2023 Rolls-Royce Spectre Preview: A Spectacular Future?

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer Singapore gets an exclusive look into Rolls-Royce’s electric transformation through an experience with the brand’s first EV, the Spectre coupe

Provence, France 

“It has to be a Rolls-Royce first, and an electric vehicle second. That means no compromises anywhere, in quality, in driving, in design…everything.”

Rolls-Royce’s CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, says this is the most important thing about the company’s first full-production electric vehicle (EV), the Spectre.

A fully-electric Rolls-Royce is the obvious thing to do. Arguably no other brand in the upper-crust of motoring fits electric power better, since the priority of a car with the Spirit of Ecstasy on the bonnet has always been the opposite of ear-ringing, neck-straining performance. A deep well of smooth power, poised handling, and extreme refinement, are things that electric drivetrains can promise more easily than vibration-filled combustion engines. 

Rolls-Royce’s CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös

It’s obvious, but far from simple. Firstly because the car will be without the traditional heart of a Rolls-Royce, a V12 engine. And secondly because with Spectre, Ötvös and his team don’t seem content in just making a Rolls-Royce that happens to be an EV, but a Rolls-Royce that brings the brand into a new age with electronically-charged ‘high definition’ driving.

From what we found out first hand, it looks well poised to deliver on that promise. 

From there to eternity 

Even the Spirit of Ecstasy on Spectre has been slightly changed – for better aero.

Rolls-Royce invited CarBuyer to experience the Spectre as a passenger, both on Miramas test track and the roads of the French Riviera.  CarBuyer has driven, and ridden in, test prototypes here before, including the BMW i8 and BMW 330e, but those were projects near completion.   

Rolls Royce’s fastidiousness means we’ve never done the same in a Rolls-Royce prototype, let alone one this early in its forming: Spectre is not even a year into its development and only 40 percent done. In fact it’s so larval that Rolls-Royce hasn’t released any confirmed performance specs for the car yet, so we don’t have any black-and-white about its range, acceleration, or more. 

What we do know is that Spectre, when it launches in late 2023, will bring many firsts. It’s the first electric Rolls-Royce, the first super-luxury segment EV, and will likely be the only car in that segment for some time as well.

It will be a coupe, the same size as the Phantom Coupe (from 2016, the car’s ‘spiritual predecessor’ says Rolls-Royce). Yes, it’s a coupe and not a limo because the company is aiming for a bigger impact, something ‘emotional and exciting’ in Müller-Ötvös’ words.

2011 Rolls-Royce 102 EX

Rolls-Royce isn’t a stranger to electricity in its long history, and Spectre isn’t Rolls-Royce’s first EV either. That was the 102 EX from 2011, an electric Phantom concept built to test customer demand. Journalists loved it, but the 102 EX’s range – around 200km – was the compromise clients couldn’t accept and that kept it a spiritual project.  

Charles Rolls in the Columbia Electric Carriage

Company founder Henry Royce was an electrical engineer, with electric motors from his company making their way into cranes and – highly likely – cars too. In 1900, the other founder, Charles Rolls, tested an electric Columbia carriage and said: “They are perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration and they should become very useful for town use when fixed charging stations can be arranged. But for country use I do not anticipate they will be very serviceable – at least not for many years to come.”

122 years on, the time has well and truly come. 

High wire tension

No doubt Spectre will have the same presence all Rolls-Royces have, but confirmation on that will have to wait because of the camouflage – the words are from Mr Rolls as you probably figured – but the Spectre isn’t short on size, even with the eye-bending suit on. It’s the same size as the Phantom Coupe, or 5.6-metres long, and nearly two-metres wide.

Spectre next to two Phantom limos. It’s not that much smaller

In the broad strokes it appears to be much more sleek though, especially with a more rounded nose, and unlike the Phantom Coupe’s three-box shape, the rear plunges downward in an elegant coupe style. We can’t see it clearly, but the side of the car stretching from the A-pillar to the taillights is a single piece of bodywork, the longest aluminium ‘deep draw’ piece made by Rolls-Royce to date. 

Rolls-Royce makes its own fashion, as the palace-on-wheels Phantom shows, but in this it has to bend to physics, because superior aerodynamics are a key factor for EV range. There’s no mention of size or range, as we’ve said, but the company did reveal that it will use the largest capacity battery available from the BMW Group. 

BMW’s fifth-gen drive technology, already a success in the impressive iX, iX3, and i4, was the base which Rolls-Royce worked with to develop Spectre’s drivetrain. We expect dual motors, at least 600hp, a battery pack of at least 110kWh and a range of at least 500km since Spectre is slated to be a grand-touring coupe. 

Technical Spec-tre : What we know so far

Large, super-luxury coupe with elegant design 
0.25 Cd, the lowest to date for a Rolls-Royce 
Balanced front/rear weight distribution

Uses Rolls-Royce bespoke spaceframe architecture 
30 percent increase in stiffness using battery pack 
New proprietary intelligent suspension system
Active roll bars, air suspension, all-wheel steering

New ‘distributed intelligence’ electronic architecture
Thrice as much data bandwidth over current cars 

Electric Drivetrain 
Developed with BMW Group, fifth-gen e-drive tech as basis 
Will use the largest battery pack available from BMW Group

CarBuyer’s Guess:
Expect a coupe around 5.6-metres long, in excess of 2.5-tonnes, 0-100km/h in five seconds or less, top speed 200km/h. Battery pack of around 120kWh will deliver approximately 500km of range.

Page 2: The quietest EV ever?

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Coupe electric EV luxury phantom Rolls-Royce spectre super luxury

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's chief editor brings 15 years of experience in automotive journalism. Previously, he was the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. He's contributed to The Business Times, Today, and many other publications, and also covered technology as editor of Stuff magazine. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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