What is it?
We’re talking here about the new, slightly smaller stablemate for the mighty Rolls-Royce Phantom – the Ghost
This is a car that Rolls CEO Tom Purvis confidently claims will take the Rolls marque back to the prominence of its greatest days. The company was always strongest, says Purvis, when it had two distinct model lines.
This new all-steel model, more conventionally engineered than the flagship and 44cm shorter — but faster, more powerful and more agile — will sell for just under £200,000, roughly £80,000 less than the flagship.
Initially, Rolls lovers feared that the new Ghost might be a thinly disguised BMW 7-series, without enough separate engineering or styling to back its huge brand image. Nobody at BMW bothers to disguise the fact that some components (aircon, electronic parts, some brake and suspension bits) are shared with the new 7-series, but so much about the car is unique (platform, all major dimensions, styling inside and out, all important suspension specifications) that there can be no question this is no rebadged 7-series.
What’s it like?
Hard to think of a 5.4 metre, 2.4 tonne saloon as sporty, yet that’s how the Ghost feels. Its 6.6-litre, twin-turbo V12 produces 563 bhp at 5250 rpm, and 575 lb ft of torque from an ultra-low 1500 rpm. Both outputs are around 25 percent ahead of those for the Phantom, which is also around 200 kilograms heavier.
The result is some stunning Ghost acceleration times, including a Porsche-busting 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds. Top speed is governed at 155 mph, a speed the car can attain with remarkable ease. Even so, the new twin-turbo engine is BMW’s most efficient V12 yet, with fuel economy and CO2 outputs once scored by smallish V8s.
Floor the throttle at 100 mph, and the car surges forward like an Italian supercar struck by lightning — except that there’s almost no noise. Luckily, the air suspension delivers the stability, cornering grip and steering authority such a potent car needs.
Once you’re used to the car’s size, you can chuck it about with abandon, provided you’re accurate with the steering: this car doesn’t have quite the Phantom’s proportions, but it’s big. You can be reassured, though, that the superb brakes can wash speed away apparently without effort.
The big story is the refinement and ride comfort. Over bumps you know are evil the car is supple and almost silent. It refuses to pitch under almost any circumstances, or to float over bumps.
It has one of the finest, best developed (and admittedly most expensive) suspensions ever put under a car, far more Rolls-Royce than 7-series. No-one has yet done a back-to-back “comfort test” between Ghost and Phantom, but I’d say it’s by no means a certainty that the bigger car would win.
Interior equipment is comprehensive and assembled with surgical quality, but re-thought for simplicity of operation. Example: occupants don’t choose cabin temperature by number. They merely have access to two control-wheels governing upper and lower temperature where they sit: left for cooler, right for hotter. Every switch or control, though designed for a delicious, mechanical feel, has the same simplicity of operation.