Instinctively, it was far from ready to be replaced. But unnoticed, the first generation of the Ghost – as an entrance for younger prospects into the glamorous world of Rolls-Royce – has been rolling out of the factory near the world-famous Goodwood estate in South England for eleven years.
In the top-of-the-line limousine segment, cars like the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series are still accessible to a mere mortal with a little luck in life. But a Rolls-Royce is and will remain of a different order. An aura of elusiveness hangs around the crown jewel of not only the British, but probably the entire automotive industry. Even time cannot get a grip on it.
The Rolls-Royce designers did not have to go through all kinds of difficult turns to prepare the brand new Ghost for the next decade. Broadly speaking, everything could remain the same, even though ultimately no part of the new Ghost came off the shelf. Apparently the owners of a Rolls-Royce appreciate it very much that they immediately feel at home in their new car. If they had been looking for a completely different accommodation, they would have bought a Bentley or Range Rover (as an extra).
Nevertheless, with a Rolls-Royce Ghost you can also go in all directions with the configuration of the exterior and interior. If you’ve gotten tired of the navy blue paint, ivory white leather and polished burr walnut wood of your previous Ghost, the Rolls-Royce sales advisor will be happy to help you put together the colors and materials for your next car.
A process that will not be completed under a single cup of coffee; the Rolls-Royce customer likes to take the time to rethink all options, alternative choices and color combinations before making the final decision. A few weeks or even months usually pass between the moment of the first exploratory meeting and the sending of the signed order form.
Of course, the production of a Ghost also takes a lot of time, especially when the buyer wants to add a personal note to the composition of the car. But no wish is unmentionable, at Rolls-Royce. And each car is assembled with the utmost care and attention, traditionally for the most part by human hands. A Rolls-Royce is not a product that has been screwed together by emotionless robots. It’s only when you take a closer look at the new Ghost that you discover what elevates this car above the top-of-the-range limousines from Germany. Indulge your senses. And you will find that they are embalmed.
As said: you must have very different wishes if Rolls-Royce cannot realize them. And in the end, the composition of the Ghost is much more an extension of the owner than of the car itself. In the first press photos of the Rolls-Royce Ghost, released in September 2020, the white paint and white leather predominate. This is also the case with our test car: to our taste, a configuration that makes a somewhat distant, cold impression.
Certain elements in the design would come into their own much better if a dark paint was chosen. Such as the beautiful chrome that frames the windows. You will not find more beautiful chrome on any other car, so you do not want to let it be snowed under by the wrong color. While bright sunlight blows out the subtle creases in the body – which are much sharper than on the first Ghost – quickly indefinable. The white Ghost then quickly becomes a two-dimensional appearance. But nobody obliges you to choose white, of course.
Neither does the white-black interior of the white test car eman a cordial warmth. Although the finish and choice of materials are as you would expect from Rolls-Royce. The woodwork is made of abachi, which is also used in saunas, for example. Although the Ghost’s darkened moldings seem to come from a sauna that has caught fire. Again, Rolls-Royce only provides the possibilities, and happily carries out what the buyer instructs.
A detail that should not be left unexposed, is the purple (!) Stitching that serves as a boundary line between the black and white leather on the dashboard. Purple – how do you make it up! But it stimulates the senses as a model of good taste. Each Rolls-Royce owes its unique personality to these types of elements.
As the smallest model of Rolls-Royce, the more than five and a half meter long Ghost puts even the largest (extended) Mercedes, Audis, BMWs and Lexuses in the shade. It is 40 centimeters longer than an S-class in the Long version. In addition, it is 7 centimeters higher, 4 centimeters wider and has a 19 centimeters longer wheelbase. After all, you have to put all that luxury wrapped in long-pile wool, tanned cowhides, chrome-plated precious metals and exotic woods somewhere.
But no matter how chic and beautiful the interior is, ultimately the technology also makes an elementary contribution to the sensations for the senses. Today’s top class cars may be so good, but they fail to reach the level of the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Take the Mercedes S 500, for example, which has a three-liter six-cylinder in-line engine, equipped with electrical assistance in the form of a mild hybrid system. As ingenious as this engine is, the heart of the true petrolhead will bleed at the thought that a humble six-cylinder is apparently the new standard in a car that many describe as ‘the best car in the world’.
But no matter how you turn it, an electrified six-cylinder will never be able to eclipse a 6.75-liter V12. No engine is as quiet and vibration-free as a twelve-cylinder. Only with an arsenal of computerized tools it might be possible, with a six or eight cylinder, to get a little close to the performance that a V12 effortlessly shakes up its sleeve.
Well, in view of the climate, you can make numerous arguments that will kill the future of the V12 in one sentence. But as long as Rolls-Royce has the ability to keep building this monumental engine – let’s hope for at least another ten years – no S-Class, A8, 7-Series or LS will surpass the thrilling driving experience that the Ghost thanks to its V12. engine has to offer.
The way in which the motor converts its power and torque into speed can be better described as force of nature than as a result of mechanical movement. As if the accelerator is directly connected to the wheels, the car starts to roll so smoothly and gracefully. No clutches to set first, no play to bridge, no uncontrollable shocks that disturb the peace of mind when the Ghost starts moving from a standstill.
Even if you press the accelerator a bit more brusquely, an eruption of brutal acceleration force remains. Even though the full tractive force of 850 newton meters is already available at 1600 revolutions per minute. Instead of a rev counter, the Ghost has a meter that indicates the power reserve. Only at a very rare moment will the needle of the meter move towards 100.
It goes without saying that the Rolls-Royce Ghost has air suspension. With a license plate weight of 2,490 kilos, the bellows of the suspension system have a difficult task to serve the wheel movements in a controlled manner, and especially not to disturb the occupants in their rest. Apparently, even for Rolls-Royce chassis engineers, it is an impossible task to make the air suspension work completely free from vibrations. Because on small, short bumps in the asphalt, for example when tree roots try to break through the asphalt, you still feel a minimal shudder in the chassis. Rolls-Royce is easily forgiven, because we have never before seen an air suspension car in which the last vibrations are dampened so well.
Of course, the Rolls-Royce Ghost is lagging behind the new Mercedes S-Class in terms of innovation and safety. As polished and natural as all the assistance and assistance systems in the S-Class do their job, no other car has performed before. But does that also make the Mercedes a better car? Whole tribes now wholeheartedly shout ‘yes’, but we refuse to go along with that.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost makes more of an impression in all other areas. You can see, hear, smell and feel that it was not put together by machines. Then a robot can work so accurately and be tuned with so much precision, for your senses the excitement of a Rolls-Royce is unmatchable. Only one brand can build the best cars in the world. And that’s not Mercedes, BMW, Audi or Lexus.
If you are looking for a luxury sedan for the necessary mileage, you certainly do not sell yourself short with a Mercedes S-Class. But if you’re looking for a top-of-the-line limousine that also excites the senses, you can’t ignore the new Rolls-Royce Ghost. No technological gadgets or robots with a minimal margin can compete with that.
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