The Rolls-Royce Ghost is the mid-tier vehicle for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Not as large as the Phantom, nor as compact as the Wraith, the Ghost narrows in on the sweet spot between touring and coupé. A key factor in maintaining its balancing size act is its frame. While its twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder engine is only a hair’s breadth smaller than the Phantom’s, the Ghost’s traditional steel frame occupies much less space. As a result, the Ghost is light on its wheels and is a lot easier to maneuver around town than you would think.
We recently took the Ghost out in Raleigh, putting it in the hands of a driver who had never before piloted a single Rolls-Royce. Many of North Raleigh’s boulevards feature narrow lanes and motorists who are a bit too motivated in their travels. Despite some initial timidity, our driver soon found himself surprisingly confident navigating the historic lanes of the capital city. Granted, this was made easier by other drivers stopping to gawk. The hydraulic steering, however, was communicative and amply backed by the V12 engine.
Focusing on the road was made easier by the Head-Up Display, a unique feature which projects information—such as your speed and navigation—in an understated fashion onto the windshield. Data visualization is increasingly being shared in technology, notably on mobile devices, so it makes sense that Rolls-Royce would take advantage of this avant-garde ability.
Because only the driver can see the HUD, passengers can connect with the car’s electronic and media systems via the dashboard display, and individual screens for rear passengers. All passengers are able to enjoy natural, full-grain or perforated leather, luxurious carpeting and 18-speaker Bespoke audio which aims to produce an aural experience with the utmost fidelity. Bespoke audio cherry-picks components from premium makers such as Bang & Olufsen, Burmester, Meridian and Bowers & Wilkins to assemble a custom setup.
Some of the tell-tale Rolls-Royce idiosyncrasies attract attention such as the climate control levels of high, medium and “soft” instead of low. Directional climate vents are fine-tuned by the conspicuous silver rods that would looks quite at home in a Rolls-Royce from the early 20th century. The rear doors swing outward from the C-Pillar in a traditionally obstinate way that is nonetheless helpful for entering, and the ever present Spirit of Ecstasy adorns the hood, as always. Available horsepower is displayed by a “Power Reserve” dial showing how much remains to be drawn, far from the more literal tachometer of most vehicles that relies on numbers and revolutions per minute.
For the launch of the Ghost Series II, the ability of passengers to lead businesses while traveling was an essential attribute. With new wireless hotspot technology, passengers will have reliable Internet connection for mobile devices whether smartphone, tablet or laptop computer. The Ghost also features dedicated iPhone integration to seamlessly connect with the Ghost’s navigation, telephone and audio systems. Connecting with your favorite radio station or RSS feed, no matter how esoteric, is now only a few clicks away.
What makes the Ghost so enjoyable, however, is watching all of these features come together with unassuming ease. Maneuverable in city conditions and quite at home on long trips, the Ghost proves itself capable throughout the country, or anywhere in the world. Say you want to swing up through Virginia on the way to Washington, D.C. Or perhaps you are headed through Tennessee to Nashville. The solidity of classic Rolls-Royce construction made by hand in Goodwood offers a level of security and satisfaction that no other vehicle can deliver.
One aspect of the Ghost that frequently draws attention is something that you could never bring up about a person: its weight. At more than 5,000 pounds, the Ghost is redoubtable with braking calibers that themselves weigh dozens of pounds. As we motored through Raleigh, we wondered how long it would take to slow down. We had the answer to our question soon enough when an overzealous mailman nudged into our lane being a little too eager to get along his route. Incongruity of the situation aside, our Ghost drew down on its four wheels and brought our movement to a rapid foreclosure. Crisis avoided, another had to be avoided by speeding up, lest we cause a pileup above the Beltline.
People are typically at a loss to describe the sound of a Rolls-Royce when one calls forth power insistently. These are not sport or performance vehicles, despite possessing some of the largest, most emphatic engines in production. They neither bark nor roar, reverberate nor crackle. With connections to the BMW family group, there is a tonality that does reach forward into the realm of German engineering, but as a fundamentally English vehicle, it is a step removed. In this particular instance, our Ghost flew past the offending post with the snapping of a flag or canvas sail in the wind. One quick downshift of the eight-speed transmission, and we were past the aberration. With a vehicle of the Ghost’s caliber, all decisions are made with such finality.