2012 ROLLS-ROYCE GHOST REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Four-door, four/five seat sedan
Price: $695,000 inc on-roads
Fuel Economy (claimed): 13.6 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 21.0 l/100km
In 2009, Rolls-Royce became a two-model manufacturer with the introduction of the Ghost.
It was, and is, a smaller, lighter, more agile machine aimed squarely at those who enjoy their driving, but which retains all the hallmarks of the uber-premium brand.
Since then, the Ghost has had some subtle styling tweaks and interior enhancements, but compared to the stately Phantom, it blends into the crowd a little more. That, says Rolls-Royce, is the point.
Rolls-Royce has, therefore, set a challenge: can a car as big and luxurious as this actually appeal to those who enjoy the hunt through a nice set of corners?
TMR was invited to spend some time at the wheel - in the English countryside, no less - to judge for ourselves.
Quality: Well, it is a Rolls-Royce, which speaks for itself.
There’s leather... and then there’s the pure, soft, aniline hide used in the Ghost. The stitching is faultless, as is the reflective surface of the woodwork. Just about every surface is flawless leather, wood or deep, thick carpet.
The chrome handles on the tray tables and interior lights is solid and chunky, making a perfect companion to the burr walnut that features throughout.
The centre bulls-eye vents - both front and back - are bordered by an elegant satin chrome, while the instrumentation features classic floating needles with chrome centres. The speedo even receives the traditional 'R-R' logo; a nice touch.
The steering wheel is one of the most tactile of any car on sale, and the console lid, which doubles as an armrest, is buttery-soft.
Comfort: If there is a car with more comfortable seats, we’re yet to find it (excepting the Phantom, of course).
The support means lower back pain will never be an issue, no matter how long the drive, and the cushy bolstering will ensure that you’ll never slide around no matter how vigorous.
Unlike the Phantom, the Ghost’s seat adjustments use buttons on the side of the bases, while back-seat adjustment is on the rear armrest. Seat massagers are an option also.
Sink your feet into the deep, lambswool carpets and you’ll understand what luxury means. Keeping its occupants cosseted is what Rolls-Royce does best, and with that world-famous ride, the Ghost is one of the most comfortable cars in the world.
Equipment: Behind the elegant wedge-shaped centre-stack panel lies a crisp, high-resolution screen which you control via the rotary dial at the front of the centre console. (Please, sir, don’t refer to it as iDrive.)
Alternatively you can use voice commands activated by a button on the steering wheel.
Included features are DVD screens for the back seats, navigation which can be controlled by the rear-seat passengers, chunky tray-tables, a 10-channel amp and whopping 600W sound system using 16 speakers, USB, Bluetooth and a 12.5 GB hard-drive for music.
Head-up display, lane departure warning, high beam assistance, active cruise control with 'stop and go' – it’s all there. This is a thoroughly modern car.
Then, there’s the bespoke side of the business, in which your imagination (and budget, of course) can run wild with custom additions to your car.
Need a matching picnic set? No problem. A portable wine cooler? Of course, sir. A family crest embroided into the headrests? Anything you want.
Storage: The Ghost uses the industry standard – you can fit four sets of golf clubs in the boot (490 litres to us mere mortals). There are two cupholders up front and two for the rear passengers in the drop-down armrest.
Plenty of cubby holes hide under lids along the centre-line of the car, while the door pockets are a good size for small water bottles.
Practical? Most definitely. This is a car built for covering the countryside with a stash of luggage.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Fitting snugly under that long bonnet is a 6.6-litre, twin-turbocharged petrol V12 making a massive 420kW.
Let’s put that into perspective – that’s the same as a Ferrari 458 Italia, but it has nearly 50 percent more torque. At 780Nm, the Ghost has very serious pulling power, but the best part is a torque curve which is completely flat, all of it available from 1500rpm.
Overtaking is as simple as mashing pedal into lambswool and feeling that 'hand of God' push from behind. The surge is so smooth but consistently strong that it’s almost unsettling. It never lets up.
While you’ll never hit the dragstrip in a Ghost, it’ll do 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds; and it'll do that time fully laden, such is the torque.
And with the creamy ZF eight-speed auto shifting imperceptibly in the background, it offers a tsunami of power and torque at any speed.
We're nit-picking - and as if an owner with this sort of budget would care - but we have to take a half-point away for fuel consumption.
Refinement: Refinement? The Ghost sets expectations high; but, such is its smoothness, when you start the engine, you’d be hard pressed to know it’s running.
When at work, it's deathly silent. Even when heading through a tunnel on full song with the windows down, the ridiculously smooth twin-turbo V12 just makes a noise like rushing air. No drama, no fuss, no bark. Serenity is the order of the day.
Suspension: The PR people at Rolls-Royce get paid, I’m sure, for every mention of "waft", "magic carpet", and a thousand other similar words.
Another is surely "unflappable". The dampers adjust the ride every 2.5 milliseconds. An anti-roll stabilisation system reads corners and engages sway bars to keep the car flat, disengaging them on the straights for the magic-carpet ride Rolls is famous for. It is slightly firmer than the Phantom though.
Braking: Massive 420mm front and 402mm rear discs slow things down. Only when absolutely abused do the brakes begin to soften, but recovery is quick – heartening to know when you’re hauling-up 2360kg of luxury sedan.
ANCAP rating: Not tested.
Safety features: Dual front, front-side and curtain airbags, pre-tensioning seatbelts, IsoFix child seat points in rear, active front headrests, ABS, brake assist, brake-force distribution, advanced crash and safety management (ACSM) system, traction control, stability control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Four years/unlimited kilometres
Service costs: Servicing costs vary according to vehicle usage.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
Bentley Mulsanne ($662,857) – Perhaps the Ghost’s closest rival, the Mulsanne has four fewer cylinders and a more traditional interior, but doesn’t quite have the looks or brand cachet of the Rolls-Royce.
Note: prices are Manufacturer's List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There is a very good reason why things of a defining standard are referred to as “the Rolls-Royce of…” – the brand embodies premium grace and unassailable quality.
The Ghost lives up to the Rolls-Royce heritage but with a modern twist. It’s nimbler than its big brother and slips under the radar a little more easily. It’s a Rolls-Royce you can use to go to the shops but still travel in unrivalled luxury.
It’s hauntingly good.
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