“The launch of a new Rolls-Royce is an historic event,” says CEO Tom Purves as we sit down to dinner at West Stoke House in bucolic West Sussex, only a few miles from the Rolls-Royce factory on the Earl of March’s estate at Goodwood, and in the very room where design chief Ian Cameron and team spent three months working on the Phantom back in 2000. Not as historic event as it perhaps once was, though: The 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost sedan is the fourth new Rolls-Royce to appear since the imperious Phantom rewrote the rulebook for super-luxury cars in 2003. Or, to put it another way, Rolls-Royce has now launched as many new cars in the 11 years since BMW snatched the storied marque from under the nose of VW Group boss Ferdinand Piech as it had in the previous 50. – from Motor Trend
The specialness of the Rolls resides in its exquisite selection of interior materials. The piano-black trim on the steering wheel, the faux Bakelite, the chrome key window switches and organ-stop vent pulls, the frosted glass around the iDrive indicators, leather and veneers galore. I count among my favorites the luminous blue-white gauges in the instrument cluster—including the cool but irrelevant “power reserve” gauge. Also, the thin-section steering wheel rim—very like a Rolls—wrapped in leather of somebody’s most sacred cow. Rolls says it takes 20 days to put it all together and it seems to me not a minute is wasted. Rolls-Royce has, to my mind, just built its first real car. Here, finally, the promise of the BMW-owned Rolls-Royce is fulfilled, with a car that combines the insuperable technology of the Werks with the enormous charisma and craft of British luxury. Here the Old Saxon tongues, English and German, come together in perfect lyric. – from WSJ
Because Rolls is now under BMW’s stewardship, and because using common parts is essential for a manufacturer’s economies of scale (but mostly because Rolls-Royce admitted that the Ghost shares 20 percent of itself with the BMW 7-series, specifically, the V-12–powered 760Li), it’s tempting to think that the new car is simply an upsized BMW, a 9-series with an available metallic hood. That characterization is a little unfair to this new sedan. The 20-percent commonality hides in the climate-control system, the electrical architecture, parts of the floorpan, and some engine components. Both cars’ twin-turbocharged V-12s come from the same engine family, but the Ghost’s is stroked to 6.6 liters (up from the 760’s 6.0) and gets some revised internals such as a new crank. And whereas the BMW has only air springs at the rear, the Ghost uses adaptive air suspension at all four corners. The Rolls needed a more regal seating position, larger-diameter tires, and coach-style doors, which necessitated more changes. The new overall tire diameter meant new steering and suspension kinematics, and the raised seating position and center-opening doors meant reengineering the donor platform for crash safety. – from Car & Driver
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.