Electrification suits Rolls-Royce better than just about any other brand. After all, for decades, the highly exclusive automaker has worked tirelessly to tune its V-12s to near silence. But even in the context of previous Rolls-Royces, the electric Spectre represents a step change in quietude. If you subscribe to chief engineer Mihiar Ayoubi’s take that «silence is luxury,» then the Spectre is quite likely the most luxurious vehicle ever.
A New Order of Quietude
This isn’t a foregone conclusion. That all electric vehicles are inherently and equally silent is as incorrect as it is oft repeated. While it’s true that electric motors tend to generate far less noise than internal-combustion engines, especially under high loads, that’s only one of the three primary sources of racket. As for the other two—noise propagating up from the road and the vehicle slicing through the surrounding air—EVs have no particular advantage.
But the Spectre is so silent that to experience it is to ruin every other vehicle, including the rest of the Rolls lineup. At 80 to 90 mph, the slightest ripple of wind starts to nip at the Spectre’s side glass. But compared with a ride the next day in a Cullinan SUV, one of the quietest vehicles we’ve ever measured (62 decibels at a 70-mph cruise), the Spectre is so much quieter that we thought one of the Cullinan’s windows might be slightly open.
Driving the Spectre
The company’s first EV is about far more than just a lack of noise, however. Its tires roll so frictionlessly over smooth roads that you could believe you’re hovering over the road, although sharp impacts ground those thoughts and serve as a reminder of the weight of the 23-inch wheels and 32-inch-tall Pirelli P Zero PZ4 Elect tires. The rolling smoothness is why we think the Spectre should have a coasting mode, which would continue the otherworldly feeling of effortlessness. Instead, there’s a modest amount of default regen, with a B button on the spindly column shifter to increase regenerative braking to the point that it will bring the car to a stop without a touch of the brake pedal, which is a bit long of travel in an attempt to guarantee smoothness. Other than that, the Spectre has no selectable drive-mode settings, an approach we wholeheartedly agree with—offer a single excellent tune without giving drivers numerous ways to screw it up. For the same reason, there are no audio settings. The only other choice relating to the powertrain is a Rolls-Royce noise that scales with motor output; it sounds like an ominous futuristic storm that’s a considerable distance away. With it off (our preference), the motors are perfectly silent. They’re also plenty strong, although acceleration isn’t bonkers by today’s EV standards. Still, a rush to 60 mph in the low-four-second range roughly matches the performance of the brand’s V-12 models.
Those front and rear current-excited synchronous motors are borrowed from parent company BMW. There’s a 255-hp motor in the front and the more powerful 483-hp rear unit from the iX M60 and the i7 M70. The 102.0-kWh battery pack is also shared with BMW and uses the same cells from CATL. Peak output is 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet, all but equal to the latest twin-turbo V-12 in the Phantom sedan. Ayoubi says the Spectre uses nearly 400 pounds of sound-deadening materials, as in other Rolls-Royces, and the 1543-pound battery pack is another effective noise blanket.
Integrating the large battery pack into the aluminum Architecture of Luxury was done deftly—the front seats sit just 0.8 inch higher and the rears 1.2 inches higher than those in the 2009 Phantom Coupe, which served as the Spectre’s muse. The pack also is a major contributor to the claimed 30 percent increase in torsional rigidity over the Rolls-Royce Ghost. That the Spectre is only about 500 pounds heavier than a Cullinan or an i7 feels like about as big of a weight win as a 6600-pound four-seater can hope for.
A high beltline limits the view from the plush seats, with considerable distractions from the gorgeous leather and wood interior materials. A tap of the vents suggests billet aluminum. Despite the removal of the internal-combustion engine and drivetrain, there’s still a central tunnel. The now-familiar Starlight headliner that’s dotted with points of light is augmented with a new Starlight Doors option, featuring 4796 additional «stars» in the doors and the adult-size rear-seat area. Or you can go with the traditional and spectacular wood paneling. Once you’ve taken it all in and get on with the business of driving, you’ll find that the Rolls-typical steering wheel, thin rimmed and large diameter, is light in effort but very precise. In a pleasant surprise, it passes along subtle road feedback. Over large swells in the road, the Spectre can be slightly too floaty front to back, but body roll is well controlled. The forward view of the Spectre stuffing its lane makes it feel as massive as it is, but the four-wheel steering and active anti-roll bars let it drive far smaller. At no point when chucking the Spectre through a series of switchbacks at a pace totally unbecoming of its laid-back mission does it fall apart. When you finally must depart the cabin, hang on after a second pull of the door handle, and the door powers open, pulling you along with it.
Nothing about the Spectre’s arresting presence shouts about the sea change in propulsion, and that’s deliberate. The brand’s customers are not interested in a stylistic departure as Rolls-Royce transitions all its models to electric propulsion by 2030. Therefore, the long hood and generous dash-to-axle ratio remain, although there’s not much to be seen under the hood save for a massive metal cover. The only bit that underwhelms is the oversize charge-port cover. Rolls reshaped and optimized every surface above and on the underside, leading to contribute to an impressive 0.25 coefficient of drag (versus 0.31 for the Phantom Coupe). Even the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament that powers out of the front of the hood contributes, now crouching slightly lower with her flowing robes more extended. The grille slats are mostly closed off since cooling air isn’t needed. At nearly five feet long, the rear-hinged coach doors are the longest Rolls has ever produced, which is why they get a secondary stabilizing latch.
The company says research with potential owners showed that they are almost exclusively interested in charging at home and that the Spectre’s estimated 260 miles of EPA range is sufficient. Those traveling farther would likely choose a different vehicle from their personal fleet—one that isn’t ground-bound. Nevertheless, the Spectre has DC fast-charging capability with a claimed 195-kW peak.
Pricing starts at $422,750, but with a seemingly endless amount of customization possible, the company says it expects most of the vehicles to transact above $500,000. Rolls says 40 percent of those who have ordered a Spectre are new to the brand, and the first year of production, roughly 2500 cars, is already sold out. Deliveries start in November 2023.
The Spectre is that most wonderfully irrational vehicle—a massive, nearly BMW 7-series–sized behemoth with just two doors. It both feels familiar yet represents the ultrasilent way forward for Rolls-Royce.
2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre
Vehicle Type: front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
Front Motor: current-excited synchronous AC, 255 hp, 269 lb-ft
Rear Motor: current-excited synchronous AC, 483 hp, 524 lb-ft
Combined Power: 577 hp
Combined Torque: 664 lb-ft
Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 102.0 kWh
Onboard Charger: 22.0 kW
Peak DC Fast-Charge Rate: 195 kW
Transmissions, F/R: direct-drive
Wheelbase: 126.4 in
Length: 215.6 in
Width: 79.4 in
Height: 61.9 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 55/41 ft3
Trunk Volume: 13 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 6600 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 4.2 sec
100 mph: 9.7 sec
1/4-Mile: 12.5 sec
Top Speed: 155 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/City/Highway: 73/72/75 MPGe
Range: 260 mi
Director, Vehicle Testing
Dave VanderWerp has spent more than 20 years in the automotive industry, in varied roles from engineering to product consulting, and now leading Car and Driver‘s vehicle-testing efforts. Dave got his very lucky start at C/D by happening to submit an unsolicited resume at just the right time to land a part-time road warrior job when he was a student at the University of Michigan, where he immediately became enthralled with the world of automotive journalism.