Front or back? Which would you choose? It’s a big decision if you’re in the market to buy any new Rolls-Royce, but particularly if you have a hankering for the ethereal new second-generation Ghost.
Would you prefer to lounge in the rear chairs in relaxed chauffeur-driven opulence while the world glides by with a whisper – whilst pretending to do some really important business en route? Or would you be itching to really engage by driving it for yourself?
No matter which seat you choose, the iconic car brand promises you’ll have a near-silent ride. So much so, in fact, that it was deemed TOO quiet and disorientated passengers before it went on sale.
Ray Massey put both seating positions to the test as he became one of the first people in the world to experience the incredibly hushed Ghost today.
From front to back: We’ve been behind the wheel – and parked in the rear seats – of the new Rolls-Royce Ghost ahead of deliveries to well-heeled customers who can afford the £250,000 limousine
Our dual adventure took us to Rolls-Royce’s headquarters at Goodwood on the fringe of Chichester and then onto a range of different roads – from small B-routes to motorways – from Sussex and beyond.
The test was compliant with the latest Covid-19 rules.
Rolls-Royce, whose very name is byword around the world for the pinnacle of luxury and excellence, reckons the new second-generation Ghost is the most technologically advanced car it has ever made in its 116-year history.
Now owned by German car-giant BMW, it combines British craftsmanship with Teutonic engineering excellence.
The new Ghost is, as you might have expected, aimed at well-heeled customers. However, unlike the bigger Phantom, it is pitched as a model that owners can drive themselves for pleasure as well as being chauffeur-driven when they want to unwind.
Visually less ostentatious than previous Rolls-Royces, the new Ghost is a more ‘minimalist’ luxury car with more understated styling and less boastful bling.
It’s for the super-rich who want to shout less about their wealth – without entirely giving up too much of the good life.
Priced from £249,600, it replaces the first generation ‘Goodwood’ Ghost, which was launched in 2009 and became the biggest-selling Rolls Royce model ever.
The new example has been fine tuned on the response of an extensive consultation with existing customers around the world to see where improvements could be made.
Every component on the new car has been changed, with the carry-over from the first ‘Goodwood Ghost’ being the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ flying at its prow and pull-out umbrellas stowed in the doors.
Powered by a mighty 6.75-litre twin-turbo-charged V12 petrol engine developing 563bhp linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and riding on vast 21-inch wheels, it accelerates swiftly but smoothly from rest to 62mph in a more than adequate 4.8 seconds up to a top speed restricted to 155mph
Ghost from the future: The first-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost, launched in 2009, went on to become the brand’s best-selling model. Now there’s a new one, and it promises a better – and quieter – ride, more technology and understated luxury
Rolls-Royce’s second Ghost – a car that was deemed TOO quiet
Rolls-Royce is making a big point about how hushed the ride in the new Ghost is.
To ensure occupants like me travel in serene comfort, every component of the new Ghost has been acoustically tuned to specific resonant frequencies so that it runs on the road with a mere whisper.
More than 100kg of acoustic damping materials has been applied in the doors, roof, between the double-glazed windows, inside the tyres and within double-skinned bulkheads and floors to further reduce road noise intruding into the cabin.
Some of the lengths the iconic British brand has gone to in order to elevate any sounds from entering the interior is staggering.
For instance, to stop the large, 507-litre boot cavity producing a low frequency rumble felt at motorway speeds, special ports were built underneath the rear parcel shelf to allow these ‘disruptive sound waves’ to escape unheard by human ears.
The inside of the air conditioning ducting created an unacceptable level of wind noise so it was removed and polished to address the problem. The diameter of the prop shaft was adjusted to improve acoustics.
Even the seat frames were tweaked. Sound engineers then set about ‘harmonising’ the rest of the car to cut out other noises and vibrations.
But here’s the rub. The Rolls-Royce engineers proceed so good at their job that they made the Ghost ‘too quiet’.
Early occupants of a prototype felt disoriented. It’s a bit like being put in a sensory deprivation tank; you get a fit of the heebie-jeebies.
As a result, the team had to build back in an element of acceptable sound – no more than a mild hum – to ensure that people feel fully comfortable.
New Rolls-Royce Ghost: Will it fit in my garage?
Built: Goodwood, near Chichester, Sussex
On sale: now
First deliveries: In time for Christmas
Price: £249,600 (£208,000 plus VAT)
Dimensions (compared to previous model)
Length: 5,546mm (+89mm)
Width: 1,978mm (+30mm)
Wheels: 21 inch
Engine: 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: All-wheel drive
Steering: All-wheel steering
0-to-62mph: 4.8 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Average CO2 emissions: 347 to 358g/km
Fuel economy: 17.9mpg to 18.6mpg
Boot capacity: 507 litres
Our man Ray Massey has had a first-hand experience of the 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 motor in the front of the Ghost. It might be a silky-smooth powerplant but it also accelerates fast enough to put a few sports cars to shame
Riding on vast 21-inch wheels it accelerates from rest to 62mph in a sport-car-whipping 4.8 seconds, up to a top speed, where legal, restricted to 155mph
What’s it like from the driver’s seat?
Up front, a mighty 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine develops a massive 563bhp and is linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Riding on vast 21-inch wheels it accelerates from rest to 62mph in a sport-car-whipping 4.8 seconds, up to a top speed, where legal, restricted to 155mph.
Don’t expect it to save the planet, though. Official figures show it has average CO2 emissions of between 347 to 358g/km – under the new real-world testing regime – and you’ll get less than 20mpg fuel economy (17.9mpg to 18.6mpg). Not that expensive running costs will be a concern to deep-pocketed buyers.
Dimensions-wise, the new Ghost is longer by 89mm and wider by 30mm than the first generation model it replaces. It’s also built on the same new flexible bespoke Rolls-Royce platform as the current flagship Phantom and Cullinan sports utility vehicle. Its low centre of gravity aids cornering and the vast engine sits behind the front axle to improve weight distribution.
At 5.5 metres long, it has been extended by 9cm over the previous-generation car. It’s also 3cm wider, meaning you’ll need a parking space to accommodate a machine that’s 2 metres broad
Rolls-Royce notes that to ensure a perfectly continuous seam four craftsmen hand weld the body together simultaneously. The complete absence of shut lines allows clients to run their eye from the front to the rear of the car ‘uninterrupted by ungainly body seams’, says the luxury vehicle maker
Arguably the biggest surprise from the driver’s seat is just how easy Ghost is to live with.
Driving it is not at all intimidating, despite its gargantuan dimension.
Sitting behind the steering wheel feels no more imposing than being behind that of a smart upmarket saloon. The key difference is the exquisite attention to detail of the interior.
Driving it is a dream. My route was extensively through Sussex and Hampshire, including on log-jammed slow moving roads through Busy Chichester. Did I feel stressed or irritated in stop-start traffic? Not a jot.
Once I had the chance to hit a congestion-free road I soon got a feel for the Ghost’s undeniable pace, though it somehow magically delivers all that potency with effortlessly smoothly.
A redesigned suspension system improves what Rolls-Royce delights in calling its ‘magic carpet ride’ – what in a past era they termed ‘waftability’
It won’t save the planet: Official figures show it has average CO2 emissions of between 347 to 358g/km – under the new real-world testing regime – and you’ll get less than 20mpg fuel economy
The most fun is to be had on twisting country lanes, accelerating and braking with gusto – not a remark often made about Rolls-Royce limousines, it must be pointed out.
Much of this is thanks to the Ghost features all-wheel drive, and all-wheel steering – which helps it with much tighter turning circle.
While it might have the dimensions of a barge, there is no nose-diving or the body swaying in fast beds – it remains perfectly balanced, even when you get a little exuberant with the controls.
A redesigned suspension system improves what Rolls-Royce delights in calling its ‘magic carpet ride’ – what in a past era they termed ‘waftability’.
Arguably the biggest surprise from the driver’s seat is just how easy Ghost is to live with. Driving it is not at all intimidating, despite its gargantuan dimension
Rolls-Royce might have wanted to design a car that doesn’t come across as brash, but that doesn’t mean it fails to have a presence
There’s clever tech too. The car’s ‘flagbearer’ system uses cameras and sat-nav to read the road ahead and prepare the suspension for tight curves, bumps or changes in road surface and conditions.
What’s not to be missed from behind the wheel is that this is a motor that garners respect wherever it goes. If you do get to experience one from the driver’s seat, expect to receive the regular nod of approval, flash of headlights from admires, waves and general looks of admiration.
Rolls-Royce might have wanted to design a car that doesn’t come across as brash, but that doesn’t mean it fails to have a presence.
This Ghost has itself impeccable manners and poise on the road. It’s no slouch and packs a mean punch when required. Yet it wafts along in eerily silence.
Time to step into the rear chairs and kick back…
To make it easier for the driver and passengers to get out, as well as in, the Ghost’s doors can now, for the first time ever, be effortlessly opened and closed electrically with power-assistance. A small tug on the door handle and the coach doors swoop to the side. And a gentle dab of the door mimics the smooth operation in reverse.
While the Ghost is packed with these intuitive systems and plenty of clever driving technology, you wouldn’t necessarily think that from inside the cabin, given the simplicity of the interior.
Rolls-Royce has ‘decluttered’ the limousine and chucked out busy details and flashy gimmicks in favour of extremely high quality but more minimalist design.
The brand’a watchword for Ghost is ‘less but better’ for a ‘business class’ cruiser. It has sought to expunge superficial expressions of wealth – let’s call it ‘bling’ – in favour of less formal luxury. And it has called this its ‘post opulent’ design philosophy – a term already used in in architecture, fashion, jewellery and boat design.
The dashboard has a limited number of toggles and switches to keep it feeling minimalist and sleek as part of Rolls-Royce’s efforts to ‘declutter’ the cabin
Rolls-Royce says the simple interior design rejects ‘superficial embellishments’ to create a more relaxing ‘refuge’ with the very finest leathers, woods and metals – the star headlining adds to the effect
Minimalism has its limits, however, and the relaxing interior refuge doesn’t skimp on the very finest leathers, woods and metals – with some 20 half hides used to create 338 interior leather panels.
But fussy leather stitch work is ditched in favour of less busy straight lines. And wood is shown in its ‘naked’ form in ‘open-pore’ finish.
When not working, there are drop-down rear screens to keep rear passengers entertained.
The Ghost’s doors can now, for the first time ever, be effortlessly opened and closed electrically with power-assistance. A small tug on the door handle and it gentle moves out, and a subtle nudge and it elegantly shuts itself
Just because it’s minimalist doesn’t mean it isn’t laden with technology. Rear-seat passengers get drop-down screen and tables
With the curtails drawn, the tray table folded, the luxury private-jet-style chair reclined and the screen turned on, Ray had the chance to enjoy a more relaxed first drive of the new £250,000 Ghost
During my first experience of being driven rather than driving, my privacy was protected by slide across curtains.
Not quite comfortable? Not a problem. One push of a button moves the front passenger seat forward to provide extra leg room. Seat in a reclined position, I’ve never felt more relaxed, especially when someone else is at the controls of a V12 motor and a car worth the same as a decent-sized family home in parts of the country.
In fact, combined with the incredible lack of road rumble or any external sound whatsoever, it’s a bit too relaxing for its own good and not at all conducive to work.
The smooth driving of my chauffeur, Andy, adds to the soporific effect. I really am quite ready for a bit of a power nap.
Drive or be driven? While Ray Massey said the thoroughly enjoyed the chilled journey from the back, the delights of the Ghost’s driving performance make it a car he wants to take control of. Not many Rolls-Royce customers will share that opinion
Verdict: Which seat is the Rolls-Royce Ghost best experienced from?
This is a fantastic piece of British engineering with, of course, some significant German input.
On balance, prefer driving it to being driven.
It’s an engaging car that’s easy to relax into and find its charms from the pilot’s chair.
It’s fast, but effortlessly so. It’s exceptionally comfortable, but without being bland.
I really do need to drive it some more. Perhaps after my little nap?
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.