- Author Ross Jackson
- Published August 7, 2014
The latest tech… from Rolls-Royce
Nobody likes a squeaky chair. But who spends thousands on an acoustic room that ensures an entirely squeak-free sitting experience? The same people who put Wi-Fi in glove-boxes and use cows from barbed-wire-free fields as decoration… Rolls-Royce. Ross Jackson visits the factory and goes for a ride…
Think about Rolls-Royce and the first word to come into your head is probably “tradition”. But don’t be fooled: the company has combined heritage with the latest in-car (and out-car) tech in its newest and most advanced model, the Wraith.
That combination isn’t just limited to the company’s vehicles, either – even the factory marries traditional craftsmanship with heaps of tech wizardry. Rolls-Royce HQ sits in the heart of the beautiful South Downs National Park, and has an ultra-low impact on the environment thanks to one of Europe’s biggest living roofs and surrounding lakes that act as heat-sinks for the workshops.
The factory floor and surrounding workshops are places of quiet industry with a sense that everyone there knows they are creating something special.
It’s the attention to detail that stands out. Every single seat goes through that acoustic room to test for squeakiness – if it dares utter a sound, it’s gone. There are light chambers to check every surface for imperfections, specialist gyroscopic logos on the wheels… in fact, there’s so much fine-tuning involved that when a car comes to the end of the production line ready to drive, it is actually only 30 per cent finished.
The Wraith is as luxurious as the Phantom that preceded it, but it’s also more dynamic – and more contemporary. A car to drive to the south of France then step out ready for dinner when you arrive.
The specs are suitably mind-boggling. The engine is a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12, which wrenches out a massive 624hp and 800nm of torque… not that you’d notice: inside the cabin it’s silent, and the air suspension keeps the ride beautifully serene (and surprisingly fast). The heads-up display, meanwhile, reminds you that although you’re surrounded by the finest leather and wood, you’re still driving an ultra-modern car.
The future now
And that’s where the tech begins – and, oh, the tech. This car is packed. A big feature is the gearbox – or Satellite Aided Transmission. Yes, a combination of the navigation system and GPS helps the eight-speed gearbox along. The computer works out how you’re driving, where you are, what you’re approaching – such as a hill or a series of bends – and puts the Wraith in the correct gear for you. It works majestically, making a smooth ride even smoother.
The rest of the car’s tech rests within your smartphone. The main interface is a widescreen display controlled by a small touchscreen rotary knob, where the handbrake would normally sit. It’s as intuitive as a smartphone – pinch to zoom, gesture control and so on. There’s even built-in Wi-Fi.
This is a genuine glimpse into future car-tech. From the psychic gearbox (which makes perfect sense to incorporate into less glamorous cars if the cost comes down) to the convenience of a Wi-Fi hotspot – the Wraith will surely make the industry think.
This year’s tech innovations are coming from LG: see LG’s OLED TVs – seriously amazing screen quality and colours. Find out more here >>>
Ross Jackson is one of our new Rising Stars writers. You can read the rest of his stuff here >>>