I only spent a few minutes in the Rolls-Royce Ghost, but immediately I realised just how special it is.
My only previous encounter with the Ghost was when it came in our studio for a photo shoot. There I was impressed with its luxury credentials, but felt it looked a bit awkward, too much of a Phantom imitation without being its own unique car.
But as soon as Steve Cropley pulled into the car park next to me at the Longcross test track, the Ghost had won me over. Bizzarely, I was most impressed by the fact it (almost) fitted in the space. It looked authoritative without being pretentious, still every bit a mini Phantom, but much more distinctive in its own right away from the solitary nature of the studio.
Cropley was always beaming and full of praise when he stepped out of it so I was keen to have my own go. Having just spent an hour or so driving the sublime Jaguar XFR, with such a good car so fresh in my mind, the Ghost had some living up to do.
But instantly, the Ghost matched the XFR in just how impressive a car can be. Pull the lever on the steering column towards you and up to back out, then down to pull away. You’d think you’d need to read the manual to work out just how to move the Ghost, but it’s testament to how well laid and simple to use the interior is that this is not the case.
Pulling out of the car park, its vast size gets some used to manoeuvring in tight spaces but there are no such problems once on the track.
Three things will really stick with me about the Ghost. Firstly, just how quiet the thing is. It matched the Tesla for me in just how surreal a car can sound, or rather not sound – all that power, but none of the expected twin-turbo V12 growl to go with it.
Second, the way it delivers its power. If it weren’t for the head-up display telling you the speed, you wouldn’t be able to tell whether you were going 15mph or 150mph. The power delivery is so smooth and so linear. It’s simply a unique experience accelerating quickly in the Ghost.
But most memorable of all is its ride quality. The ride is incredibly supple, with the Ghost’s air suspension helping to absorb almost any bump big or small without the driver feeling a thing in the cabin. Everything just seems so refined and sorted in the Ghost, and it’ll be fascinating to see how it performs in a full Autocar road test or head-to-head against the Bentley Mulsanne, or even its Phantom sibling.