Whisper it softly. For the super-rich who want to shout less about their wealth – without entirely giving up too much of the good life – Rolls-Royce has launched a near silent second generation of its best-selling Ghost limousine.
And to ensure occupants travel in serene comfort, every component of the ethereal new Ghost has been specially acoustically ‘tuned’ so that it runs on the road with a mere ‘whisper’.
Aimed at well-heeled customers who like to drive themselves for pleasure as well as being chauffeur-driven for business, in a more compact Rolls-Royce, the guiding light of the new Ghost’s creation has been to produce a visually less ostentatious and more ‘minimalist’ luxury car with more understated styling and less boastful bling.
Ghost from the future: The first-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost, launched in 2009, went on to become the brand’s best-selling model. Now there’s a new one, and it promises a better – and quieter – ride, more technology and understated luxury
Revealing the new Ghost to the world, Royce-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös said: ‘In today’s world where many people are seeking increased simplicity, refinement and restraint – a post opulent world – new Ghost fits perfectly with the zeitgeist of our times.
‘New Ghost is the very essence of Rolls-Royce. It whispers, it doesn’t shout. It is less, but better.’
Rolls-Royce has dubbed this approach of rejecting ‘superficial expressions of wealth’ in favour of less formal luxury as its ‘post opulent’ design philosophy – a term already used in in architecture, fashion, jewellery and boat design.
The firm with its headquarters on the Goodwood estate on the fringe of Chichester in Sussex, says its new second-generation Ghost is also ‘the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce car ever made’ in the 116 year history of the legendary British car company – now owned by German car-maker BMW – whose name is byword around the world for the pinnacle of luxury and excellence.
Priced from £249,600, it replaces the first generation Goodwood Ghost, launched in 2009 and which went on to become the biggest selling Rolls-Royce ever.
The sequel is the result of an extensive consultation with existing customers around the world to see where improvements could be made.
Every component on the new car has been changed, with the carry-over from the first Goodwood Ghost being the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ flying at its prow and pull-out umbrellas stowed in the doors.
Ray Massey, has already seen the new 2020 Ghost in the flesh – and can let you in on a few of its secrets
At 5.5 metres long, it has been extended by 9cm over the previous-generation car. It’s also 3cm wider, meaning you’ll need a parking space to accommodate a machine that’s 2 metres broad
Powered by a mighty 6.75-litre twin-turbo-charged V12 petrol engine, developing 563bhp, linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and riding on vast 21-inch wheels, it accelerates swiftly but smoothly from rest to 62mph in a more than adequate 4.8 seconds up to a top speed restricted to 155mph.
But don’t expect it to do much for the planet, with average CO2 emissions of between 347 to 358g/km under the new ‘real world’ testing regime. And you’ll get less than 20mpg fuel economy – not that the cost of petrol is an issue for the usual Rolls-Royce customer.
Designer Henry Cloke said they have ‘decluttered’ the limousine in line with current customer demands: ‘They rejected busy details and flash gimmicks, instead seeking extremely high quality, thoughtfully designed pieces that stand up to the most intense scrutiny. This philosophy defined new Ghost’s minimalist design treatment.’
He added: ‘It’s a car you can dress up, or dress down.’
Longer by 89mm and wider by 30mm than the first generation Ghost it replaces, it is built on the same new flexible bespoke Rolls-Royce platform as the current flagship Phantom and Cullinan SUV.
A low centre of gravity aids cornering and the vast engine sits behind the front axle to improve weight distribution.
Powered by a mighty 6.75-litre twin-turbo-charged V12 petrol engine developing 563bhp linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and riding on vast 21-inch wheels, it accelerates swiftly but smoothly from rest to 62mph in a more than adequate 4.8 seconds up to a top speed restricted to 155mph
Left: Designer at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Henry Cloke, who masterminded the ‘decluttered’ interior of the Ghost. Right: Our man Ray Massey, who has had a poke around the 2020 limo ahead of its arrival in boutique showrooms later this year
To keep it agile and nimble on the road, the Ghost features all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering.
And the redesigned suspension system further enhances the car’s ‘hallmark magic carpet ride’ to provide ‘unprecedented’ levels of ride comfort and control.’
This is aided by the hi-tech ‘flagbearer’ system, which uses cameras and sat-nav to scan the road ahead and prepare the suspension for anything from bumps to humpback bridges and changes in road surface and conditions.
The all-aluminium spaceframe chassis and superstructure helps keep the weight down and aids streamlining.
Rolls-Royce notes that to ensure a perfectly continuous seam four craftsmen hand weld the body together simultaneously: ‘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, recalling the seemingly one-piece coachbuilt Silver Dawn and Silver Cloud models.
‘This complete absence of shut lines allows clients to run their eye from the front to the rear of the car uninterrupted by ungainly body seams.’
To make it easier for the driver and passengers to get out, as well as in, the Ghost’s doors can now for the first time be ‘effortlessly’ opened electrically with power-assistance (as well as closed, as was previously the case) – as featured in other models across its opulent range.
Rolls-Royce notes that to ensure a perfectly continuous seam four craftsmen hand weld the body together simultaneously. The complete absence of shut lines allows clients to run their eye from the front to the rear of the car ‘uninterrupted by ungainly body seams’, says the luxury vehicle maker
Silent assassin: The Ghost has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to ensure it’s near silent when on the move. As our man Ray will explain…
Secrets of the near-silent drive explained
To keep help reduce noise and vibration and enhance the sense of driving serenity, the chassis, interior components and other elements have been tuned to specific resonant frequencies so that the Ghost drives with a ‘whisper’ that does not disturb the occupants ‘cocooned’ inside.
Constructing the car’s aluminium spaceframe from complex forms, rather than flat, resonant surfaces, is the first step in this process. More than 100kg of acoustic damping materials has been applied in the doors, roof, between the double-glazed windows, inside the tyres and within double-skinned bulkheads and floors to further reduce road noise intruding into the cabin.
New Rolls-Royce Ghost: Will it fit in my garage?
Built: Goodwood, near Chichester, Sussex
On sale: now
First deliveries: In time for Christmas
Price: £249,600 (£208,000 plus VAT)
Dimensions (compared to previous model)
Length: 5,546mm (+89mm)
Width: 1,978mm (+30mm)
Wheels: 21 inch
Engine: 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: All-wheel drive
Steering: All-wheel steering
0-to-62mph: 4.8 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Average CO2 emissions: 347 to 358g/km
Fuel economy: 17.9mpg to 18.6mpg
Boot capacity: 507 litres
The car maker noted: ‘Rolls-Royce acoustic engineers are experts in serenity. Once a highly insulated sound stage is created, components that generate almost imperceptible sound waves are tracked and modified.
‘Every component was interrogated to assess whether it created noises that engineers defined as unacceptable and were re-engineered as a result.’
Rolls-Royce said: ‘The inside of the air conditioning ducting, for example, created an unacceptable level of wind noise so it was removed and polished.’
The diameter of the prop shaft was adjusted and its rigidity increased to improve acoustics. Even the seat frames were tweaked.
Once this ‘near-silent soundstage’ had been created, sound engineers then set about harmonising the rest of the car to cut out other noises and vibrations, However, they found that a completely silent interior proves ‘disorientating’ for occupants.
So, to overcome this, they created a whisper, which they describe as: ‘a soft undertone that is experienced as a single, subtle note’.
Rolls-Royce explained: ‘To achieve this, each component had to be tuned so it shared a common resonant frequency.
The seat frames in early prototypes, for example, resonated at a different frequency to the body, so damping units were developed to bring the noise together into a single note.’
Then, to stop the large, 507-litre boot cavity producing a low frequency rumble that could be felt at motorway speeds, special ports were built underneath the rear parcel shelf to allow these ‘disruptive sound waves’ to escape unheard by human ears.
Tuning the vehicle acoustically transforms the entire motor car into a ‘subwoofer’ loudspeaker for the bespoke in-car audio system comprising a powerful amplifier controlling 18 channels (one for each speaker) with a 1300W output.
So-called ‘exciter speakers’ bonded to the surface of an object – in the Ghost’s case its rooftop ‘Starlight Headliner’ – transforming the motor car’s ceiling into a large speaker operating alongside more conventional cone-type speakers to produce an ‘exceptional listening experience’.
To keep its occupants fresh, the Ghost now comes with a micro-environment purification system to protect against harmful carbon, pollen particles and bacterial contaminants. If sensors detect impurities, they switch the fresh air-intakes to ‘recirculation’ as ultra-fine filters remove ‘nearly all’ particles and bacteria ‘in under two minutes.’
Other hi-tech touches include: LED and laser headlights that illuminate the road up to 600m ahead, day- and night-time wildlife and pedestrian warning; an ‘alertness’ assistant; , all-round visibility from a four-camera system with panoramic and ‘helicopter’ view; active cruise control; collision warning; cross-traffic warning; lane departure and lane change warning; a high-resolution head-up display; Wi-Fi hotspot; self-parking technology; and the latest sat-navigation and entertainment systems.
The ‘minimalist’ Ghost was given its own assertive yet ‘ethereal front-end character’ achieved with 20 LED lights positioned underneath the top of the large Pantheon radiator grille to subtly illuminate its vertical veins
The dashboard has a limited number of toggles and switches to keep it feeling minimalist and sleek
As you would expect from any Rolls-Royce product, the materials are the finest available. The focus on minimalist design event stretches to the leather stitching, which is said to be in ‘long perfect lines’
Minimalist design for Rolls-Royce’s understated millionaire clients
The ‘minimalist’ Ghost was given its own assertive yet ‘ethereal front-end character’ achieved with 20 LED lights positioned underneath the top of the large Pantheon radiator grille to subtly illuminate its vertical veins. Rolls-Royce confessed that early prototypes were over-effective and made light reflecting from the polished uprights look too striking.
So engineers brushed the back of the metal grille bars to make them less reflective to subdue the effect. The Spirit of Ecstasy sits without interruption on the seamless bonnet, rather than on the top of the Pantheon grille.
The streamlined bodywork is ‘one fluid canvas, uninterrupted by shut lines’ and a nod back to the coach-built Silver Dawn and Silver Cloud while the subtly arched roof line ‘gently proclaims its dynamic intent’.
Rolls-Royce noted: ‘For the first time, the Spirit of Ecstasy is not surrounded by panel lines but rather stands within her own ‘lake’ of bonnet.
The Spirit of Ecstasy sits without interruption on the seamless bonnet, rather than on the top of the Pantheon grille
Rolls-Royce says the simple interior design rejects ‘superficial embellishments’ to create a more relaxing ‘refuge’ with the very finest leathers, woods and metals – the star headlining adds to the effect
A single straight stroke on the flanks emphasises the Ghost’s length. The lower ‘waft line’ borrows from boat design and uses reflection to lighten the surfacing and create ‘a pure, uncomplicated sense of motion’. Its sharp bow lines intersect with angular lights.
Windscreens and windows help strike a balance between a driver-oriented and a chauffeur-driven car.
Rolls-Royce says the simple interior design rejects ‘superficial embellishments’ to create a more relaxing ‘refuge’ with the very finest leathers, woods and metals.
Some 20 half hides are used to create 338 interior leather panels and subjected to exhaustive quality control checks.
‘Busy’ leather stitch work was ditched in favour of ‘long and perfectly straight lines’.
Wood is shown in its ‘naked’ form in ‘open-pore’ finish. Two new finishes developed: Obsidian Ayous, inspired by colours found in lava rock; and Dark Amber which integrates veins of fine aluminium particles into the dark wood. The material is left exposed as long, single-veneer leaves, bisected only by cold-to-the-touch real metal vents, through which filtered air reaches the cabin.
Rolls-Royce says its ‘post opulence’ philosophy is the antithesis of what the fashion industry terms ‘ premium mediocrity.’
In a waspish side-swipe at some of its key luxury rivals it notes: ‘This refers to products that use superficial treatments such as large branding or, in the context of motor cars, busy stitching and other devices that create the illusion of luxury by dressing products lacking in substance in a premium skin.’
It says: ‘New Ghost is a motor car precisely tailored to its clients, that appears perfect in its simplicity, that is underpinned by remarkable substance, that is less but better.’
Rolls-Royce says its ‘post opulence’ philosophy is the antithesis of what the fashion industry terms ‘ premium mediocrity.’
Just because it’s minimalist doesn’t mean it isn’t laden with technology. Rear-seat passengers get drop-down screen and tables
Stars on the ceiling and and twinkling on the dashboard
The world-first ‘illuminated fascia’ on the passenger side of the dashboard shows the word ‘Ghost’ amid a sprinkling of more than 850 stars created from 152 LED lights mounted above and beneath.
It creates a ‘twinkling effect’ and echoes the sparking ‘starlight headliner’ in the roof. Yet the constellation and wordmark are completely invisible when the interior lights aren’t operating.
It took two years and more than 10,000 collective hours to create.
Rolls-Royce says: ‘To ensure the Ghost wordmark is lit evenly, a 2mm-thick light guide is used, featuring more than 90,000 laser-etched dots across the surface’.
To remain ‘completely invisible’ while not in use, three layers of composite materials are used: a laser-etched piano-black substrate allows light to shine through the wordmark and star cluster; an overlaid layer of dark-tinted lacquer hides the lettering when not in use; and the fascia is sealed with a layer of tinted lacquer and hand polished to achieve a uniform 0.5mm thick high-gloss finish matching other interior accents.
There are drop-down rear screens to keep rear passengers entertained.
Rolls-Royce has been offering the starlight roof liner option for many years, and can even specify it to a certain date. For instance, you can choose to have the constellation of stars over the city of choice at the time a child was born…
And for the first time ever, Rolls-Royce has added a ‘twinkling effect’ to the dashboard in the Ghost using LED lights. The constellation and wordmark are completely invisible when the interior lights aren’t operating
‘A Ghost for the next decade’, says Rolls-Royce boss
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars chief executive officer Torsten Müller-Ötvös, said: ‘To create a new product that would resonate with our Ghost clients for the next ten years meant we had to listen carefully to their demands.
‘These business leaders and entrepreneurs demand more of their Ghost than ever. They require a new type of super-luxury saloon that is dynamic, serenely comfortable and perfect in its minimalism.’
Mr Müller-Ötvös said: ‘The only components that we carried over from the first Goodwood Ghost were the Spirit of Ecstasy and umbrellas. Everything else was designed, crafted and engineered from the ground up.
‘The result is the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet. It distils the pillars of our brand into a beautiful, minimalist, yet highly complex product that is perfectly in harmony with our Ghost clients’ needs and perfectly in tune with the times.’
In line with Rolls-Royce co-founder and engineer Sir Henry Royce’s maxim ‘Take the best that exists and make it better,’ he noted: ‘Over its ten-year lifespan, which began in 2009, Ghost has become the most successful model in the marque’s 116-year history.’