spectre is based on the Cullinan/Phantom chassis, and is six inches longer and five inches longer than Wraith, which is no longer in production. Think of Spectre as the spiritual successor to the Phantom Coupé, which ceased production in 2016.
Additionally, Warming spoke about the spectacular colors adorning Spectre: Scala Red, Midnight Sapphire, Darkest Tungsten and Iguazu Blue are among 13 standard client colors. Where Spectre really shines is in the 16 available colors in the “Commissioned Colors” portfolio; where Chartreuse, Magma Red, the electric (my personal favorite) Twilight Purple and Warming’s personal favorite Morganite (named after the gemstone) make Spectre rolling works of art. Don’t see a color you like? Roll’s well-noted bespoke customization program (Bespoke Collective) sets the tone for every Spectre that leaves the Goodwood factory. There is no such thing as a “typical” Spectre, as the desires of each client span what Rolls-Royce calls “The Poles of Luxury;” creating a blank canvas, capable of becoming whatever the client wishes it to be, and a true reflection of their individual style and character.
Imagine walking out of the resort to a squadron of Rolls-Royce Spectres. Ladies went “Gaga,” and ladies and gents alike pulled out mobile phones to check their investment portfolios to start the process of making a dream car like Spectre their own. Okay, I’m exaggerating again, but reactions to this massive beauty were 100 percent positive.
For our drive, Spectres in multiple color options were available, and I quickly selected a Midnight Sapphire over Seashell and Navy Blue beauty, featuring Sindora open-pore wood and rolling on 23-inch, Ultra-Polished wheels. The color combination was in a word, stunning.
Spectre Road Manners
Our Spectre test drive took us on a route as spectacular as the vehicle itself. Our drive through Napa Valley’s wine country was breathtaking. As one might expect, Spectre’s acceleration is superb. It travels from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds thanks to a dual-motor powertrain outputting 577-horsepower and a very impressive 663 pound-feet of torque. While 4.4 seconds isn’t quick for electric cars, one must consider Spectre’s near 6,400-pound weight, of which includes the weight of the battery pack and over 1,500 pounds of sound insulation. The other consideration is the brand itself — Rolls-Royce doesn’t need to perform like a Porsche Taycan — it needs to perform like a Rolls-Royce.
The cabin during our spirited drive was serene. Although the bespoke audio system in Spectre is first-rate, my drive partners, Nobu Style Magazine publishers Ben and Kara Ellis and I reveled in the opportunity to have a conversation without being interrupted by road or engine noise. In my 27 years of writing about automobiles, that was the first time I didn’t turn on the audio system until after the multi-hour drive.
Ride and handling were spot-on thanks to Spectre’s Planar Suspension System, which debuted on Ghost. Rolls-Royce Engineers described it as “an orchestra of systems,” which combines specially developed hardware and Spectre’s high-speed processing capabilities to deliver the marque’s hallmark “Magic Carpet Ride.”
On straight roads, the system can automatically decouple Spectre’s anti-roll bars, allowing each wheel to act independently. This prevents the rocking motion that occurs when one side of a vehicle hits an undulation in the road, and dramatically reduces high-frequency disturbances caused by smaller, repeated surface defects.
When the system detects a corner, it re-couples the components, stiffens the dampers, and prepares to activate the four-wheel steering system to ensure seamless corner entry and exit. During cornering, individual sensors monitor almost 20 different steering, braking, power delivery and suspension parameters, and adjust them automatically to maintain perfect tracking and stability.
Inside the serenely-quiet Spectre cabin, if it’s not standard, as many of the features in my tester were, then the aforementioned Bespoke Collective can make it happen. Above your head, you can commission the Starlight Headliner in any pattern or galaxy you desire. New for Spectre is the addition of Starlight door panels and a spectacular light arrangement in the passenger side dashboard. Rest assured, only the finest woods, leathers, carpets and metals adorn the interior.
The Future is Now
“Spectre possesses all the qualities that have secured the Rolls-Royce legend. This incredible motor car, conceived from the very beginning as our first fully-electric model, is silent, powerful and demonstrates how perfectly Rolls-Royce is suited to electrification. Spectre’s all-electric powertrain will assure the marque’s sustained success and relevance while dramatically increasing the definition of each characteristic that makes a Rolls-Royce a Rolls-Royce. At Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, perfection is about more than making the very best products. It is a culture, an attitude and our guiding philosophy. Indeed, it is our founding father Sir Henry Royce who said, ‘strive for perfection in everything you do’. Spectre has been conceived within this culture. It is perfectly in tune with the sensibilities of our time. It states the direction for the future of our marque and perfectly answers a call from the most discerning individuals in the world to elevate the electric motor car experience, because Spectre is a Rolls-Royce first and an electric car second. 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.” – CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös
I think you are right Mr. Müller-Ötvös, all hail HMS Spectre!
My test Spectre carried a base price of $420,000.
Spectres can be configured to your specifications at the Rolls-Royce client site, www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com/en_US/bespoke/configure-your-rolls-royce.html
Pursuitist automotive and lifestyle contributor Brian Armstead has been involved in print, radio, web and television for over 47 years. Brian has traveled to 79 countries. He is a North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year (NACTOY) Juror.