Review: Every EV Concern Melts Away in the Rolls-Royce Spectre

Our correspondent spent three days in the half-million-dollar coupe and found out why Rolls-Royce is the ideal brand for electrification

March 8, 2024 7:05 am
A 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre, the first electric vehicle from the luxury brand, which we tested and reviewed at InsideHook
“In Spectre, we focused on ensuring it was a pure Rolls-Royce first, and then an electric car," says Rolls-Royce's Martin Fritsches.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The executives, designers and engineers of Rolls-Royce throughout the years have disapproved of the term “performance” when applied to their elite creations. They leave such a concept to brands they might consider too flashy, proud and noisy, like Ferrari, Lamborghini or Koenigsegg.

Rolls-Royce prefers words and concepts such as “comfort,” “sophistication,” “poise,” “dignity” and “luxury,” all applied to the maximum level in automotive terms. Boasting a sinister name declaring its kinship with the Phantom, Ghost and Wraith, the 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre is a half-million-dollar, all-electric, ultra-luxury coupe that floats along honoring all of the stately descriptors its builders insist on in every model coming out the Goodwood estate in the U.K.

According to Martin Fritsches, president and CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America, naturally it’s the electrification that made Spectre different in the family, though the car had to qualify first as hyper-luxury to wear the RR badge.

“The ultimate objective is to make a Rolls-Royce motor car luxurious and effortless,” Fritsches says, steering clear of that forbidden “performance” tag. “Especially in Spectre, we focused on ensuring it was a pure Rolls-Royce first, and then an electric car.”

Vehicle2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre
Trim TestedAll units bespoke
Starting Price$422,750
Price of Model Tested$558,700
Vehicle TypeFour-seater electric coupe
MotorsFront and rear, producing 584 hp and 660 lb-ft torque
Range266 miles from 120 kWh lithium-ion battery
AvailabilityAs of 2023, via bespoke orders
  • 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre EV
  • The Spectre EV in a chartreuse paint color
  • The rear end of the Spectre electric car as it drives down the road
  • The doors on the Rolls-Royce Spectre

From the ground up, the Spectre employs a 255-horsepower front motor and 483-hp rear motor, which produces a total of 584 hp on tap — the car pours out ample, smooth power on demand. I’d give you a 0-60 mph time, but I can’t escape the image in my mind of a Rolls-Royce engineer staring disapprovingly down their nose at me for even asking such a question. I can report a top speed of 155 mph, however.

A full charge promises a range of about 260 miles, which is shorter than some luxury rides that pack a distance of more than 300 miles, but not unacceptable for a supreme comfort conveyance weighing a sturdy 6,559 pounds curbside.

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With some automakers that focus more on average consumers like Ford, Toyota or GM slowing down the transition to full electrification, the opportunity to drive via electrons still skews toward the wealthy. Many middle-of-the-road buyers struggle within a public charging environment that suffers from dubious infrastructure and too few plug-in points on the road. Meanwhile, a Spectre buyer’s resources easily allow for an in-house charger in a temperature-controlled garage — and high-end vehicles like it are the immediate future of EVs.

“I can only speak about Rolls-Royce and why this is a perfect fit [for electrification],” Fritsches says. “Rolls-Royce motor cars are known for their silence, their power with controlled torque and the special feeling of the ‘magic carpet ride.’ Electric is even better suited to provide this than internal combustion engines for Rolls-Royce in every factor.”

Fritsches adds that typical Rolls-Royce clients have garages for between five to 10 cars, so their charging is almost exclusively done at home or at the office.

“On average, a Rolls-Royce is used for around 5,000 miles per year and not commonly used for long distances,” he explains. “Combined with the performance, this makes electric a perfect fit for our clients.”

  • The interior of the Rolls-Royce Spectre
  • The dashboard on the first EV from Rolls-Royce
  • Rear seats in the Spectre EV
  • The Starlight Headliner on the Spectre

The novelty of its electric drive system aside, the Spectre is every bit a proper 21st century Rolls-Royce. Appointed in fine leather, hand-stitching, smooth wood, polished stainless steel and ambient internal mood lighting, the driving cabin is a safe and soothing sanctuary.

That sanctuary does earn a quibble, though. The Spectre is a machine of refinement and meticulous style, yet the interior roof includes the now-familiar and well-established Rolls-Royce gimmick featuring thousands of pinhole lights to create a star field canopy above you as you settle in behind the gleaming steering wheel. For a price, the lights can even be arranged to fit the stars that sat above you on the night of your birth. In my model, there were additional streaks of light along the door panels to match. After experiencing them for myself, those details seem flashy and out of place for a car so dignified — more “party limo” than livery vehicle for the rich and powerful.

Starry nights aside, everything else inside the Spectre whispers utter class. Fritsches stresses that electrification might be innovative, but the Spectre is always about that divine comfort first.

“We chose the form of an ultra-luxury super coupe for the design to harken back to the romantic image of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe [built between 2008 and 2016],” he explains. “We wanted to make Spectre special. That means the look, feel and especially the sound (or lack thereof) are critical in ensuring we provide that ‘magic carpet ride’ in a luxurious way.”

In tune with that “lack thereof” line, the Spectre interior is utterly noiseless (unless you ignite the 18-speaker stereo system) thanks to Rolls-Royce’s signature soundproofing. The Spectre keeps the rude and cacophonous world outside as it makes next to no commotion of its own due to its insulated electric motors and electronically sealing doors. The Spectre moves in otherworldly silence — well, almost.

For safekeeping during my three-day Los Angeles test drive, I parked the Spectre deep in the bowels of my hotel where it slept all alone. The silence of that garage space revealed the Spectre does make a subtle sound as it moves: The car sings, whispering a smooth, melodious hum that could otherwise emanate from a flying saucer or, of course, a ghostly spectre. It’s impossible to hear at speed on the street or highway, but it’s there for discerning ears and spaces.

The driving experience could be compared to a well-controlled and very expensive hovercraft — though I admittedly can’t tell you with accuracy how much hovercrafts go for off showroom floors these days. Like every Rolls-Royce, the Spectre believes the road doesn’t matter and shouldn’t present any obstacle to your journey. It puts its vast 23-inch wheels down with all-wheel drive and an elaborate and ever-adjusting air suspension system to remove road sensation from the driving experience. 

Moving in its own comfortably numb cloud of silence and constant comfort, the 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre wants to do more than merely transport you. The car seeks to shelter you from the noise and haste around it, delivering you to your destination feeling better than when you started its electric motors in the first place. All of that high-level design and engineering works to make driving one of the day’s more pleasant activities, regardless of road conditions or all of those lesser cars around you driven by sadder people.

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