This is What It's Like to Drive and Ride a Rolls-Royce
The idea of “making it” in this world is intensely subjective, but few things symbolize that idea more solidly than a Rolls-Royce. In fact, the revered automotive brand has become a signifier that equates to the best and most luxurious in many fields (i.e., the Rolls-Royce of chairs, the Rolls-Royce of watches, the Rolls-Royce of chicharon).
Because of the sheer lavishness and exclusivity of a Rolls-Royce, very few people have had the pleasure of sliding inside one—whether it’s behind the wheel or in the passenger seat. So when the local dealership of the British marque sent out an invite to a Rolls-Royce ride experience one Friday morning, there was no hesitation. The answer was an immediate yes.
The first part of the experience was a brief drive around Bonifacio Global City with a professional chauffeur. I have walked and driven past the streets and avenues of the bustling commercial district many times, but seeing them behind the lightly tinted glass windows of the Rolls-Royce Wraith was like seeing them for the first time. The leather upholstery was soft and supple to the touch, and tiny details—such as the red needle tips in the speedometer and power reserve gauges, push buttons to close the door from the inside, as well as a separate power window button for the rear section of an otherwise solid-looking window face—added to the depth and drama. I could feel my own sense of importance and worth climbing as the chauffeur gently cruised past light traffic.
Clearly this isn’t the ordinary vehicle I would ride to work or to the mall.
Behind the wheel
Eventually it was time to take the wheel of the Wraith. There’s always the tiniest hint of anxiety when test-driving a brand new vehicle, but multiply that tenfold when controlling a vehicle that’s worth more than a house or two. Strangely, the Wraith put me right at ease as soon as we rolled out of the Rolls-Royce showroom.
There’s a popular belief that people get a Rolls-Royce when they’re past the stage of driving themselves and so elect to pass that duty on to someone else. But anyone who enjoys the simple pleasures of driving will discover the Wraith is very much a driver’s car. Don’t be fooled by its refined features—the Grand Tourer is the most powerful in the brand’s lineup, with a direct fuel injection 6.6 twin-turbo V12 engine cranking out an impressive 624 horsepower. The spec sheet said it could hike up from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in about 4.6 seconds.
I had to wait to test that out for myself, though. If the Rolls-Royce were a horse, we were merely walking at this stage as we got caught in mid-morning traffic in Taguig. But we soon progressed to a trot and further up to a canter the closer we got to the South Luzon Expressway. There the Wraith opened up to a full gallop as I floored the accelerator.
That’s when it hit me: I was driving a Rolls-Royce and it felt exactly like I thought it would—exhilarating and strangely liberating.
A little help from the Spirit of Ecstasy
Brendan Mok, regional corporate communications representative of Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific, showed me a neat trick: from the driver’s seat, the Spirit of Ecstasy (the formal name of the hood ornament on every Rolls-Royce car) lines up perfectly with the white lines on the road, indicating that the car is in the correct position while you’re driving. Who knew the Spirit of Ecstasy does more than just stand there and look pretty?
After lunch in Tagaytay, I was given the keys to another set of Rolls-Royce wheels for the trip back. According to Mok, the Ghost supposedly brought the 113-year old brand to new heights when it was launched in 2009. And the principle for its design was simple: to harness the power of simplicity. Just before we took off, Mok illustrated his point: he traced the exterior lines of the Ghost.
“The design of the ghost is very simple,” he said. “You have one main line that goes down the waist of the car. And then the one that comes back, which we call the waft line, which is a distinct feature of every Rolls-Royce. Simple and elegant.”
Although slightly less powerful than the Wraith at just 563 hp, the Ghost is no pushover. Extremely responsive with deft and precise handling, it was just as much exciting and fun as the Wraith, both as a driver and passenger. Heads turned with their mouths open every time I looked at the people on the sidewalks.
Pretty soon, we were back where we started. As I took one last glance at the Ghost, I remembered Mok’s words back up in Tagaytay: Rolls-Royce is bespoke, and bespoke is Rolls-Royce, which means that, when money is no object and you want to celebrate “making it” in this world, it’s entirely possible to fashion the Rolls-Royce car of your dreams. And whether you get to your destination in the back as passenger or out in front as driver isn’t an issue; what matters is the fact that, unequivocally and most assuredly, you’ve finally arrived.