What is it?
Post-opulent. An unusual way to describe a car that costs £208,000 before you add local taxes and on which you’ll have to pay extra for lambswool floor mats, you might think.
But here we are, with Rolls-Royce Ghost take two, the all-new, second generation of a car that made its debut in 2009 and went on to become the most successful Rolls of all time. A record I suspect it will lose to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV before long.
Last time around, there were large elements of large BMW beneath the Ghost. BMW owns Rolls-Royce of course, following a highly amusing caper in which Volkswagen thought it had bought the entirety of Rolls-Royce Bentley in the late 1990s, before somebody pointed out that the Rolls-Royce brand didn’t actually belong to the seller.
The particularly good thing about that wheeze is that, two decades on, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys do two very distinct things and Rolls has now grown sufficiently confidently into a brand that can pin each of its models on its own, bespoke platform, without the parent company foundations. The architecture of luxury, they call it.
It’s an all-aluminium structure with some extrusions down its length that makes it relatively simple to produce cars of different lengths, wheelbases, heights and so on – and move some hardware around, to make room, for example, to allow the Ghosts’s tapered rear end. The Cullinan, the Rolls-Royce Phantom and the Ghost all sit on the platform, and replacements for the coupé and convertible will too.
In the Ghost you find effectively a Cullinan powertrain. That means a 6.75-litre V12 with two turbochargers under the bonnet, making 563bhp and, just as importantly, 627lb ft, developed at, more importantly again, 1600rpm – just 600rpm above idle.
With it driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, full oomph basically from when you set off. Rolls-Royce says the unit has a Rolls, not BMW, part number, but, well, put it this way: they don’t cast ‘em in Goodwood. I don’t suppose it really matters.
There’s double-wishbone suspension at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, with adaptive dampers – not that you can change driving modes yourself. Rolls sets it up how it likes because, honestly, owners don’t want to. This is a concierge of a car, existing basically to make your life more pleasant and easier.
There’s a 12V active anti-roll bar at the back, which takes inputs from forward-facing cameras; if it sees a shadow or a highlight, it thinks a bump is coming and can slacken right off. The front suspension instead has a mass damper in its efforts to keep the body flat. There are air springs on each corner and rear-wheel steering. Quite a lot of tech, then, but you’re not really meant to know it’s there.
This is quite a big car; at 5546mm long and 2148mm wide (including the mirrors), it’s a touch bigger than the old one. Not so differently sized inside, though, because there’s more insulation in the doors. But unsurprisingly, it's wide enough and long enough for tall occupants to sit behind tall occupants.
Tall drivers might find the B-pillar restricts visibility, mind, and optional blinds restrict rear passengers' views out too even when they’re retracted; if you want to be hidden, that’s the rub.