We caught up with Marc Mielau, GM Marketing, Rolls Royce Motor Cars at the Geneva Motor Show last week and got him to take you through the Wraith’s design features in a video clip.
Today we present to you a comprehensive interview where Mielau covers all the other bases of the Wraith.
IAB - The name Wraith has been used before and it also gives your entire range of cars (the Phantom and Ghost) something in common, doesn’t it?
Mielau – The name is quite interesting. We relaunched the brand 10 years ago, in 2003, with the Phantom. It was the first product under the BMW era and it turned successful. The Drophead Coupe and Coupe that followed, continued the success story. Then in 2009, we launched the Ghost. It attracted the younger audience a lot. We even extended the wheelbase of the Ghost sometime later. And now we’ve done something groundbreaking, something different. Sir Henry Royce said – ‘Take the best and make it better.’ If it doesn’t exist, design it! So this car, for us did not exist in the whole market. That was a good reason for us to make it. The Wraith is a slightly menacing and very emotional car. And for that reason, we thought we should give it a name that we have already used in the past.
The Wraith is about Power, Style and Drama. It is the most powerful car we’ve ever built, yet stylish. It has all the genes of a Rolls Royce – driving comfort, luxury, coach doors which are the most elegant way to enter a car. Wraith is a name that comes from the Scottish dialect which refers to Guardian angel. That’s how we came up with the name.
IAB – This edition of the Geneva Motor Show has been quite interesting. A new Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren….. and a new Rolls Royce! I think this is the first time, a Rolls Royce is being added to that list.
Mielau – Yes! In fact, we had a very secret unveiling of the car for some of our customers and prospects sometime ago. It was a great unveiling, and I can tell you that self driven people, people who own Ferrari’s, love the Wraith! I think a lot of people now have a different perception of our brand.
IAB – Talking about the design of the Wraith, it has a ‘fastback’ design style to it. The way the roof of the car slopes and ends at the boot especially…
Mielau – That is right. As I say in marketing terms, when you talk about Rolls Royce you should expect the unexpected. This was the unexpected. Mostly we surprise with features on a car, this time we surprised with an entirely new car, a concept car. It leads us in the direction where we attract new customers as well. We’ve a big customer base who have had Rolls Royce cars for decades. With Wraith, on one hand, we’ll attract those customers who collect our cars since years, and on the other hand the fans of the brand who love the brand, but those who want something more dynamic and tailor made. Like a suit, but in a more informal way. Most importantly, people who drive super sports car now have something more dynamic which is also comfortable. Which is a Rolls Royce!
IAB – Getting the design right must have been a challenge then?
Mielau – I personally like the work our designers have done. They stretched the car a bit, the bonnet is longer. And those bring out the two-tone design of the car. This car is designed for two-tone paints. The bonnet flows back, the air intakes are deeper. They’re details you can really appreciate. It makes the car more sporty and more dynamic, without changing the genes of the car. When you see the car, you say it is a Rolls Royce. What is it? It is different. But, it is a Rolls Royce.
I think Giles Taylor, our design director put it very beautifully. The Phantom is the tuxedo, it is the dinner jacket. It is the formal occasion. The Ghost is the nicely tailored business suit. For the Wraith, we’re loosening the tie! It is what you wear after work, for a party maybe. You drive more than 400 km, you feel exhilarated, but relaxed. It is a metal fist in a velvet glove: Very powerful, but very smooth. I think our designers are very talented to have captured the car in just three lines. The look like a bow and an arrow.
The wood veneer inside has also seen much attention to detail. Whenever you look at it, it appears as though it is shooting forward. Very dynamic.
IAB – Underneath, the Wraith is based on the Rolls Royce Ghost. Exterior differences aside, how is it different?
Mielau – The Wraith is shorter, wider than a Ghost. It is a 2:1 (wheel to body) ratio. There are some design elements that must be kept constant to make a true Rolls Royce. There are some shared components with the Ghost, but the Wraith is a very much different car. It is our most powerful car ever. An interesting thing about the Wraith is that you don’t have to compromise. It will easily take three people in comfort, a couple of bags in the boot very easily. In India this is particularly important. If the father or the mother wants a comfortable performance car, they can easily get their children or their in-laws in the rear seats.
Some features like the on board valet is special as well. It offers wonderful connectivity services. You need directions, you push a button on the steering wheel and give your destination and you get your directions instantly. You want to phone someone to tell them you’re late for a meeting, real time traffic pops up on your screen. Everything needs to be effortless.
IAB – On one hand, the Wraith is the most powerful and dynamic Rolls Royce there is. Yet on the other, it needs to have that traditional RR ‘waftability.’ Quite a huge challenge then, wasn’t it?
Mielau – It’s not so much a challenge I would say. The important thing was to refine the engine and driving characteristics. You’ve to see that there is a lot of individual adjustments possible in the Wriath. The suspension for example, had to be a no compromise. We’ve different modes for it that ensures that it can be driven dynamically on proper roads and yet drive over bad roads comfortably.
IAB – When you’re presenting something you’ve never done before, this being the case, a set of new parameters come into focus. For example, the noise that a Rolls Royce’s engine makes is nonexistent. That cannot be the case for a sports car, can it?
Mielau – It is still a Rolls Royce. So it won’t have an engine that growls. The sound experience will be nice. It’s a very cultivated sound, not offensive. I can tell you it is very reassuring, when you put your foot down, you know the V12 is there. It is a very nice sound, I can tell you that. We do have a lot of attention to detail in the sound as well, our customers really like that.
IAB – In the instrument cluster, a Rolls Royce does not have a tachometer, but a Power Reserve dial. How is it so on the Wraith? Being a car with sporty pretensions, have you changed it?
Mielau – No, it is still a Power Reserve dial. We’ve to relate to the tradition of the brand. Even the fingertips of the dials for example are red in color. There are certain principles that a Rolls Royce will always adhere to: The grille and the Spirit Of Ecstasy to list some and even the Power Reserve dial.
IAB – We know that you’re getting the Wraith to India. Question is, when?
Mielau – India was, and is a very important market. There is lots of heritage and culture. I can just see this being the car for the Indian customers, I can see them getting into the driving seat. This is a super luxury car and is good for India. It will be in India in time for the wedding season!! I can tell you that. We’re very excited!