Although Rolls-Royce likes to celebrate its history and legacy, it isn’t afraid to make some significant changes every now and then. Late last year, the automaker revealed its plan to introduce the Spectre in 2023, a fully electric vehicle with the quintessential flair, luxuriousness and presence of a Rolls. But designing an EV means prioritizing efficiency, and to do that, the Spectre will feature a new look for its leading lady, the Spirit of Ecstasy to improve aerodynamics.
The hood ornament is now 87.73 millimetres shorter than the 100-millimetre-high previous model. The new look also has her bending forward more at the waist as though she’s ducking the incoming air. She also has one foot ahead of the other and bent knees.
It’s not the first time the ornament has been redesigned in the brand’s 111-year history, but it has become iconic over the years. It’s a big deal for Rolls-Royce to redesign it at this point because it shows how seriously the company is taking electrification.
The Spirit of Ecstasy is the most famous and desirable automotive mascot in the world, says Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. “More than just a symbol, she is the embodiment of our brand and a constant source of inspiration and pride for the marque and its clients,” he explains. “Like our brand, she has always moved with the times while staying true to her nature and character.” In her new form, he notes she is more streamlined and graceful, making her the perfect emblem for the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever.
When the trademark was first granted back in 1911, she was 180 millimetres tall. The automaker made her a bit smaller in the 1960s and redesigned her robes. The new robes are more defined and flow behind her rather than to the sides. The automaker says the overall look for the sculpture is more closely resembles the drawings by Charles Sykes, the original creator, illustrator, and sculptor of the Spirit of Ecstasy.
As a result of these changes, the early prototypes of the Spectre boast a 0.26 coefficient of drag, good enough to be the most efficient Rolls-Royce ever. The automaker can trim that figure even further before the vehicle’s debut next year.
Although the Spirit of Ecstasy became an official part of Rolls-Royce 111 years ago, she represents a spiritual direction for the brand” says Rolls-Royce design director Anders Warming. “Her form perfectly captures the marque—she leans forward, expressing our relentless pursuit of progress, and her dress gracefully flows in the wind, echoing the serenity of our products in motion. For Spectre and beyond, she becomes lower and more focused, braced for unprecedented speed and the exciting future her presence will define.”
The new ornament will premiere on the Spectre EV when it arrives in 2023. After that, it will be found on the hoods of all new Rolls-Royces, letting us all get to know it.