Test Drive: The New Rolls Royce Ghost
Ian Lamming is spirited away in the new Rolls-Royce Ghost
WHAT is everyone looking at? Young, old, men, women and children, not just casual glances but pointing, standing, putting down their beers on outside tables to gawp. What?
Oh, that would be me then wouldn’t it? Well, when I say me, I mean my car of the week which is the new Rolls-Royce Ghost.
In Tempest Grey and with the bright sunshine glistening off the tell-tale pantheon grille, and, for the first time, the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy rising majestically through the bonnet rather than the radiator, I can’t really blame people for ogling. I’d have done the same.
Nothing attracts attention and sheer admiration like a Rolls-Royce. I’ve said it before but as a brand Rolls-Royce transcends the automotive world. It is not just a car, it embodies quality, class, craftsmanship and engineering. The Queen has several for goodness sake and they are so expensive they go beyond us mere mortals into the realms of the truly rich. But that’s ok because it allows us all to dream.
Strangely, behind the wheel, they drive just like many cars, albeit ones at the top of their game and, feeling so at ease, you do soon forget you are in something extraordinary – hence the wonderment about all the staring.
The latest Ghost is vast, over 7ft wide and more than 18ft long yet it is manageable to drive even on relatively narrow roads – helped no doubt by the fact most other road users pay due deference to the badge and pull out of your way.
It is also easy, relaxing and delightful to drive, thanks to a surprisingly agile but languid attitude to life. The world passes by unhurriedly on a floating magic carpet ride, the twin-turbo 6.75 litre V12 barely audible as it glides 2.5 tonnes of splendour along the Queen’s highway.
This is all by design not accident as Ghost features a unique Planar suspension system, whichdamps the damping even further to absorb the rigours of the country’s worst bumps and potholes, the wheels rising high into the suspension while the body stays parallel to the ground. Handling and agility are aided by all-wheel steering and all-wheel drive, while at night laser lights cut through the darkness twice as well as LEDs and ten time better than halogen headlamps.
With that illuminated grille, radiator sculpture and profile it could be nothing else and the world knows it and stares slack jawed while driver and passengers enjoy the attention.
Occupants also get the best seats in the house, whether in the front or back; embossed opulent white leather, purple piping, open pore Obsidian Ayous veneers, chrome aplenty, a beautiful hand-crafted analogue clock and a marriage of traditional knobs and plungers with the latest technology, including studio quality sound system. It’s even got a star constellation headcloth complete with shooting stars for heaven’s sake and a starry dashboard fascia.
While retro remains de rigueur Ghost features state of the art technology which can be seen in its virtual dash. One glance at the hi-tech parking system, which allows you to turn the ‘virtual’ car on the screen 360 degrees to check clearances from obstacles all round, leaves you in no doubt that Ghost is a technological tour de force.
Luxuries extend to deep lambswool foot-mats which I defy anyone not to scrunch their toes into, effortless doors which use motors to open and close, electrically operated, heated, cooled massaging seats in the front and rear, polished powered picnic tables and a cool fridge for your champers that comes complete with finest quality crystal flutes. It’s all just plain divine, simple in its design and purpose but executed exquisitely. It’s meticulous, obsessive, perfection.
The way the Ghost looks, feels and goes does something to the soul. After a hard week of driving and work I should be shattered as the weekend approaches but the long commute home is dispensed with ease. I swear I actually feel better at journey’s end than I did at the start and that has to be down to the sheer joy of piloting such an adorable car.
It takes feel-good factor to an exalted level of unmitigated joy that is approaching spiritual. No wonder Rolls-Royces have spectral names and no wonder people stare in awe.
Engine: 6.75 litre V12
Top speed: 155mph
Combined MPG: 15.2
CO2 g/km: 343