One of the few upsides of the pandemic is that when you visit a car firm’s headquarters, you’re now usually part of a small group.
At Rolls-Royce in Goodwood for the unveiling of the new Ghost, the group comprised one person – me – which made the walk-around, the assembly plant visit and the prototype ride especially enjoyable. My hosts were designer Henry Cloke and project chief Jon Simms, who added evidence to my previous recent impressions that Rolls-Royce is nowadays populated by young people, not the venerable set you might once have expected.
There’s plenty to tell about this all-encompassing Ghost project, but I was especially fascinated by the way the acoustics team has “tuned” every important Ghost component so that all of the natural resonances add up to a sound the occupants hear as an unobtrusive, unified whisper. We proved the matter on the move, too. The latest Phantom is still a shade quieter than the Ghost, they say, but there’s now very little in it. If this is ‘post-opulence’, I’ll take it.
On the way home from Rolls-Royce, I collected my new long-termer, a BMW M235i Gran Coupé xDrive, complete with a 302bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine, an eight-speed paddle-shift gearbox, a slippery diff and front drive most of the time.
In our initial review, this car wasn’t given an excessively good time for its styling (I don’t mind it), its somewhat aggressive ride quality (true, but I like strong body control) and especially its lack of six in-line cylinders and rear drive. It has a British-built transverse four that drives the rear wheels only in times of extreme slippage.
On the evidence of 100 miles, I completely agree with our bottom-line description of this hot four-door 2 Series: effective. And although I’m not a naturally quick driver, I’m enjoying having a car with 4.9sec 0-62mph potential that naturally does its best when pressing on a bit. Everyone needs a bit of this in their lives.