Being that gasoline-powered internal combustion engines are little more than controlled explosions, automakers have spent more than a century attempting to quell their noise and vibration. But more than a century ago, many saw advantages in a different drivetrain. 

“The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration,” wrote Charles S. Rolls, cofounder of automaker Rolls-Royce, in 1900. “They should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged.”

Consider it arranged.

With the arrival of the 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre coupe, the first fully electric Rolls-Royce, its generous dimensions and opulent design boldly declares Rolls-Royce’s initiation into the battery-electric-vehicle (BEV) market. And it does so with typical Rolls-Royce indulgence. In an era where nearly every American is a truck driver, driving dull, practical SUVs, the British luxury automaker’s first salvo in the EV wars is a large, lavish coupe. After all, shlepping stuff in the back of an SUV is so middle class.

Then again, this is not a car for those in the witness protection program. Measuring 215+ inches long, this car makes an unmistakable luxury statement: it’s very much a truly grand touring coupe. Wearing couture that’s unquestionably Rolls-Royce, its design begs for two-toning, which it wears with sophisticated grace. And its absence of body cutlines and the absence of a B-pillar that lend the car’s shape a clean visual eloquence. And while most automakers are diminishing grilles on their EVs, Rolls-Royce fits the widest one ever used by the automaker. 

But its large dimensions yields accommodating room for four. This rear seat’s largesse is not theoretical; there’s genuine room for four. 

And odds are, your Spectre will be unlike any other, as nearly all Rolls-Royce models are now bespoke, with handcrafted interior furnishings as unique as those who buy them. Nonetheless, all cabins share the same alluring poshness. Consider the seatback. It’s wrapped in a single piece of leather that transitions from the seatback to the side panel. Or consider that except for a single item, there is no plastic on the Spectre’s interior. It’s all made of wood, metal and leather. Then there’s the Starlight headliner, a roof panel that emulates the night time sky.  It’s no been expanded to the Spectre’s door panels and the passenger side of the instrument panel. If that’s a bit too much, you can opt for the elegant Canadel paneling made of exotic hardwoods.

Of course, the cabin is not without its clever tricks, such as the umbrella that stows in each door, or the driver’s door that automatically closes when the driver steps on the brake pedal. And let’s not forget the heavenly lamb’s wool floormats.

But inevitably, it will be time to move and that’s when this new-era Rolls-Royce will truly surprise you.

A single-speed transmission and two electric motors generate 584 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque combined. All-wheel drive is standard. Running to 60 mph requires only 4.2 seconds. Given that the average annual mileage of Rolls-Royce owners is 3,200 miles, the anticipated range of 264 miles should be adequate.

The Spectre’s 102-kWh lithium-ion battery pack recharges from 10%-to-80% in 34 minutes using a 195 kW (DC) fast charger, and can produce a 100-km charge, that’s 62 miles, in around nine minutes.

As you’d expect, the Spectre comes with a number of automated driving systems, with the exception of any type of semi-autonomous driving system. Until the technology is perfected, Rolls-Royce will not offer it.

But after driving the Spectre, perhaps the big takeaway is that it’s a Rolls-Royce first and a BEV second. Not surprisingly, it has the smooth, silent demeanor, quick torque, and lack of gear shifts you expect. The acceleration is strong but linear, taking 4.4 seconds to reach 60 mph. You won’t have the same neck-snapping torque that some BEVs do, but this fits the Spectre’s personality perfectly.

Its unearthly ride comes courtesy of a modified version of the Ghost’s Planar Suspension System, which decouples the Spectre’s anti-roll bars and enables each wheel to work independently. This prevents side-to-side shaking and provides the velvety ride you would expect from Rolls-Royce. However, as the vehicle corners, the anti-roll bars recouple, the dampers tighten, and the four-wheel steering engages. It gives this big couple a rare sense of balance and makes them both surprisingly comfortable and agile.

And the classic touches remain, with elegant chrome pulls to control vent airflow, the daintily thin steering wheel, and the power reserve gauge, a sort of backwards tachometer that displays the amount of remaining power while accelerating.

OK, it’s 13 cubic-foot trunk isn’t all that generous, but this is a grand touring coupe. Besides, a Rolls-Royce owner has people to schlep stuff.

Agile, elegant, exquisite, poised and sophisticated, the Spectre expertly captures the spirit of Rolls-Royce BEVs to come. If this what we have to look forward to, bring it on.

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2024-rolls-royce-spectre-review-truly-grand-touringAgile, elegant, exquisite, poised and sophisticated, the 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre expertly captures the spirit of Rolls-Royce BEVs to come. If this what we have to look forward to, bring it on.