We got to spend several days living with the Rolls-Royce Ghost, and truth be told it made us feel like a media mogul rather than a mere automotive journalist.
Unlike the Phantom, which is also available in a “Drophead Coupe” convertible, the Rolls-Royce Ghost is only offered as a “saloon,” as four-door cars are called in the U.K. It comes wrapped in broad-shouldered styling that is both formal and aggressive. The automaker’s traditional upright chrome grille caps the front end, flanked by narrow Xenon headlamps. A tall beltline runs the length of the car with a bit of a curve to it and meets the gently sloping roofline at a well rounded rear-end treatment. At a massive 212.6 inches long, the Ghost fit in our garage with only a few inches to spare.
Our tester came in a Claret (i.e maroon) paint treatment with the extra cost ($5,750) silver satin bonnet (hood) treatment that we found a bit garish, though it proved to be an attention getter.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost rides on a sophisticated double wishbone suspension up front with a multi-link array at the rear and automatic damping height-adjustable shock absorbers at all four corners. It delivers a smooth ride yet remains surprisingly tractable through the curves. While the car’s easygoing steering creates a certain disconnected feeling from the road, hairpin turns and sudden curves didn’t seem to unnerve the suspension, with only a modest amount of stability control intervention coming to the fore during the most-extreme maneuvers. The car was rock solid and smooth sailing at highway speeds, with the ability to leap fairly athletically from one lane to another when called upon. We felt a few bumps and jolts over pockmarked pavement, due largely we suspect to the standard run-flat tires (which by nature are stiffer than conventional rubber), but by the same token the ride is never floaty or bouncy, which will certainly spare rear-seat riders from ever feeling seasick in this land yacht.
Our tester came with a full array of the latest high-tech safety systems as part of a $9,950 option package. A head-up display projects the car’s speed and other pertinent data onto the windshield in the driver’s line of sight, while a lane departure warning system subtly vibrates the steering wheel to warn the driver if the car is veering across highway lane markers and a night vision camera projects an appropriately ghostly infrared view of the road ahead to help see beyond the range of the car’s high beams.
We found Rolls-Royce Ghost’s seats to be the most comfortable we’ve ever enjoyed, bar none. Our tester came with the extra-cost individual buckets in the rear (an additional $6,350), with ventilated cushions front and rear ($3,500), and buyers can add a massaging function to all four seats ($1,200 per row) for extreme decadence. What’s more, our tester came with the so-called rear theater configuration ($6,500) in which all settings that do not directly affect the driver can be controlled from the back seat, including the front passenger-seat adjustments. While this is obviously for the benefit of Ghost owners who prefer to be chauffeured, in our case it was used primarily for the younger sibling in the rear to annoy his older brother sitting in the front passenger’s seat.
It’s our duty as an automotive journalist to identify nitpicks, and thus we can report the side mirrors on the Rolls-Royce Ghost are so large as to obstruct the driver’s outward visibility. Also, the sun visors are blade thin and incorporate what are only pocket-sized vanity mirrors. But in our opinion the worst flaw to be found in the Rolls-Royce Ghost is the use of BMW’s often vilified “iDrive” multimedia control system that consolidates various settings and systems – including audio and navigation – into a single interface to reduce button clutter.
As one might expect, convenience features are plentiful, with the front doors even including built-in pop-up umbrellas for when the weather suddenly becomes inclement. A wide range of customization is available, with buyers able to have their Rolls-Royce Ghosts fitted with everything from a huge panoramic sunroof ($7,000) wood fold-down picnic tables for the rear seats ($2,800), padded lamb’s wool floor mats ($1,100), a small refrigerator ($2,400) and myriad trim and accessory treatments. Beyond that, pretty much anything goes…at a price. Our tester stickered at $302,250 including a $2,000 destination charge and $1,700 gas-guzzler tax, and at that came only “modestly” equipped.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost may not be the ultimate ride in all respects, but as we were informed the typical owner is wealthy enough to own multiple cars – seven or eight is average – to indulge their specific vehicular whims. It’s not uncommon for a Rolls-Royce to share garage space with a Ferrari or Lamborghini, a Range Rover and perhaps even a Bentley for good measure. As F. Scott Fitzgerald (or Ernest Hemingway, depending on whom you believe) once said. “The rich are different.” To that we would add, “Yes, they drive nicer cars.”
- electronic lock
- hood ornament
- V12 engine