The Rolls-Royce Ghost has been subtly rejuvenated. Jonathan Crouch takes a look
Ten Second Review
For the ultimate in automotive technology concealed behind a veil of leather and wood with a cloud-like driving experience courtesy of a V12 twin-turbo engine, look no further than the Rolls-Royce Ghost. This second generation model adds more technology and far more sophisticated underpinnings to a luxurious recipe that no other rival can quite match. But of course, that's reflected in the price.
Rolls Royces are traditionally driven by people other than their owners. If you can afford one, you can afford to sit in the back. But what kind of car might this famous brand make if it were to design a means of conveyance aimed at people who would slip behind the wheel themselves? One as comfortable with curves as it was in the showroom? Back in 2010 with the original version of this car, the Ghost, Rolls Royce answered that question.
The brand had been at that point once before. Back in 1929 when, like today, their range was headed by an imposing Phantom model, the company identified the need for a slightly smaller, more driver-orientated design. But the 20/50 model they produced was feebly-powered and ultimately unsatisfying. Perhaps in fear of repeating this mistake, the modernday Ghost we saw in 2010 employed hi-tech handling and a 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V12. But it borrowed too many parts from parent company BMW and felt a world removed from a Phantom, even when the brand updated it to 'Series II' form. In 2020 though, a new generation Ghost arrived, this car, which claims to be everything a Rolls Royce should be.
One day soon, all Rolls Royces of this kind will be electrically driven but for the time being, this Ghost is gloriously un-electrified with a 6.75-litre twin turbo V12 borrowed from the Cullinan SUV. It develops a mighty 563bhp, with most of the torque available from just 1,600rpm. And this leviathan of a powerplant drives all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox that Rolls insists isn't borrowed from BMW, but which must surely share some Munich technology somewhere.
We said it wasn't electrified; well that's not quite true. There's a 48V active anti-roll bar which draws data from a forward facing camera and will slacken right off if it sees a bump coming. Despite that, there's a little more body roll than you'd get in, say, a Bentley Flying Spur. But Rolls Royce is fine with that; this Ghost, unlike its rival, isn't burdened with any pretensions of 'sportiness'. Yet it's still very fast; sixty two mph from rest occupies just 4.8s. There's adaptive damping too of course, but Rolls Royce doesn't trust you with modes to activate it; Ghost owners expect those sorts of decisions to be made for them. You also get air springs at each corner. And four wheel steering, which turns the rear wheels 5-degrees opposite to front lock for extra manoeuvrability under 40mph; and 5-degrees the same way as the fronts for extra stability over 40mph.
Design and Build
If you're looking at the pictures here, remembering this car's predecessor and thinking that this replacement looks much the same, then you might be surprised to learn that only two things have been carried over from the original version of this car: the badge and the umbrellas. By far the most significant change is the move to the all-aluminium bespoke platform that already features in the Cullinan and the Phantom and which, going forward, all Rolls Royces will use, known as the 'architecture of luxury'.
And since space is the ultimate luxury, potential owners will be pleased to find plenty of it here. There's 5,546mm of length and 2,148mm of width (including the mirrors), which makes this car a slightly bigger piece of Goodwood-fabricated premium real estate than its predecessor. Inside though, it feels much the same size as before (possibly because the extra size is eaten up a little by thicker doors with more insulation). There are now digital dials (which isn't very Rolls Royce) and you get a smart 'Ghost' nameplate on the dashboard backed by little glowing stars. Obviously, there's plenty of room for rear seat occupants to stretch out, particularly if you opt for the longer wheelbase 'Ghost Extended' model that many chauffeured customers will want. Out back, the boot is 507-litres in size.
Market and Model
Rolls Royce wants around £250,000 from you for a Ghost, a considerable sum when you take into account that the almost equally desirable Bentley Flying Spur is £80,000 less. But it's not a Rolls Royce - and for potential customers here, that will be everything. As before, there's a choice of two body lengths - 'Ghost' and 'Ghost Extended'.
It's well equipped for course, not only with the usual things but also with a range of unique Rolls Royce features. So what'll you notice if you've owned a Ghost before? Well, for effortless egress, the doors now electrically open as well as electrically close. There's a down-lit Pantheon grille that discreetly illuminates Rolls-Royce iconography. And an illuminated fascia debuts featuring a Ghost nameplate surrounded by more than 850 stars. Lovely.
The Ghost comes well equipped with features like on-board Wi-Fi, whilst Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT), ensures the car automatically adapts to its surroundings, augmenting the drive experience. Updates to navigation systems and the car/user interface ensure accessing the Ghost's features remains an effortless experience, whilst the optional audio choices are just amazing. And amazingly expensive if you get too carried away. As usual, many customers will tend to specify their cars via Rolls-Royce's bespoke programme, selecting their own veneers, appliques and leather finishes.
Cost of Ownership
As the most mainstream car in Rolls-Royce's range - and all things are relative here - the Ghost can't afford to be a total indulgence. It does come fairly close to that description though. There aren't too many twin-turbo V12 petrol engines that return stellar fuel economy figures and getting 18.8mpg on the combined cycle from the Ghost isn't bad going. That's on the old NEDC test though, and in real world conditions, even adopting some fairly feather-footed chauffeur driving tactics, you'll be lucky to get much more than 15mpg. The WLTP-rated CO2 emission figure varies between 347 and 359g/km.
As you might expect, the emissions are in the top tax banding. Residual values of Ghosts have stacked up better than anticipated, thanks to the understandably modest supply that Rolls-Royce can deliver per year.
Within Rolls Royce ownership circles, there are two kinds of customer for the company's saloon models. Some like to be seen - and will usually choose a Phantom. Others want a touch of extra discretion - and for them, this Ghost will be just about perfect. These people might not have considered a Ghost in its previous form: it simply wasn't as opulent as a Phantom. But this second generation design is every bit as exclusive as its Goodwood stablemate. And pretty much as luxurious too.
Unlike a Phantom, you could enjoy driving this car quite hard too - though, naturally, it's not quite as sporting as a rival Bentley. What's important this time round though, is that this rejuvenated Ghost model feels every inch a real Rolls Royce, all trace of BMW carryover thankfully removed. Is it the 'best car in the world', as Rolls Royce's reputation used to promise? Well if you own one, we think you'll think so.