1800 miles in a Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge

1800 miles in a Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge
1800 miles in a Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge

Tackling the best hairpins in Europe in the most driver-focused Rolls-Royce yet

We recently grabbed the opportunity to drive the remarkable Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge 1,800 miles from Munich to Romania’s stunning, Transfargarasan pass. Once described as “the best road in Europe”, the hairpin-strewn highway is the perfect match for this superlative £300,000 Rolls, which enhances the marque’s accustomed luxury and prestige with sharper engine responses, honed suspension and 21-inch carbon fibre-rimmed wheels. The exterior styling is bolder than usual, too, thank to a shining black grille and flying lady.

The most driver-focused Rolls-Royce yet is derived from the 20cm-longer Ghost saloon, and boasts a 624bhp 6.6-litre V12 and a 0-60mph sprint time of only 4.3 seconds. A four-day round road trip promised much fun, and as we passed from Germany into Austria and settled into our stride, the car’s abilities really started to impress. For seven hours and 430 miles it cruised with aplomb through Austria and onto Budapest in Hungary, averaging 18mpg.

Rolls-Royce Wraith

The next day’s target was to reach Sibiu, just to the north of the Transfargarasan pass. Our progress across the Romanian border looked shaky for a while; our posh car and photocopied documents caused much confusion among the guards. But eventually they waved us through on to 100 miles of EU-funded straight roads, fine surfaces and gradual corners. The Rolls was in its decadent element. These were followed by a terrifying 40 miles on ‘traditional’ Romanian roads, complete with traditional Romanian driving habits. Sibiu couldn’t arrive too soon, even if the Wraith Black Badge has a habit of shrinking time and space.

We decided to hit the pass straightaway, first climbing gently, and then steeply through those legendary hairpins, devouring the occasional straight and watching as the trees thinned out above 5,000 feet to be replaced by towering rock walls. Nothing phased the Rolls, not even when, ignoring ‘Road Closed’ signs at a concrete tunnel, we powered on past evidence of recent rockfalls and avalanches. The Wraith took the countless opportunities to prove its incredible grip, cornering prowess, controlled body roll and ability to stay on line through the most brisk of corners.

Marvelling at the extraordinary views, we rounded a final left-hander and came across the Cabana Paltinu ski lodge atop the pass; once Ceausescu’s hunting lair, it is foreboding in the summer, let alone in the depths of winter. Upon learning that the road back down the other side of the pass was blocked with snow, we decided to stay for the night. After all, who could resist those views, the fresh air, that sunset and those stars?

Tomorrow was another day. A 900-mile drive back to Munich awaited us – and we couldn’t wait.

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