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The 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre.Lucas Scarfone/Handout

Wafting along the road in the first all-electric car from Rolls-Royce, the Spectre, is strangely anticlimactic. This glistening $495,600 ingot, a high-priced taste of Rolls-Royce’s electric future, feels much like any other car the British marque has ever made, except slightly better: pulling more vigorously toward the horizon, floating more serenely down the road and feeling more commanding on the highway.

In this uppermost echelon of the car market, the shift to EVs will have little impact on the planet. So why is this Spectre now haunting the streets? It’s here because clients would like a Rolls-Royce to drive unrestricted into downtown zero-emission-zones in cities like Paris, London and Amsterdam.

The electric Rolls is also here because it’ll sell. (Not that the company needs it; the firm delivered a record-breaking 6,021 vehicles globally in 2022 and is on track to set a new sales records in Canada this year, according to Matt Wilson, the company’s Canadian general manager.)

And, finally, the Spectre is here because nothing and nobody escapes the winds of change blowing through the auto industry.

It is not here, however, to save the planet. As if to underscore that fact, a recent press junket for the launch of the Spectre involved flying writers by helicopter from Toronto to Niagara wine country for test drives. I’m guessing the people who will buy this car have a collective carbon footprint somewhere in the ballpark of Saskatchewan.

To be honest, it hasn’t really mattered what was under the hood of a Rolls in a long time. Cylinder count and horsepower numbers were never the brand’s core appeal. I’d bet plenty of owners don’t know or care what kind of power unit is motivating their behemoths so long as it provides enough kick to comfortably outrun the plebs. It could be a steam engine with Lilliputian men under the hood shovelling coal into a tiny furnace. Or, as happens to be the case here, it could be a big battery and some fifth-generation electric drivetrain components developed with parent company BMW Group.

That said, the numbers are worth a look because they’re silly. The huge 102-kilowatt-hour battery weighs 700 kilograms, roughly the weight of a fully grown bison. The whole car tips the scales at 2,890 kilograms, less than the Hummer EV and roughly on par with the Ford F-150 Lightning. So, it’s porky, but never feels it on the road. The Spectre can sprint to 100 kilometres an hour in 4.5 seconds, owing to dual motors that whip up 584 horsepower and 644 lb-ft of torque.

Even more so than Rolls-Royce’s flagship Phantom sedan – which I believe was until now the best luxury car in the world – driving the electric Spectre feels effortless, intuitive, almost like a dream where you’re able to fly.

Nothing disturbs the calm. Even the turn signal noise is muted compared to the click-clack click-clack in your average family hauler. It gets almost too quiet if you switch off the car’s faux engine noise. And, unlike many other heavyweight EVs, the Spectre rides smoothly over rough roads, floating undisturbed across all but the sharpest impacts.

Range is rated at 418 kilometres on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard. The Lucid Air sedan offers roughly double the range at half the cost, but I suspect that doesn’t matter to any would-be Spectre buyers.

Anybody dropping $500,000 – really more like $600,000 after options – on a two-door coupe is going to have other cars for extended road trips and off-road adventures. The average Rolls customer owns seven cars, according to the company. Charging at home isn’t an issue, since those customers will likely have palatial garages. Range isn’t (much) of an issue because the average Rolls is only driven 5,150 kilometres a year. If there’s a need to drive more than 400 kilometres, I’d imagine you’d simply take one of the other six cars in your garage.

I do have some nits to pick, though. If I were spending a half-million dollars on a car, I’d demand a more special-looking dashboard and maybe updated buttons and knobs, too. (The Spectre’s cabin shares the same basic materials and design as Rolls’ entry-level Ghost, which costs $100,000 less.) And, for my money, I’d also prefer a four-door sedan because they’re more usable day-to-day, which is where EVs shine.

Also, it’s a shame Rolls’ first EV will be missing out on BMW’s upcoming sixth-generation EV architecture, coming in 2025, which will include faster 800-volt charging capability and new batteries that offer more range for less weight.

Still, the Spectre is more than good enough to earn the seventh spot in the garages of 0.01 per centers the world over.

Tech specs

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The Spectre feels much like any other car the British marque has ever made, except slightly better.Lucas Scarfone/Handout

2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre
  • Base price/as tested: $495,600/$600,000 (estimate)
  • Engine: dual-motor electric
  • Transmission/drive: Single-speed/all-wheel drive
  • Energy consumption Litres-equivalent per 100 kilometres: 3.0 highway, 3.3 city, on 23-inch wheels
  • Alternatives: A cozy ski chalet, 12 Chevrolet Bolt EVs or a generous donation to an environmental charity

Looks

As a rule, pillarless coupes (as this is) always look good, especially if they’re painted a muted chartreuse. This one looks similar to the discontinued Rolls-Royce Wraith coupe, despite the fact that the Spectre rides on a completely different platform.

Interior

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The doors are 1.5 metres long, Rolls-Royce’s biggest ever.Lucas Scarfone/Handout

As ridiculous as this sounds, the Spectre’s cabin feels like it belongs in a $350,000 car, not a $500,000 one. It’s too similar to the “entry level” Rolls-Royce Ghost.

Performance

More than adequate. A switchable one-pedal driving mode offers a supremely smooth driving experience.

Technology

The infotainment system and driver assistance features aren’t breaking any new ground, but check out those doors: they’re 1.5 metres long, Rolls-Royce’s biggest ever, and include a G-force sensor that enables the motorized doors to open and shut at the same speed whether the car is parked on a steep hill or flat ground.

Cargo

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The car's cabin shares the same basic materials and design as Rolls’ entry-level Ghost, which costs $100,000 less.Lucas Scarfone/Handout

There’s a generous trunk but only four seats in the cabin. But what four seats they are.

The verdict

It doesn’t matter. They’ll sell them all.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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