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The Top Gear car review:Rolls-Royce Ghost
For:A big Rolls-Royce saloon you might just drive yourself
Against:Every now and then, you'll regret not getting a Phantom
What is it?
The Ghost is a Rolls-Royce to take when the parking is tighter and the chauffeur’s got the day off. Smaller, in the same way a tanker is to a supertanker, the Ghost keeps Rolls-Royce’s imperious manner, but hides it behind slightly more bluff edges and not quite as aggrandising a front grille.
Indeed, driven and specified conservatively, the Ghost doesn’t even draw that much attention from other drivers or passers-by. And those that do notice it don’t react with fury and vitriol, as they might to a Ferrari, Lamborghini or, perhaps, Rolls Phantom, but with respect and deference.
You get let out of side-turnings, and nobody dare tailgate you. After all, you might be some lesser-known royal and therefore worthy of a measure of respect. Or you could have them killed.
Coming from a company that still refers to its products as ‘motor cars’ the Ghost retains old-world charm and luxury despite being largely based on the last-generation BMW 7 Series. You’d never know it, though. Besides the iDrive infotainment system (which you can hide away with the press of a button) there is no obvious component sharing. They don’t drive alike either – the Rolls opting for comfort and waftiness over “The Ultimate Driving Machine’s” gauche and unstatesmanlike sportiness. How very vulgar.
Life moves more slowly in the Rolls, despite the twin-turbocharged V12 that provides more than enough motive force. If effortlessness was indeed Rolls’ aim, it could well have got away with a V8. But that would be a compromise – and Rolls doesn’t do those. Of course, nothing screams opulence and luxury than purposefully having more than what’s strictly necessary.
The Ghost comes in several flavours. There are standard- and long-wheelbase versions (the former doesn’t struggle for legroom), or if Sir would like to drive himself, you can have one with two-doors and either a fixed or convertible top. These are called the Wraith and Dawn, respectively.
Now the Phantom has been completely redesigned and Rolls is about to come out with its first-ever SUV, the Cullinan, the Ghost (and its spawn) is the oldest car in its manufacturer’s range, having been launched in 2009 and last facelifted in 2014. In car years, it’s really quite old. But is it still worth considering over newer rivals from Bentley, Mercedes-Maybach and so-on? Or has the competition caught up and passed (with a regal wave)?