Wheels - Spooky Smooth

The quiet Ghost slips perfectly into the Rolls-Royce line



The Rolls-Royce Ghost

ANDREW YEADON

You might reasonably expect anything with the name Ghost to have an ethereally light touch, be whisper quiet, and offer supernatural levels of speed and agility. But to expect that of a 5,450-pound, very large, four-door car is probably pushing it a bit. Unless that car is a new Rolls-Royce.

It may be the junior car in the three-model RR range; but other than in price, the Ghost is in few (if any) ways overshadowed by its larger siblings: the Phantom and Drophead Coupé. While it might lack the full sense of occasion of the larger cars, the Ghost still offers the same effortless style and all of the luxury and comfort, while at the same time delivering a level of performance and handling never seen before by a car sporting the Spirit of Ecstasy.

Part of the reason for this almost unseemly, nearly Bentley-like performance is that around a fifth of the car’s components, all of which you cannot see, are borrowed from the parent company BMW’s new swift and smooth 7 Series. That means the Ghost sports a glass-smooth V12 that, even at its most extended, never raises its voice above a whisper, yet has the power to propel this rolling library of a car from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 155 mph.

It also means that you can corner, thanks to fully interactive air suspension, without spilling your drinks quite as much. It’s still no sports car, as you’ll find if you really ask it to get out of its comfort zone. But compared with all the Rolls-Royces that have gone before it, it feels like a Ferrari.

As odd as it may seem, that is exactly what Rolls-Royce intended. Considering the trend for people buying luxury cars of $200,000-plus wanting to drive themselves (take the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG as an example) and combining that with a demand for supreme luxury and everyday usability, the Ghost slots precisely into place in customers’ hearts and minds.

The interior offers little in the way of fussy detail, leaning toward a subtly modern reinterpretation of the classic Roller layout. You access the front seats by doors that open normally, the rear thrones via a pair of opposing portals, complete with pop-out umbrellas, just like on the Phantom.

The view from behind the wheel is neither as lofty nor as intentionally distant from the road, though. In the Ghost, you feel far more linked to reality than in the Phantom, in which the outside world feels a million miles away whichever seat you’re occupying.

The steering wheel is smaller and of thicker gauge, the dials and instruments simpler and laid out in a more contemporary style. It feels like there’s more glass and less metal around you. So the net effect is that you tend toward actively driving the Ghost than just wafting along in a pleasantly detached haze, as you do in the Phantom. It’s still unmistakably a Rolls-Royce; it’s just a lot more orientated toward driving than being driven.

That’s not to say it’s without the traditional Rolls-Royce interior flair — far from it. The rear seats, which feel a touch larger than the Phantom’s, are, if anything, more comfortable and supporting. The leather might be a touch firmer, for better wear; and there a fewer dedicated switches, a version of BMW’s iDrive taking care of central controls via a rotary knob. But there are still lashings of painstakingly matched veneer; perfectly weighted, chrome organ stops to control the air vents; and carpets so deep you can hardly see your feet.

Likewise, the exterior of the Ghost is also immediately recognizable as a Rolls, despite the lack of the full-size, classic chrome grille. It shares its larger sibling’s visual ability to appear much smaller than it is in reality, which could be attributable to any one of the key details (such as the raked pillars or the perfect positioning of the wheels to the mass of the car), but is probably due to the overall finely tuned sense of proportion. Whatever it is exactly, it works perfectly.

And the final fact in its favor is that, being a true Rolls, the Ghost can be ordered pretty much in any color you want inside and out. You might have to wait a couple of extra months and hand over the cash equivalent of a small sports car to indulge your wishes. But if you want it, chances are it can be done.

Not that you have to spend this extra time and money to make a Ghost a pleasure to own and drive. Even in a relatively standard specification, it still offers more spiritual pleasures than a garage full of lesser cars — which is what you would reasonably expect of any car from Rolls-Royce, particularly one called Ghost.

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