I’ve just spent a fascinating day driving the new Rolls-Royce Ghost. It was made even more fascinating because I’d spent the previous 24 hours driving a Rolls Phantom.
The new smaller, cheaper car is terrific. In fact, just as we discovered two months ago, the Ghost is a beautifully judged car. It's as well crafted and refined as you would and should expect from a Rolls-Royce.
Yet its pace and precision also endow it with a surprising amount of driver appeal - even if it’s far from a sporty saloon. And neither should it be, to be honest.
But what staggered me was just how different it feels to the Phantom. And those differences are apparent from the second you slide into the driver’s seat. You sit far lower in the Ghost, and far snugger too. Yes, you're still sitting higher than in most saloons, but it feels far more conventional than the Phantom’s imperious driving position - which still feels totally unique. As does its control layout. The Ghost’s cabin looks and feels exceptional but there are still myriad more buttons on display than in the bigger car.
Away from the kerb there are huge differences too. The lighter, more powerful Ghost has an accelerative urge that the Phantom can’t even hope to match. It also feels a good deal more nimble on tight, twisty roads, On plenty of road surfaces it rides just as well too. But the Phantom is simply about being the best riding car on the planet, and on really broken surfaces and over expansion joints it can still show the Ghost a thing or two about bump absorbtion and noise suppression.
The Phantom still has an amazing sense of theatre that the Ghost doesn’t match, too - even though the smaller car also has those hugely attractive ‘coach’ doors. You’d still rather turn up at the red carpet in the Phantom - and you would have more room on the way there. That counts for a lot in this market.
That said, it’s great news that the Ghost is not merely a cheapened Phantom. And it’s great news that the Phantom is not rendered redundant by a smaller, cheaper and faster in-house rival.
It just so happens that the Ghost is more my sort of car, but if the Phantom appeals more then I wouldn’t blame you.