Rolls Royce Spectre in Second Testing Phase
In September 2021, Rolls-Royce confirmed that it had commenced testing of the first all-electric Rolls-Royce, Spectre. To ensure Spectre is first and foremost a Rolls-Royce, it will undergo the most demanding testing programme ever conceived by the marque, spanning 2.5 million kilometres, simulating on average more than 400 years of use for a Rolls-Royce. It is an extraordinary undertaking.
Over the past months, Rolls Royce Motors, test and development engineers have shifted their focus from the extreme conditions of Arjeplog, Sweden, to a location that reflects the Spectre's everyday use: the French Riviera.
The Electric Super Coupé will be the first all-electric super-luxury motor car with continental touring central to its proposition. The French Riviera and its roads present a perfect combination of the types of conditions that will be demanded from Spectre's clients, ranging from technical coastal corniches to faster inland carriageways.
Forming a crucial part of Spectre's 2.5 million kilometre global testing programme, a total of 625,000 kilometres will be driven on and around the French Côte d'Azur. This phase is split into two parts, beginning at the historic Autodrome de Miramas proving ground, located in the French department of Bouches-du-Rhône in Provence. Once a circuit that played host to the 1926 Grand Prix, the site is now a state-of-the-art test and development facility, incorporating more than 60 kilometres of closed routes and 20 test track environments that provide a vast number of testing opportunities over its 1,198 acre footprint.
These include irrigation units that create standing water, demanding handling circuits with tight corners and adverse cambers, as well as a heavily banked 3.1 mile three-lane high-speed bowl, enabling Spectre to be tested at continuous high speeds.
The second phase of testing in the region occurs in the Provençal countryside surrounding the Autodrome de Miramas. This region is enjoyed by many of the marque's clients, therefore a significant 55% of testing here has taken place on the very roads that many production Spectres will be driven on following first customer deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2023. This provision for testing under local, real-life conditions is repeated in key markets worldwide, as the marque goes to painstaking lengths to ensure that its products meet – and so often exceed – the expectations of its highly discerning customer group.
Spectre is unlike any Rolls-Royce before it. This is not only because of its fully electric powertrain, but also its unprecedented computing power and application of advanced data-processing technologies. Spectre is the most connected Rolls-Royce ever and each of its components are more intelligent than in any previous Rolls-Royce. It features 141,200 sender-receiver relations and has more than 1,000 functions and more than 25,000 sub functions. This is around three times more sender-receiver signals than a typical Rolls-Royce.
The dramatically increased intelligence of Spectre's electronic and electric powertrain architecture enables a free and direct exchange of detailed information between these functions with minimal centralised processing. Rolls-Royce software engineering specialists developed a decentralised intelligence for Spectre to unlock this technology's potential. This is based on data being processed closer to its source rather than being handled in its entirety by a single central processing unit.
By sending more sophisticated data packets – that not only describe a variable but propose a response – the motor car's reaction time is significantly faster and more detailed. This advanced technology sees much of the development of Spectre pivot from the workshop into the digital space.
Yet developing Spectre is not an exercise in computer science alone. The motor car requires a response to hundreds of thousands of possible scenarios, and therefore it needs the most skilled and experienced specialists to define and finesse an appropriate mechanical reaction. Over the course of the Riviera Testing Programme, the marque's most experienced engineers are painstakingly creating a dedicated control for each of Spectre's 25,000-plus functions, incorporating variations of response depending on factors including weather, driver behaviour, vehicle status and road conditions.
In harnessing this new processing power, the marque's engineers are creating unparalleled levels of detail, refinement and effortlessness for Spectre whilst ensuring continuity in the experience of Rolls-Royce's internal combustion engine motor cars. These highly experienced specialists describe the result as "Rolls-Royce in high definition".
After months of continual testing, new suspension technology has been approved to ensure Spectre delivers Rolls-Royce's hallmark 'magic carpet ride'. This technology is now being refined and perfected at Miramas and on the roads of the French Riviera.
Using a suite of new hardware components and leveraging Spectre's high-speed processing capabilities, this sophisticated electronic roll stabilisation system uses data from the motor car's Flagbearer system, which reads the road surface ahead, and satellite navigation system, which alerts Spectre to upcoming corners.
The system can automatically decouple Spectre's anti-roll bars on straight roads, allowing each wheel to act independently. This prevents the rocking motion when one side of a vehicle hits an undulation in the road. This also dramatically improves high-frequency imperfections in ride caused by more negligible, more frequent shortcomings in road surface quality.
Once a corner is confirmed as imminent by satellite navigation data and the Flagbearer system, the components are recoupled, the suspension dampers stiffen and the four-wheel steering system prepares for activation to ensure effortless entry and exit. Under cornering, more than 18 sensors are monitored, and steering, braking, power delivery and suspension parameters are adjusted accordingly, so Spectre remains stable. For the driver, this delivers serenity, predictability and, ultimately, greater control in unprecedented high definition.
In announcing the redesigned Spirit of Ecstasy mascot that will sit proudly at the prow of Spectre, Rolls-Royce aerodynamicists predicted that the motor car would have a drag coefficient (cd) of just 0.26, making it the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever created. However, the dramatic design of this landmark motor car, which itself is only possible using the marque's spaceframe architecture, has enabled engineers to further improve on this landmark figure.
Following rigorous wind tunnel testing, digital modelling and continuous high-speed testing in Miramas, this figure has been further reduced to just 0.25. This does not just represent a record in the context of Rolls-Royce, but is unprecedented in the luxury sector.
Previous winter testing can be viewed here: