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Rolls-Royce Wraith will be top seller

A more menacing Ghost is haunting the dreams of the uber-rich and Rolls-Royce predicts it will be its most popular vehicle with Australian buyers.

The fastback-styled Wraith coupe is being promoted as a driver’s car, a departure from the traditional Rolls line-up where the owner tends to appreciate the ambience from the rear seats. Backing up the looks is the most powerful engine ever installed under the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot. The twin-turbo V12 applies 465kW/800Nm to the rear wheels to give the luxury coupe a 0-100km/h time of 4.6 seconds.

The car rides on a shortened and widened Ghost platform and is a visually stunning vehicle. The teardrop silhouette transforms the donor car’s stately sedan looks into a genuinely sporty vehicle. Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific general manager Dan Balmer says the Australian preference for performance vehicles extends even to this rarefied end of the market.

“We believe the Wraith will be preferred car in the range and our Australian customers also have a very high uptake of bespoke personalisation,” he says. Bespoke treatments - ranging from the expected custom interior and exterior colours to almost any whim the buyer decrees - will add to the $645,000 base price and extend the delivery time beyond early 2014.

Australian vehicles will include a birds-eye camera and satellite-assisted eight-speed automatic transmission. The former is to ensure the Wraith isn’t damaged when parking, while the latter provides a predictive application of gearing: matching the transmission to the terrain and the vehicle’s velocity.

The pair of doors are rear-hinged and close with the push of a button while the interior is bedecked in open-grain wood veneer panelling, the “starlight” headliner that uses tiny LEDs to simulate a night sky and a multifunction screen. There is no touchscreen functionality: that might leave “unsightly fingerprints ate driver and passenger eye level” according to the press release.

The air suspension has been adapted to provide a more engaging drive when going hard without sacrificing the Rolls-Royce “waftability” that isolates the four occupants from potential jostling on back roads - spilling one’s martini would spoil not just the mood but the acres of leather throughout the cabin.