2020 ROLLS-ROYCE GHOST
You could almost mistake the new Rolls-Royce Ghost for a ‘normal’ car. From a distance it’s a handsome four-door saloon, far more graceful than the Cullinan and less ostentatious (and smaller) than the Phantom.
But then a closer examination reveals all those delightful touches for which Rolls-Royce is famous. Note the stainless steel polished metalwork, including stately grille, its vanes now subtly lit by 20 LEDs. Note the wonderful absence of visible seams, from A-pillar through roofline and all the way to the tail. It’s like one giant sheet of beautifully formed aluminium. Seamless hand welds are responsible.
This Mk2 version of the best-selling Rolls- Royce ever is genuinely all-new. The only old parts are the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot (now ‘floating’ fetchingly on the bonnet, not atop the Parthenon grille) and the umbrellas housed in the back. Out go carryover components from the BMW 7-series and in comes the same spaceframe modular aluminium chassis used on the Phantom and Cullinan, but configured to suit the Ghost’s smaller size.
Time to drive. The big driver’s door opens effortlessly with power assistance, and a surprisingly simple and elegant cabin greets you. If it were night time, we’d also be greeted by an ‘Illuminated Fascia’ of 850 twinkling stars on the passenger side of the dash. It goes well with the ‘Starlight Headliner’, which twinkles gently above your head by night. The headliner also doubles as a giant ‘exciter’ speaker. Elsewhere we find leather of wonderful craftsmanship and tactility, and handsome open-pore Obsidian Ayous wood.
The engine is the same 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 as the two pricier Rollers but tuned specifically for the Ghost. It starts silently, like an electric motor. A little column stalk delicately selects Drive. On our way from the factory at Goodwood to Hampshire it stays silent, except under hard acceleration when a pleasing V12 growl is just audible. The near absence of wind or road noise – even the tyres have sound deadening – means it’s quieter than any electric car at speed, or any other luxury car bar a Phantom. It’s quick, too, 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds. It’s also astonishingly agile for a car so large, helped by four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering. The steering is fingertip light but direct. Body control, at speed, is outstanding.
Ride comfort is sublime. Rolls’ ‘Flagbearer’ tech uses a forward-facing camera to read the road and adjusts the suspension for upcoming bumps. New front upper wishbone dampers, a surprisingly old-tech mechanical solution, better isolate the front end from bumps. Rolls’ magic-carpet ride has never been smoother.
It’s a wonderful super-luxury car, full of charisma. Sharper and more fun to drive than a Phantom and almost as other-worldly in its refinement. A clear notch or two above anything from Bentley or Mercedes-Benz. More than ever, Rolls-Royce sits at the pinnacle.
And if a starting price of Ј249,600, plus any personalisation (our test car was Ј351,480) is pricey, then it’s still the best-value way to enter motoring’s most elevated world.