Spectre: The Rolls-Royce of EVs is finally here


“Torsten, make sure it’s a Rolls-Royce first and an electric car second.”

Those were the words of warning from clients around the world to Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös upon hearing the British luxury automaker was going to build an electric vehicle.

Well, the Spectre is here now and clearly “a Rolls-Royce first.” (And so is the price — $420,000 to start.)

Though the Spectre is Rolls-Royce’s first-ever production EV, the company has been experimenting as far back as 2010, when the automaker outfitted a Ghost sedan with an electric powertrain to get feedback for the company engineers and insights from clients.

“But the technology was not on [this] level,” Müller-Ötvös said. Battery technology, charging ubiquity, smoothness — these were challenges at first. But Rolls-Royce and its longtime CEO believe they have finally built an electric Rolls with “zero compromises.”

After its debut a few years back, the Spectre EV is now finally on the road for its press debut in Napa Valley, California, and it’s delivering on what it was meant to do — be a Rolls-Royce motorcar above all else.

The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV (credit: Pras Subramanian)
Sinister yet attractive? The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV (Pras Subramanian)

Stunning design

The Spectre has been universally praised for its sleek, yet powerful design — an improvement over its predecessor, the Wraith coupe. Though both models showcase the “pantheon” waterfall grill, a hallmark of Rolls’ past, the Spectre grill is flanked by two horizontal, eclipse-like lights, giving it a sinister yet attractive look.

The car is highlighted by the “coach doors” and the car’s lines flowing back to the rear — not as tapered as the Wraith’s rear three-quarter panel but aggressively wider over the rear tires.

Inside, the Rolls-Royce is pure opulence: leather hides that are blemish-free and supple to the touch, wood veneers of differing color and grain, and all-metal switchgear and vents that feel, as Rolls design chief Anders Warming told us, “cold” to the touch.

The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV
The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV

The best thing about the Spectre’s interior is that it feels like a Rolls-Royce through and through. It’s not trying to be an EV and wow with electronic wizardry.

Wafting along in the Spectre

Joined by BMWBLOG Editor-in-Chief Horatiu Boeriu, I tested the Spectre for a few hours on the undulating roads in California’s Napa Valley. First and foremost, that Rolls-Royce quality shined through where it was most important — keeping the driver and occupants protected from the elements in near silence.

The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV (credit: Pras Subramanian)
The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV (credit: Pras Subramanian)

“Honestly, it just feels like any other Rolls-Royce because it’s so silent,” Boeriu said. “You can’t even tell you’re an electric car because everything inside, even when you look at the switches, the buttons and all of that, it just doesn’t say this is an electric car. It just shows you this is a Rolls-Royce.”

Powering the Spectre is a dual-motor electric motor setup, with a 102 kWh battery. Rolls said the combination puts out 577 horsepower with a 0-60 mph time in the mid-four-second range.

Not earth-shattering numbers, but that’s all by design. Clients want to drive over the road — not through it — in a smooth, buttery, floating-like manner. This is what Rolls-Royce calls “waftability,” a silent, refined, yet powerful means of propulsion.

The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV
The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV

Rolls-Royce likes to use the example of the “champagne test” when talking about smoothness. Even if a clumsy and aggressive driver were to accelerate, the car must speed up in a way that the occupant wouldn’t spill a single drop of champagne.

Yes, it is true marketing-speak from the only brand that most people think of that features chauffeurs, champagne, and Grey Poupon mustard. That being said, when pushed to the test, the Spectre from a standstill will not snap a driver’s neck like most other EVs.

The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV
The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV

Rolls engineers did indeed tune the car to ease back on the initial bite when pushing the accelerator. It almost feels like there’s a delay upon depressing the pedal. But it is there on purpose and tends to work from a ride-smoothing point of view.

The Spectre’s innate nature is pure “waftability” and cruising attitude — whether it’s on back roads or busy local intersections in St. Helena. The Spectre is unflappable, especially on uneven and cracked roads — it just hovers right over imperfections. Once the Spectre is moving and in motion, you can mash the accelerator and it will deliver very smooth power, rivaling the automaker’s well-loved V-12s.

Now the Spectre could be more nimble around curves. It could also feel less boat-like and more nimble and aggressive when you want it to be, like a Lucid Air. But that’s not why you buy a Spectre — and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Spectre is occasion driving.

Does it keep its occupants coddled in sheer luxury? Does it effortlessly float around town? Yes, on all counts.

The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV
The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV

The bottom line

The Spectre’s 260-mile range is somewhat of a downer, but it’s not a deal breaker for potential buyers who likely have multiple cars (and maybe a Rolls already: 60% of Spectre pre-orders are from existing Rolls clients).

The range issues aside, there’s a lot to like.

But what really strikes me about the Spectre is its drop-dead looks. It is the best-looking Rolls in years — maybe ever — and the fact that it’s powered by modern technology means it will have a lasting legacy, and perhaps collectibility, in the years to come.

The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV
The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV

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