First drive review: Next-gen Rolls-Royce Ghost offers restrained indulgence, sublime ride

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

The next-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost was unveiled earlier this month and AutomotiveMap has already been behind the wheel.

Walking into a zero entry pool, you start your journey with one step, slowly and serenely you’re emerge in the experience. It’s equal parts engaging and relaxing. That same experience is replicated with the new, next-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost.

With restrained proportions and purposeful lines, the aluminum-bodied ultra-luxury sedan takes the best parts of its predecessors from the Goodwood stable and combines them with fresh innovations that make a Ghost riding and driving experience that exceeds the notion of what a Rolls-Royce should be.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

The stately Ghost is a perfect match for the British car company’s stablemates.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

It was 10 years ago, with the new, modern Ghost, that BMW-owned Rolls-Royce recreated the modern driver’s car. Unlike the Phantom, a large car with limousine aspirations, the Ghost is a more personal experience that benefits from its reduced footprint and less regal, though nonetheless austere, appearance.

Ghost buyers are young and fresh, bringing a new idea of luxury to the brand. Most of them drive their cars and while they’re not necessarily as eco-conscious about their drive choice as many in their age demographic group, they’re conscious of their lifestyle choice, seeing their Rolls-Royce as a respite from the world around them.

The outside and inside design of the Ghost are expected and there’s nothing wrong with that. Rolls-Royce has improved the formula offering an upgraded list of features.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

The interior of the Ghost is very expected.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

At the front of Ghost there’s subtle Pantheon grille lighting between sneering headlamps. A strip of metal between the roof and doors channels raindrops away from entering and exiting occupants eliminating the water curtain that erupts when opening a more pedestrian models’s doors.

Inside, the supple luxury of plush upholstery abounds. With leather as soft as silk and comfort in focus, the Ghost carries over the high levels of craftsmanship and artistry expected while employing new techniques. It’s part of the Rolls-Royce “Post-Opulent” design philosophy.

The real wood accents and garnishes throughout the cabin provide an authentic environment, turning the page from the lacquer and shine of the Phantom. Here, Ghost projects its personality in an gently commanding manner. Still, the exactness of the craftsmanship shows through.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

The Illuminated Fascia is made up of 850 LED lights.
Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Ghost’s Starlight Headliner, consisting of a thousand LED lights that are each cut at a different angle to help vary the intensity of the light, much in the same way the heavens appear at night, contains new shooting star functionality while the Illuminated Fascia includes 850 additional LED stars. The effect is stunning but not too much – restrained but extravagant, much like the vehicle itself.

Riding in style and comfort is only half the equation. Ghost offers a connected and effortless drive experience that does not allow the rigors of the real world to interrupt your time behind the wheel.

Power is plentiful thanks to the company’s twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V12 engine. It delivers 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. Larger intake porting has allowed the engine to breathe better and pass along less noise to the cabin, aiding the overall luxury experience. Though low-end torque isn’t as readily available as an eager driver might want, there’s no doubt that the heavy Ghost is powered properly.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

The car’s electronics make the Ghost easy to maneuver at high and low speed.
Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Like the Cullinan, Rolls-Royce’s SUV, the piloting process is early effortless. It’s made even easier by the all-wheel steering that deploys at higher speed to make lane changes more stable and rounding corners a breeze. At speeds under 40 km/h, the Ghost’s steering is led by the front wheels, which makes maneuvering in city traffic nearly as easy as it is in a hot hatch.

The car benefits from parent company BMW’s infotainment technology. The system is easy to navigate and the car’s head-up display offers turn-by-turn navigation complete with lane choice indication that kept me from getting lost while driving in and around Austin, Texas and its suburbs during a 100-ish mile test drive this week.

Ghost features the first fully-digital instrument cluster offered by the company. Like the infotainment system, it features clean design, easy-to-read displays, and works as advertised.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

The car features an all-digital instrument cluster.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Traditionally, Rolls-Royce’s motor cars ride smoothly over most terrain. The way this engineering has evolved to accommodate the fresh company lineup was especially apparent when the Cullinan evolved and immediately proved more than capable of delivering a comfortable ride experience over rugged roads.

Ghost takes that a step further, with its variety of underpinnings soaking up everything but the roughest jolt from the deepest pothole. And, it does it all while keeping the riders in the type of silence that is almost eerie… until you realize that you can’t hear the landscapers as you pass by and you breathe a sigh of relief realizing that this is a true luxury experience.

And that’s what Ghost is all about: a true luxury experience. It’s extraordinary. It’s easy to drive and indulgent. It’s supposed to be.

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