The 'baby' Rolls is every bit as smooth, refined and comfortable as its larger Phantom sibling

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.

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Should I buy one?

If you’re in the income bracket, don’t hesitate.

From what we’ve seen, the Ghost is better-looking than the forthcoming Bentley Mulsanne, and this first drive confirms that it not only rivals its larger sibling, the Phantom, for driver involvement — which was expected — but also for refinement and feeling of well-being, both so important to Rolls buyers.

For some devotees there will only be one solution to the Phantom-vs-Ghost conundrum: have one of each.

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Mart_J 9 December 2009

Re: Rolls-Royce Ghost

BigEd wrote:

Mart_J wrote:
Perhaps if you include the earliest ancestor of Auto Union, but then you could extend that sort of tenuous ancestry to almost every other manufacturer.

ignorance is not a virtue. is looking up even Wikipedia beyond you? or do you just prefer to rant malicious nonsense in the hope it might impress the dolts?

Audi celebrated(past tense) their 100th anniversary earlier this year, July 16th.

from wikipedia:

i am quite surprised that you want to try to contradict Audi AG's official history which states:

AUDI AG can look back on a multi-faceted history that has seen considerable change; its tradition in the manufacturing of cars and motorcycles stretches back to before the turn of the century. The marques which were originally all based in Saxony – Audi and Horch in Zwickau, Wanderer in Chemnitz-Siegmar and DKW in Zschopau – made a significant contribution to the progress of the automotive industry in Germany. These four marques merged in 1932 to form Auto Union AG. In terms of the sheer number of vehicles built, this was the second-largest motor vehicle company of its day. Four interlinked rings were adopted as its marque emblem. After the Second World War, Auto Union AG's production plant in Saxony was expropriated and dismantled by the occupying Soviet forces.

A number of the company's senior managers departed for Bavaria, where a new company under the name of Auto Union GmbH was founded in 1949 in Ingolstadt, upholding the motor vehicle tradition under the sign of the four rings.

Auto Union GmbH and NSU merged in 1969 to form Audi NSU Auto Union AG; this the company was renamed AUDI AG in 1985 and its headquarters transferred to Ingolstadt. The four rings remains the company's emblem to this day.

Or, their official press release for the A8 which talks of their 100 year anniversary next year.

Wiki is not the fountain of all knowledge, which is why I stated "Perhaps if you include the earliest ancestor of Auto Union,", backed up by Audi: "Audi and Horch in Zwickau, Wanderer in Chemnitz-Siegmar and DKW in Zschopau...These four marques merged in 1932 to form Auto Union AG", the ancestor to modern Audi.

As for the name, it is a story full of myth and legend similar to ODEON. There are many takes on how it came about, however the most likely is after the merger in the Thirties creating: Auto Union Deutsche Industrie.

To quote yourself: ignorance is not a virtue.

DKW 9 December 2009

Re: Rolls-Royce Ghost

Iconic 1980's American advert that successfully linked their product to Rolls Royce in the American Consciousness. In spite of the dodgy hairstyles.

A follow up by the same company:

A reference in the film 'Waynes World':

And in 'Family Guy':

Unfortunate product name, but aren't the cars gorgeous.

DKW 9 December 2009

Re: Rolls-Royce Ghost

R32, I think you are right that sales of the Phantom will be hit by this in this country. I know that there are new Rollers around, but outside the home counties the Phantoms are mainly staying in peoples garages till the economic situation picks up, which means quite some time. However I'm sure that in the more shall we say youthful markets (Middle East, China, India) the louder Phantom will still be seen as the one to get. The Ghost is particularly a Roller for Europeans.

As to the concerns about Bentleys fitness to carry the superluxury banner, I agree that they are no longer cars for the gentleman racers that were known as 'Bentley Boys', they are decent cars (as are Audis), but their exclusivity and any uniqueness has been prostituted by the silver grey anodyne pimp that is the Volkswagen/Audi Group. I fear that they will slowly weave their special brand of silver grey 'magic' on Porsche too now. 'You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile ...'

BMW have done well to hand over the basic design of Rollers to a British team - the resurection of the brand was beautifully planned. They said they wanted to take Rolls back to its glory days, and they put together a factory, a design team, a workforce, and finally a car, to do just that, largely from scratch.

Poor Maybach, on the other hand, panicked that they would lose their (partially justified) position as number one on hearing this news, and decided they had to get a superluxury car out before Rolls. So they didn't start with a clean sheet, used existing components which weren't even cutting edge at the time, were arrogant enough to think they didn't have to raise their game beyond the interior, and then failed to invest further in proper new models. They could have been a contender ...