BF First Drive: Rolls Royce Ghost

Any car that prominently features the “Spirit of Ecstasy ” atop of a large chrome grill has met the requirements to be called a Rolls Royce. The Ghost is a vehicle worthy of donning such an iconic emblem, although it goes about things a tad different than it’s larger sibling, the Phantom, and that is what makes it all the more special.

On a normal day here at BimmerFile we tend to bemoan large heavy vehicles that are not worthy of a track, weight is the enemy so is over the top luxury and the pomp and circumstance that follows. Consider today a departure from our regualry scheduled programming, the cognac is flowing as well as the billows from a fine cigar. Sometimes revelling in a slower pace and the finer luxuries is ok; even for us. The one caveat of all this is- the Ghost has been designed for the driver rather than the passenger in the back.

Build

The Ghost is built around a steel monocoque body (loosly based on the BMW 7 Series), which means there is no separation of chassis and body like previous Rolls Royce offerings. This reduces the exterior size while preserving interior space. Ghost is over 400mm shorter overall than the monsterous Phantom but interior space is comparable.

A double front bulkhead has been added to help insulate the interior from engine noise, this car screams luxury and opulence so it is meant to be quiet. The front hood and windshield surround are aluminium, for weight savings and to lock in the overall look the design team was looking for. All of the high end materials and fine craftsmanship add up in price and in weight, the Ghost tips the scales in at 5500 lbs.

Interior

Ghost is more driver-focused than any Rolls-Royce car before it. The driver sits in a slightly elevated position behind the wheel “the authority position. ” The driver is provided a clear view of the road rather than just the top of the dash from this higher than normal sedan seat height. The dashboard is mostly wood and the few switches are laid out in an ergonomic manner- thought was put inot function rather than just the typical form associated with large ultra luxury executive haulers. The surprisingly sporty steering wheel features a series of buttons as well as a roller-ball control to make selction less involved.

The high definition center display is hidden behind a wood panel until it is needed. All features such as navigation, telephone, and entertainment are displayed on the screen and are managed via a rotary controller and quick-access buttons (Rolls Royce version of iDrive).

Every detail and every choice of material has been painstakingly selected to be the best it can be. In typical Rolls Royce fashion the interior is of the highest quality and nothing has been left to chance- each piece of wood selected for its grain, each stitch completed by a well trained hand with decades of experience. Like a fine watch each piece of the interior fits together with perfect precision- it is magical if not overly precise.

Drive

The biggest surprise of getting behind the wheel of a Ghost (drooling over the fit and finish aside) is how smooth everything is. The monsterous V12 gets the vehicle quickly up to speed but it is smoothly, a whoosh of power and you are there. No sudden jerks or hard shifts just a smooth steady launch. Ghost features a complex suspension system. Double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension working hand in hand with a four-cornered air-suspension system and electronic variable dampers providing a ride that is as smooth as silk.

The air suspension system in Ghost is so sensitive that it can detect even the smallest of changes. Such as, sensing the movement of a rear passenger from one side of the seat to the other and then will compensate accordingly. A complex computer system reads multiple inputs from sensors around the car; the dampers make adjustments every 2.5 milliseconds. The air suspension system also incorporates a lift and kneel function, raising or lowering Ghost by 25mm, leaning into corners as needed.

All of this provides a ride that is suprisingly sporty for such a large vehicle. Somehow the engineers figured out a way to make the Ghost easy to maneuver in parking lots and in turning radius- it actually makes turns that seem impossible and all without all wheel-steering (variable steering geometry?) If you are wondering about steering feel- there is none, isolation from noise and the road are hallmarks of vehicles in this class and the Ghost is no different.

Engine

Ghost is powered by a, 6.6 litre twin-turbo V12 engine, unique to the model and loosly based on the BMW 760i v12. It features the typical onslaught of BMW technologies from direct injection to twin power turbos. It produces 563 horsepower with 780 Newton meters of torque– enough to propel Ghost from 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. That is as quick as an ///M3 on paper, it also happens to be hand built in Munich next to those ///M engines. There is little in terms of lag but the pedal is less than predictable with the progressive nature being a little too much for a driver not used to such a thing.

Power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed, automatic ZF 8HP gearbox. One of the best, if not the best automatics on the planet. One thing that is peculiar is the “power reserve ” gauge in the cluster. It replaces the common rev counter and is something that makes little sense and is counter intuitive, it lets you know you have power left rather than telling you where you are in the engine revs.

Conclusion

In the end the Ghost is a car for a specific audience, one with copious amounts of expendable income and that requires the finest in craftsmanship and materials. It sets a new benchmark in terms of driver orientation in its class and it is obvious that the designers thought about driving character and ergonomics more than they have before. From the front or rear seats luxury is everywhere. What is missing is the connection to the outside world, noises and feel are left out of the equation completely replaced by visuals that are unparalleled. It ‘s not our cup of tea by any means but for its intended audience it is superb.

Images and Use of the Ghost compliments of Rolls Royce NA.

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