When its time to park your Rolls-Royce Wraith, or large and in charge Cullinan in favor of a proper British Saloon, then you should look no further than the stellar, all new Rolls-Royce Ghost.
Yes, the brilliant minds at Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood craft facility are at it again. Yes, I said “craft facility” my friends, as every bespoke Rolls-Royce model that leaves Goodwood features hand built and hand crafted elements that harken back to the early to mid 1900s when coach building was the norm, not the exception.
For the 2021 model year, the “Ghosts” of legendary Rolls from the past have been summoned to infuse this latest Ghost with all of the luxury, safety, comfort and performance, including stellar handling, one would expect from the marque. Stellar handling in a Rolls? Yes. The first generation Ghost started the trend by Rolls towards the drive-not-driven experience, and it continues in an exceptional way with the new Ghost.
Before we experience the second generation new Ghost, a little Ghost history. The first Silver Ghost was produced in 1906 at the Manchester Works factory. The car, actually registered as the AX 201, was adorned with aluminum paint and featured silver plated fittings. The silver beauty was so quiet, it was named the Silver Ghost because of its “ghost-like” quietness. It is perhaps the most well known early Rolls-Royce model and pristine examples that survive of the 7874 built from 1907 to 1926 regularly command record prices at classic car auctions.
So when the first generation “new” Ghost debuted as a 2010 model, it had to be a Rolls that would show respect to its namesake.
Based on parent company BMW’s 7-Series platform, the new Ghost was smaller and less expensive than the expansive Phantom, and appealed to a younger demographic of successful entrepreneurs and influencers. During its production (2010-20), the first generation Ghost was produced as Series I (2010-13) and Series II (2013-20) models.
The all-new second generation Ghost sheds BMW underpinnings and now features the “Architecture of Luxury” aluminum spaceframe chassis that’s shared with the marque’s flagship Phantom and in-your-face Cullinan SUV. The spaceframe’s flexibility and scalability allows Rolls-Royce to create an acoustically superior, more rigid and dynamically enhanced new Ghost.
The new Ghost frame architecture is based around four fixed points, one at each corner of the car. The moveable aluminum bulkhead, floor, crossmembers and sill panels are all positioned specifically to ensure the new Ghost meets driver and passenger expectations for performance and comfort. Two of the cast suspension mounting assembles were pushed to the very front of the new Ghost, placing its V12 engine behind the front axle to achieve an optimum 50/50 weight distribution.
The gorgeous bodywork that drapes the new Ghost is all aluminum. The car’s outer body is rendered as one clean, expansive piece, flowing seamlessly from the A-pillar, over the roof and backwards to the rear of the car, as the complete absence of “shut” lines allows a silky smooth profile, devoid of ungainly body seams. To achieve this, four craftsmen hand weld the body together simultaneously to ensure a perfectly continuous seam. In addition, 100% aluminum, laser-welded doors have been used. This not only offers weight benefits and enhanced stiffness, but the material has a lower acoustic impedance than steel, improving cabin ambience.
The surprisingly hilly and curvy roads surrounding Austin, Texas served as the test bed for assembled media to dive headfirst into the new Ghost. The new Ghost’s “Planar Suspension System” is the next evolution of the vaunted Rolls “Magic Carpet Ride” suspension system. The Planar System utilizes a second upper wishbone damper above the front suspension assembly, enhancing stability and ride comfort.
The Planar System works in conjunction with the Rolls “Flagbearer” system, which uses cameras to read the road ahead and prepare the suspension system for any changes in the road’s surface, as well as the super cool Satellite Aided Transmission, which analyzes GPS data to pre-select the optimum gear for upcoming corners. Wheel articulation is controlled by continuously variable, self-leveling, high-volume air struts. The system also incorporates a five-link rear axle, all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, stability control and self-drying brakes, to ensure Ghost will deliver a Rolls-Royce experience no matter how aggressively or conservatively you pilot this magnificent road cruiser.
No longer does the Ghost use corporate BMW power. The new 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 is a bespoke Rolls-Royce engine, and outputs 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque (available at just 1600 rpm). The new Ghost is not only a stellar handler, but a 5700 pound road rocket. Sixty miles per hour comes up in 4.3 seconds from a standstill, and 100 mph is reached in just 10.4 seconds. Ghost’s top speed is an electronically governed 155 mph. The looks on the faces of Tesla drivers who just didn’t know a Roller could ball at that clip were priceless during my multi-hour test drive. In summary on performance, this new Rolls sets the luxury bar for driving, not driven performance.
Inside, evening drives should include Don McLean’s “Vincent (a.k.a. the Starry Night song)” playing on the powerful and clean sounding 1300-watt, 18-speaker Bespoke Audio System. You’ll understand when you enter, as you’ll be treated to a light show with the “Starlight Headliner,” a series of 1340 individually hand-woven fiber optic lights that can be configured into the headliner to emulate your favorite constellation. Also, the Illuminated Fascia brings an ethereal glowing Ghost nameplate surrounded by more than 850 stars into the interior suite of the new Ghost. Located on the passenger side of the dashboard, the constellation and wordmark are completely invisible when the car is not in operation. This Bespoke innovation subtly echoes the Starlight Headliner, which has become as much a part of Rolls-Royce iconography as the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, Pantheon Grille and “Double R” monogram.
Rear seat occupants are also in a special zone, as the lower center console houses a Rolls-Royce lead crystal decanter and a pair of Double R glasses. Sommeliers advise that the optimum serving temperature for non-vintage Champagne is 43 degrees Fahrenheit and vintage should be served at 52 degrees Fahrenheit. With that, the Ghost has a refrigerated upper console that houses your favorite bottle of bubbly and a pair of Double R Champagne flutes and operates in two cooling modes, 43 or 52 degrees. If the weather is a bit moist outside, there are no worries old chap as there are Double R emblazoned umbrellas housed in the front “Coach” doors. And if your wallet can handle the load, Bespoke your new Ghost to your own personal specifications, including over 44,000 exterior paint choices.
The Ghost also features a wide array of comfort features that represent the continued push by Rolls-Royce to incorporate state-of-the-art technology in all facets of the Ghost experience. Ghost features include, among others: LED and laser headlights; vision assist, including day and night-time wildlife and pedestrian warning; alertness assistant; a four-camera system with panoramic view, all-round visibility and helicopter view; active cruise control; collision warning; cross-traffic warning; lane departure and lane change warning; high-resolution head-up display; Wi-Fi hotspot; self-park capability; and upgraded navigation and entertainment systems.
Another super hi-tech system won’t be immediately apparent to Ghost rear seat occupants as they can now also open and close the doors with power assistance. You first open the door with one pull of the interior handle, then allow the handle to return to its resting position while you check for potential hazards, and then pull and hold it for full power assistance on opening. Once the door is opened sufficiently to allow egress, simply stop pulling the handle, which engages a door brake.
Once you’ve alighted, you can close the door completely automatically at the push of a button on the exterior door handle. If you prefer to close the door manually, the operation is power assisted. On-board longitudinal and transverse sensors, as well as gyroscopic sensors fitted to each door, allow the same speed of operation regardless of hill or driveway angles. Imagine this happening while parked on a typical San Francisco hill. If you’ve just entered the rear seat, a button on the upper door trim will close the doors without fuss.
With the Coronavirus a daily part of worldwide life, Ghost occupants benefit from the timely introduction of the Microenvironment Purification System (MEPS). Existing air filtration technology was further developed to incorporate a full suite of hardware and software improvements, including highly sensitive Impurity Detection Sensors that detect ambient air quality, automatically switching fresh air intakes to Recirculation Mode if unacceptable levels of airborne contaminants are present. The system channels all cabin air through a nano-fleece filter, which is capable of removing nearly all ultra-fine particles from the Rolls-Royce’s micro environment in less than two minutes. It should be noted that MEPS was developed before the COVID-19 outbreak.
As mentioned earlier, with the new Ghost, Rolls-Royce is making a statement towards a younger demographic. They are also striving to appeal to affluent women, who want to make a statement about their tastes and success. With that, Rolls-Royce recently profiled nine exceptional women across the United States dubbed “Phantom Phenoms.”
Like a Phantom, each of these owners has a commanding presence and have built their own success being the best at what they do. Exhibiting elegance, presence, and compassion, Phantom Phenoms share a passion for their philanthropic efforts that make them stand out in their communities.
During our media experience in Austin, we met Alexandra Park Souto, Co-Founder of Rare Animal and Founder of Women Nation and her husband Esteban Souto at a wonderfully curated dinner at their home in the hills that overlook Austin. The Soutos own a Rolls-Royce Cullinan, and are currently bespoking their new Ghost. The literally had a manual with all of the unique specifications they want in their Ghost that will make their statement. This young couple is the face of the new “Post Opulence” theme for Rolls-Royce.
My tester Ghost carried a base MSRP of $322,500 and an as tested price of $428,250. But if you have to ask…
So toss your jar of Grey Poupon and don a pair of high-end sunglasses and leather driving gloves. This new, driver-oriented Rolls-Royce portends a significant paradigm shift for all future masterpieces from this legendary marque.