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The Top Gear car review: Rolls-Royce Ghost
For:Sublime build quality, engineering integrity, phenomenal refinement, charismatic
Against:Heavy, thirsty, it costs a quarter of a million quid
What is it?
Perhaps you’re struggling to identify this all-new Rolls-Royce Ghost from the outgoing car, but as ever, the team behind it has really sweated the details. Not that anyone at R-R does anything as unseemly as perspire, but you get our drift. Apparently the only carry-over components from the first Goodwood-era Ghost are the Spirit of Ecstasy that sits at the prow of that vast bonnet, an elegant emissary from a distant postcode, and the umbrella that nestles within the B-pillars in that faintly Q-from-James Bond gadgety manner. According to CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos, “everything else was designed, crafted and engineered from the ground up. The result is the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet. It distils the pillars of our brand into a beautiful, minimalist, yet highly complex product that is perfectly in harmony with our Ghost clients’ needs and perfectly in tune with the times”.
There is much to unpick here. More so even than the Phantom, this is the Rolls model that pushes the technology boundaries, introducing some cool new hardware in the search for the sweet spot that defines a car designed to be driven as much as it is to be driven in. (American and European owners tend to the former, Asian clients the latter.) Then there’s the way it looks, an evolved aesthetic that’s as restrained as any car with a grille modelled on the Parthenon could ever be. Rolls calls it ‘post-opulent’, ‘limited, intelligent, and unobtrusive’. We’d say anti-bling. More client-centric than most luxury good companies, Rolls’ ‘luxury intelligence unit’ (wot, no customer research?) has discovered that Ghost buyers don’t like dashboards festooned with a gazillion buttons, they think less is more (as long as what remains is seriously good), and they’re not snootily oblivious to a world in which a Swedish schoolgirl wields more influence than most politicans and a pandemic has ravaged the global economy. This isn’t quite luxury with a conscience, not with a 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 (563bhp and 627 torques – all of which is available from just 1,600rpm) and much cosmically sumptuous leather inside to protect sensitive plutocratic behinds. But the attention to detail is mesmeric, the body’s familiar form newly reduced in terms of shutlines or anything even in the ballpark of being extraneous.
Rolls’ proprietary alumunium spaceframe underpins the Ghost, fully distancing the new car from the Munich mothership. It’s 30mm wider than the old car, a small but not insignificant amount that promotes a better stance; at 5546mm long and 2148mm wide it occupies a lot of road space (and weighs 2,490kg). Twenty LEDs hidden within the top of the grille offer subtle illumination, all the more so because the vanes have been sandblasted to reduce the ‘hall of mirrors’ effect (anti-bling, remember). Nautical allusions abound: the car’s proud snout is delineated by a bow line, the sills are helped by a ‘waft line’ which coerces reflections into doing the right thing, and the rear tapers in markedly leaving a surprising amount of rear tyre visible. (There’s also a hint of Rover 75 going on there, but that was an elegant looking car, if somewhat cheaper to buy these days than the Ghost.) The car’s hand-welded aluminium structure means that its body has a seamless flow to it, interrupted only by its windows. Well, as reductionist as this car is we can hardly do without those.