Rolls-Royce Ghost - Driven
It's a pretty momentous occasion when Rolls-Royce launches a new model. And after the Phantom, a completely new car out of a completely new factory form a completely new company (BMW effectively bought just the name...) of a dozen years ago, the Ghost caters for an altogether new market segment. Whilst the vast Phantom is really in limousine territory - except for the Coupe and Convertible versions, the 4-door Ghost is a whole size smaller.
That means it's just very big. The size of a big Bentley or a long wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class. I had the good fortune to drive one for a day, through the beautiful West Sussex region in England. Having been driven to the factory in a Phantom - and I've driven several of them - the Ghost is positively more usable. Whilst it is unquestionably a large car, it's the model for an owner-driver, not for a chauffeur. The more compact dimensions add a usefulness and sporting feel - relatively.
That said, it doesn't miss out on anything. In fact the new twin-turbocharged high-tech 6.5-litre V12 engine gives exceptional performance for a car twice the weight of a Hippopotamus. Zero-100km/h in 4.7 seconds. That's impressive! And with such vast reserves of torque, the acceleration is always available and comes completely easily. The 8-speed automatic transmission handles thing in an exemplary manner - you couldn't ask for a better transmission.
The Ghost sits very nicely on the road, with brilliant isolation from irregularities on the road surface. The vast tyres offer plenty of grip in tighter cornering or wafting around fast bends.
The seats offer a rare level of comfort – but it is a Rolls-Royce... Passengers in the back are offered space and comfort outshone by very few cars. Although the Ghost is the 'little Rolls-Royce' it still offers huge rear space. The seat is set back from the door aperture – unlike most cars where the wheelarch intrudes and passengers' shoulders are against the door itself. The rear hinged doors make access a doddle and a button on the rear pillar lets the door shut electrically negating the need to reach forward to pull it shut manually. Beautiful.
The rear seat passengers have a controller in the fold-down armrest and folding tray tables set into the front seatbacks also feature large screens – about the size on a laptop. The back is certainly a place in which anyone would feel pretty special.
Up front, it's at least as good. There are the same beautiful finishes and colours and details throughout. The readout below the instruments showing the date, mileage and other details are lit in a stylish font. The double width screen in the centre of the dashboard is remarkable too.
The wide screen not only shows the navigation map and the many programmes for controls, but has a remarkable new system for parking. In addition to the view from the rear parking camera, there's a helicopter view of the surroundings – displayed simultaneously on either side of the screen. Using cameras and a clever computer programme, it shows live what's around the car's sides and rear, plus shows the car's trajectory based on steering angle.
The interior of the Ghost is an inspiring place to be. Even aside from the technology and features, the shapes, textures and colours work beautifully making a very special environment.
If there's anything I'd criticise it's the huge door mirrors, the size of which apparently complies with EU regulations, but block far too much outward view. Aside from that the Ghost is most certainly a beautiful car to drive, for its comfort, for the attention to detail in its design and fit-out and for the driving characteristics of the machine itself.
Rolls-Royce most certainly doesn't cut any corners in the build process - having seen inside the factory and their finished products, the old claim of 'the best car in the world', certainly on the standards of quality and attention of detail, stands. Nobody could be disappointed. The options and 'Bespoke" changes available are limitless, and almost all cars come out of the Goodwood factory with something different.
As the spiritual successor to revered classic Silver Shadow and the Silver Spirit of the '80s, there can be no doubt why the Ghost has already become such a success.
Postscript: I've since driven the updated Ghost, and the minor changes throughout only enhance the pleasure to be derived from driving the car.
Engine type: 6592 cc V12 twin turbo
Power: 420kW at 5250rpm
Torque: 780Nm at 1500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Performance: 0-100km/h 4.7 seconds
Price: $695,000 at time of writing
Text & Photos - Paul Blank (copyright)
Photos copyright Paul Blank/CarOpinion