Nearly fell at the first fence with this week’s road test. Our subject under the magnifying glass is the new Rolls-Royce Ghost – the less opulent and extravagant member of the range.
My colossal near blunder was to have almost come out with the ridiculous statement that this Rolls is a bit of a bargain (albeit with the caveat that it’s reasonably priced when compared to a supercar like a McLaren or Ferrari).
Trouble is I hadn’t thoroughly read the specification sheet for our test car. The list price for the Ghost is £208,000 – then I spotted the options list which adds a staggering £83,000 to the total. But the real shocker is that this doesn’t include local taxes, so we’re now up to about £360k.
Er… some entry-level model.
But with the sordid business of money behind us, let’s have a look at this magnificent motor.
The previous generation Ghost was built upon BMW’s 7-Series platform and was therefore steel.
The new car, however, uses the same aluminium platform used for the Phantom and Cullinan SUV.
This has saved considerable weight which the designers and engineers have added back in by fitting extra sound deadening material (108kg of it) and other pieces there solely to make the Ghost the quietest and most comfortable luxury car money can buy. One of these parts is a 3kg lump of steel added to the upper front suspension wishbones to dampen out vibrations over bumps.
Underneath the bonnet sits a twin-turbo 6.75-litre V12 engine that replaces the previous Ghost’s 6.6-litre engine. Rolls used to avoid talk of horsepower but these days is happy to tell us this engine produces 563bhp and 627lb ft of torque.
As they used to say at Rolls-Royce, the power is “adequate”.
This is no facelift of the old car. The Ghost now has four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering as standard so is more technically sophisticated than its Phantom big brother.
The team that designed the new Ghost describes its styling as ‘post opulent’ – less showy than other luxury cars. I’d say they’ve achieved that. The short front overhang is interesting, as is the way designers have kept panel joints to a minimum to give the impression the side is one big panel.
The radiator grille now has a one-piece surround and the flying lady rises up through the bonnet itself instead of being on top of the radiator.
There is of course a touchscreen but many operations are carried out via old fashioned controls. It’s the opposite of a Tesla. I’d have gone further and not bothered with a digital dashboard and would have instead used watch-like analogue dials.
The quality of the interior, as you’d expect, is wonderful. Our car has white leather upholstery.
Stitching is kept to a minimum. One of our car’s options is the ‘starlight’ headliner with hundreds of little LEDs in it to make it look like the galaxy. It’s more tasteful than it sounds.
All the technology to make this Ghost smooth and silent has worked. The engine is barely audible and the gearbox is super slick. The four-wheel steering means changing direction at speed is nimble, and makes parking less cumbersome. For many owners, however, that will be the chauffeur’s problem.
What drivers and passengers alike will love is the great results of the engineers’ work to make the Ghost tackle even the bumpiest British roads with hardly any disruption or noise.
It is without question one of the most comfortable cars in the world. Pity about the price, but then the comfort is that luxury cars, including Rolls-Royces, depreciate heavily. It just might take a decade or two before this one becomes affordable.
Engine: 6.75-litre 12-cylinder petrol, 563bhp
Fuel consumption: 18.8mpg
Bentley Flying Spur
Brand new model that gives the Ghost a good fight for less money. £170,530
Merc S-Class given the Maybach treatment. About to be replaced so hold fire. £183,285
Vorsprung If you’re on a budget this is still a fabulously comfortable luxury car. £116,430