Rolls-Royce is conducting final European road trials of its new Ghost-based coupé, the first ‘performance’ model to carry the Flying Lady for more than half a century.
The car, spied here during hard testing and then redrawn as we believe it will look in production, will be the fastest production Rolls ever built. Rolls-Royce cars are not normally found on race tracks but the new coupe is poised to be the best drivers car in the luxury brands history.
The company is positioning the new model as a measured response to the increasingly high-powered cars lately launched by Bentley and Aston Martin, although it denies any plan to compete in a power race with other top manufacturers.
The new coupé is to be powered by a tuned version of the Rolls-Royce Ghost saloon’s turbocharged 6.6-litre V12. Power rises from the Ghost’s standard 531bhp to an estimated 600bhp, with a proportional increase in torque. A ZF eight-speed automatic transmission will continue to carry drive to the rear wheels.
The coupé’s extra power and performance are accompanied by mildly sports-orientated upgrades to the brakes, tyres and suspension, although Rolls-Royce’s engineers have been careful to maintain the air of refinement and luxury that they believe is a marque ‘given’.
Like all other Rolls-Royce models, the top speed is governed at 155mph, but the coupé’s 0-100mph acceleration is expected to be considerably brisker than that of the already quick Ghost saloon. Engineers say drivers will also notice greater agility thanks to tauter suspension, bigger tyres, reduced weight and size and a chassis lowered by 10mm.
As our pictures show, the two-door Ghost coupé is shorter than a standard Ghost in both wheelbase and overall length. Like its Phantom-based two-door relatives, its roofline is 60-70mm lower than the saloon’s, but the car is still higher than most and offers commanding seating.
If the proportional differences between the Phantom saloon and Phantom coupé is maintained, the Ghost coupé will be around 200mm shorter overall (at about 5200mm) with around 180mm lopped off the saloon’s 3295mm wheelbase. Kerb weight should be around 2300kg, roughly 200kg less than the standard saloon.
Rolls-Royce bosses are tight-lipped about the new model’s name, and insist that a final decision has yet to be made. However, Autocar understands the model will have a name of its own, rather than being a combination of letters and numbers, or simply being known as Ghost coupé. The potential names Corniche (believed by customers to signal an open car) and Camargue (compromised by an unsuccessful Pininfarina-bodied Rolls coupé of the mid-1970s) will not be used. It is also not clear whether the BMW-era management will follow its own recent traditions and employ a name from Rolls-Royce’s history. There are plenty from which to choose — Dawn, Wraith, Cloud, Shadow and Spirit among them.
The Ghost coupé — set to be one of the stars of the Geneva motor show next March — will go into production at Goodwood in summer next year. First customers should receive their cars in late autumn 2013. If it follows recent tradition, the coupé’s starting price will exceed the £205,000 of the standard-wheelbase Ghost saloon, while holding short of the extended-wheelbase version’s £230,000 entry-level price.