A Ghostly Tale – Time Spent With Rolls-Royce’s New Saloon
I have been lucky enough over the years to spend some time behind the wheel of the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Always a delight, the memories never fade.
There was little wrong with the old model but that has not stopped the good folk at Goodwood from going back to the drawing board and completely reinventing the car. Looks may be deceptive but I am told that the only carry over parts are the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot and the bespoke door umbrellas.
The new Ghost now shares its platform with the Cullinan and that means that the car’s considerable power is now sent to all four wheels. Traction is therefore much improved and this makes the Ghost far more usable in adverse weather conditions, such as those experienced during my time behind the wheel.
Under that long bonnet sits a familiar 6.75-litre V12 twin-turbo engine, producing a heady 571PS and generating 850Nm of torque. These staggering figures help explain how a car weighing some 2,490kg can sprint from 0 to 60mph in less than five seconds. Not many cars will keep up, in a straight line at least.
Overtaking manoeuvres can be undertaken at the merest twitch of the right foot, just enough to ensure the eight-speed gearbox drops a cog or two. There is no rev counter, just an ‘available power’ gauge so you will not be able to watch the revs rise and fall.
That lovely engine is all but inaudible too, only making its presence felt if you have the audacity to bury your foot deep into the lambs’ wool carpets and even then, the cultured tones are to be savoured.
Rolls-Royce say the new Ghost is their most focussed driver’s car, yet I would respectfully suggest that the adaptive dampers which form part of the sophisticated air suspension system are more geared towards ride comfort than outright handling. A system of cameras scan the road ahead and set up the suspension in advance to cope with what is to come.
The result is a car that rides with the utmost grace, smoothing out all but the very worst sections of road. A deep pothole can create a rather unseemly thud, a result of low-profile tyres and 21-inch wheels. For the most part you will not find a better riding car.
Subjected to some of my favourite test routes, the Ghost can be hustled along at a fair old lick. There is a tad too much body roll, the Ghost being happier driven in a more relaxed manner. One you get into its rhythm, the Rolls can cover ground with alacrity. Care must be taken on some of the narrower UK roads as the Ghost is over two metres wide, which I must confess gave me a few breathe-in moments.
The steering is light, which makes low speed manoeuvring a doddle, but at speed it is somewhat devoid of feel, making the car a tad difficult to place on the road with any great accuracy.
I think I can say with certainty than Rolls-Royce make the best interiors. The very finest of materials are used throughout and the possibilities to customise endless. The colour of leather and the type of wood used are all to be decided by the lucky owner and the options list is extensive. Get carried away and you can easily add £100,000 to the asking price. Bespoke, at a price.
I am told that half of all Ghost buyers expect to be driven and the rear compartment is really rather special. The seats are electrically adjustable and can be had with a massage function, ideal after a hard day in the boardroom. Heating and cooling controls are fitted and if that is not enough the champagne can be chilled in the fitted cool box.
Twin screens are fitted with controls in the central armrest. Watch a little TV, surf the internet or listen to a little light music. Picnic tables are also fitted.
With no one to drive me around, I had to make do with the driver’s seat, itself a perch of great comfort and infinitely adjustable. The view out is imperious, the long bonnet stretching out ahead.
There has been a conscious effort by Rolls-Royce designers to simplify the interior, so the dashboard has been decluttered with less buttons than before. Less to overtax and complicate the driving experience.
One of the most remarkable attributes of the new Ghost is the almost complete absence of interior noise, no matter what the speed of travel. Over 100kg of sound deadening material is fitted, and boy does it work. At motorway speeds the car is whisper quiet – no road noise, no wind noise. I travelled many a mile with no radio on, a chance to enjoy the sound of silence.
The Ghost has no discernible rivals. The new Bentley Flying Spur (recently tested and a review to come) is probably the closest. Even with the options fitted to my test car, it still listed at ‘only’ £200,000. It is a better driver’s car, its adjustable suspension allowing a more sporting drive when in the mood.
However, when it comes to that feeling of ultimate luxury, the new Ghost is a notch above, and so it should be given the price differential.
Rolls-Royce tell me that the average owner (if there is such a thing) will own eight to twelve cars, the Ghost most likely doing its duty when an evening out at a fine restaurant or party is the order of the day. Driving it made me feel special, and had I been able to carry passengers, I am sure they would have felt equally enthused.
For those with the very deepest of pockets, a new Ghost will sit nicely alongside a collection of supercars and classics. And if that were my charmed life, I would happily spend some of my many millions at my nearest Rolls-Royce dealership, well just for starters anyway…
Price (including options) £350,970
571PS 6.75-litre V12 engine
0-60mph in 4.6 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Combined economy 18.6mpg (on test 17.5mpg)
Emissions 347- 358g/km CO2
Midnight Sapphire paintwork
Arctic White/Navy Blue leather interior
Open Pore Circassian Walnut Veneer
Pictures by Will Larmour of Route 65 Photography – www.route65photo.com