Two things you need to know about the Ghost, the so-called “baby” Rolls-Royce.
First, it has a long lineage and is named after the Silver Ghost first introduced way back in 1906.
Second, it’s no baby. Though smaller than the flagship Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Ghost is still 2.5 tons of in-your-face luxury limousine that has presence with a capital P. Yours for five million bucks, fully specced with all its optional toys.
The question is: why would you wish to part with this much of your lotto winnings when you can buy a German luxo barge like an S-Class or 7 Series for a third of the price?
The answer is: for the Spirit of Ecstasy, m’lud, for the Spirit of Ecstasy. This, for the uninitiated, is the silver statuette perching on the tip of every Rolls-Royce’s bonnet, and all that she represents.
A BMW IN DRAG
Yes, everyone knows that this most British of brands now belongs to BMW and that the Ghost is really a BMW 7 Series in drag. And yes, some of the switchgear in the cabin is clearly recognisable as coming from uncle Gunter’s parts bin, including BMW’s iDrive multi-controller which lets you switch between various functions like the audio system, climate control et al.
But still there is something very special and quintessentially Rolls-Royce about this car. It’s the artfully-finished glossy wood panelling, the chromed air vents which are opened by pulling on a solid chromed stalk rather than a flimsy plastic one, the cashmere-lined ceiling, and the almost total lack of plastic in the cabin. Leather, chrome and wood cover almost every luxurious square centimetre.
It’s also in those rear “suicide” doors that, as in the Phantom, open towards the back to make ingress and egress easier for ladies wearing ball gowns. And it’s also in the brollies stashed in the front doors, lest wet weather makes an appearance.
I was a tad disappointed that the Ghost’s carpets aren’t as deep and plush as the Phantom’s, and the legroom not quite as stretch-out (although there’s still oodles of it). But in all other respects this is a luxurious carriage of the highest order.
But it’s in the driving experience that any BMW comparisons evaporate. Comparing this Rolls-Royce to a 7 Series is is like comparing the Hilton Hotel to Buckingham Palace.
Sure, a Seven has a plush ride quality, but nothing like this.
The Ghost wafts.
Driving it is like driving a feather mattress. It dispenses with potholes and scarred roads with the serene poise of a swan gliding over a lake, sparing its cocooned passengers from all but the worst of road imperfections. It’s the way it glides over speedhumps without a rude jolt that I like best. For this you can thank the intelligent four-corner air suspension system, which is able to detect the movement of a single rear passenger from one side of the seat to the other, and compensates accordingly.
Power, as Rolls-Royce is reputedly fond of saying, is “adequate”. Beneath the cliff-like bonnet is a BMW-sourced 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 delivering 420kW and 780Nm. As angry and snarling as you might expect that to feel, the Rolls-Royce Ghost is also as as quiet as the disembodied entity it’s named after (the non-poltergeist versions).
The big 12-cylinder mill is a paradox of power and pin-drop silence, making barely any more noise than an electric motor. Which puts the violence of the Ghost’s acceleration completely out of synch with its silent, vibration-free operation. You could hear a beetle sneeze in that plush, soundproofed cabin, even when the V12’s revving to its max. I didn’t perform the glass-of-champagne-on-the-engine-cover-and-rev-it test, but I’m pretty sure not a drop of bubbly would have been spilled.
But, by George, that acceleration. It’s of the neck-stretching, hang-on-for-dear-life variety, or more precisely a claimed 0-100km/h sprint in just five seconds which is rather spiffing for a 2.5-ton beast. This is a mink-wrapped missile. The downside is that it has fuel consumption to make oil sheikhs smile.
Yes, there’s Bavarian technology underneath, but the Germans have still managed to make it feel like there’s true-blue British blood flowing through the Ghost’s veins. There’s heritage going all the way back to 1906 in the way this Rolls-Royce drives and the way it makes you feel – like royalty. True indulgence, true Spirit of Ecstasy style.
Rolls-Royce is brought into South Africa by the Daytona Group, which also imports the McLaren and Aston Martin brands. -Star Motoring
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