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Car Review

Rolls-Royce Ghost review

£258,800 - £291,200
810
Published: 24 Nov 2021
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Seamless flow. That could also describe the way the Ghost moves. In keeping with its name, there’s an almost ethereal quality to the way it comports itself. Rolls-Royce doesn’t make anything as humble as a mere car; these are bespoke luxury mobility experiences. The Ghost’s steering wheel is a touch chunkier than it should be, but the drive selector is as slender as ever, its functionality blissfully simple to use. You don’t drive a Ghost so much as finesse it along the road. For all that its engineers claim that this is the driver’s Rolls-Royce, it has about as much in common with a Caterham Seven as a Seven does with a cross-channel ferry.

Yet they really have pulled out all the stops. That modular aluminium chassis has had its bulkhead, floor, crossmembers and sills repositioned to improve its handling aptitude. The front suspension assemblies are further forward, and the engine sits behind the front axle. It also uses all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering for what Rolls calls a ‘purposeful’ new personality, ie: greater dynamism. On our test drive across the South Downs, it reveals itself to be a car that moves with terrific alacrity, given its size and weight. Whatever sort of Rolls this is, it’s not a car you’re inclined to thrash, but if you do give it the hurry up it steers with muted feel but terrific linearity, and its body control is indeed tremendous. Perhaps because you sense there’s a VIP in the back even if there isn’t, it’s a car you find yourself driving more considerately. It encourages and rewards good discipline, promotes a less frenzied mindset.

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What else? Oh yes, its ride. We’re talking almost mystical levels of compliance and control. There’s double wishbone suspension at the front and a multi-link set-up at the rear, air springs all-round and adaptive dampers, although there’s only one set-up and nothing configurable. That’s not the R-R way and the car has no need of software gee-gaws (you can’t manually interfere with that velvety smooth transmission either). Things have improved yet again thanks to something R-R calls the Planar Suspension System. This adds a mechanical mass damper on the upper wishbone on the front suspension to enhance body control, and it works in tandem with the existing Flagbearer system which reads the road ahead using cameras so that the surface imperfections are erased before they’re even allowed to gatecrash the occupants’ gilded world.

On top of that, R-R promises a car of unfeasible tranquility and well-being. In another of its splendid catchphrases, the company calls it the Formula for Serenity. As well as utilising the latest sound-deadening material (100kg of it) and expertise, R-R’s acoustic engineers have identified ‘hidden inputs’ and examined every component to determine whether they create a sound that’s deemed unacceptable. The result is what R-R calls a ‘near-silent’ soundstage, and it really is hushed. It’s also harmonised to avoid discombobulating the occupant: the quieter the environment, the more likely any sort of noise is to irritate (think mosquito buzzing round anotherwise silent bedroom). Tyre noise is well suppressed, and the engine’s presence is theoretical 90 per cent of the time, and not even that pronounced on full throttle (there’s a distant but cultured roar, 0-62mph taking 4.8 seconds, top speed limited to 155mph). The barn door-sized door mirrors make a bit of a kerfuffle, but nothing untoward. I asked if Rolls was considering slim-line, hi-tech door cameras instead, but apparently its owners don’t fancy the idea much.

The Black Badge version mixes things up with a darker chrome plating for the Spirit of Ecstasy and Pantheon Grille, while the 21-inch wheels are BB Ghost-specific and made up from a carbon-fibre ‘barrel’ with a forged aluminium hub bonded to the rim with “aerospace-grade titanium fasteners”. Under the skin there’s a bump of 29bhp to 592bhp and an extra 37lb ft of torque for a total of 664lb ft. “More voluminous air springs help to reduce body roll under more assertive cornering,” while the braking bite point has been raised slightly and pedal travel decreased – although the braking system remains the same as standard Ghost, albeit with the new option of bold colours for the brake callipers.

Where it gets mildly more exciting is when you hit the ‘Low’ button on the gear-selector stalk. This amplifies the engine through an entirely new exhaust system, although if you’re expecting this to uncork a crackling Italian V12 soundtrack… sorry, the difference is subtle. It also unlocks the full 664lb ft of torque from 1,600rpm, increases gearshift speeds from the eight-speed ZF auto by 50 per cent, and sharpens up the throttle mapping. Again, restrained tweaks, nothing raucous.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Rolls-Royce Ghost 4dr Auto
  • 0-62
  • CO2
  • BHP571
  • MPG
  • Price£258,800

the cheapest

Rolls-Royce Ghost 4dr Auto
  • 0-62
  • CO2
  • BHP571
  • MPG
  • Price£258,800

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