First DriveCarefully wrought changes make the Ghost an even better car than before
First DriveExtra driver involvement, superb rear-seat isolation and Phantom-beating rear space in a more contemporary and less-conspicuous package.
What is it?
The Ghost has been a runaway success for Rolls Royce. Despite coming in at a fraction under £200,000, the company sold over 2200 Ghosts in 2010 (out a total Roll Royce production of 2711). And that figure is expected to significantly increase in 2011, even without the addition of this Extended Wheelbase version.
This EWB model is 170mm longer than the standard saloon (though still half a metre shorter than the EWB Phantom) which has allowed rear kneeroom to be increased from 160mm to 330mm.
What’s it like?
This extra length has been let into the Ghost’s steel floorpan and the rear doors, which are now only 35mm longer than the front doors, ensuring the EWB’s styling looks nicely balanced in profile. Taking the now-standard panoramic steel roof into account, this Ghost has gained only around 30kg in weight.
The drivetrain remains unchanged, using the same 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 engine and eight-speed autobox. The double-wishbone front suspension and multilink rear ride on air-suspension and electronic variable damping which, Rolls claims, is so sensitive it can detect a solo rear passenger moving from one rear seat to another and make suitable adjustments.
Our brief test drive on the West Sussex lanes around the Rolls factory was useful in that I got to experience the car both as a driver and passenger, front and rear. As far as the back benches are concerned, the Ghost EWB is a superb way in which to be chauffeured. Unlike many stretched ‘luxury’ cars, its clear that most of the effort has gone into isolating the rear passengers from the road and the exertions of the engine, even when the driver is applying full power.
From the driver’s seat, the experience is notably different. This Ghost does not completely isolate the driver from the outside world in the way that the Phantom manages, allowing some poor surfaces and the engine’s full-pelt growl to intrude. It’s a very fine - though obviously large - car to drive and seriously and deceptively rapid. But just not as other-worldly and aloof as the Phantom.
The only other downside was the way the switchgear has been laid out in the cabin. Rather than the Phantom’s impressive minimalism, the Rolls design team seem to have thrown everything they had into the cockpit. For my money, there were too many switches and too many different materials and finishes. The switchgear’s 1930’s font is particularly neat, though.
Should I buy one?
Are you driving or being driven? If you are driving the car yourself (and you are not the typical Chinese buyer that equates prestige with wheelbase) and you don’t regularly carry rear passengers over long distances, stick with the standard car. If you are being chauffeured, the Ghost offers the rear cabin space of a Phantom, without the domineering on-road presence that can attract too much attention.
From a driver’s point of view, the Ghost doesn’t isolate the pilot in the other-worldly way that the Phantom does. This car feels just that bit more down-to-earth. But not too much
Rolls Royce Ghost Extended Wheelbase
Price: n/a; Top Speed: 155mph; 0-62mph: 4.9sec; Economy: 20.8mpg (est); Co2: 317g/km (est); Kerbweight: 2420kg; Engine: V12, 6592cc, twin-turbo petrol; Installation: Longitudinally; Power: 563bhp at 5250rpm; Torque: 575lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox: 8-speed auto