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New Rolls-Royce Ghost: like nothing else

Rolls-Royce Ghost
(Image credit: TechRadar)

There's nothing else on the road that comes close to the new Rolls-Royce Ghost.

The new Ghost is the smaller sibling to Rolls' full-size Phantom, and is aimed at customers who not only want to be driven, but also want to drive their slice of road-legal luxury themselves.

As we sat and listened to Rolls-Royce's presentation of the new Ghost at its launch event, it sounded impressive - almost too good. However, having spent an entire week with the Ghost, we can safely say that it delivers on the promises of comfort, quiet, power, prestige and a driving experience like nothing else.

There's simply nothing more luxurious on the road right now, and unsurprisingly it comes at a cost. The Ghost we drove had a price tag north of £300,000, but for Rolls-Royce customers that figure is pretty much insignificant. This car isn't about its price tag, it's about an experience you can't get anywhere else.

Rolls-Royce Ghost design

We drove

Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Rolls-Royce Ghost
Engine
: W12
Power: 563bhp
0-60mph: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel efficiency: 18.8mpg
Price: £301,775  

While the Rolls-Royce Ghost is a 'smaller' take on the Phantom, it's far from small. Measuring over fiver and a half meters in length, and more than two meters wide, it makes its presence known wherever you are.

It's almost intimidating as you approach it. The vastness of the machine casts doubt in the mind - maneuverability could be an issue here - even though Rolls-Royce claims it's much easier to drive than it may appear.

It's not just the sheer scale and long wheelbase of the new Ghost that draws the eye, however. The iconic, and gleaming Rolls-Royce grille on the front houses a new trick. Illumination.

Rolls has applied lighting to the famous grille for the first time, and when the sun descends beyond the horizon the soft lighting makes its own statement - subtle and sleek.

The Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament stands proudly at the front of the Ghost, and actually provides a useful point of reference from the driver's seat as to where the front of this huge car actually is. 

Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Step out and lock the car, however, that the statue descends into the engine bay, with a smart piece of bodywork moving in to cover the void. Rolls-Royce has refined the design around the mechanism of the Spirit of Ecstasy, with the hood engulfing the statue for a single, seamless piece of bodywork.

The previous generation Ghost had this mechanism in a separate piece of bodywork in front of the hood - creating an additional break in the design.

Things get even better when you get inside, but before you do you need to open up the coach doors - which are hinged opposing each other, opening up the entire side of the vehicle if you opt to open both front and rear simultaneously.

It provides a dramatic entrance to the car, and if you happen to be caught in a rain shower, you'll find a full-size umbrella in the frame of the doors. 

Press the button to release the umbrella and slide it out of the housing. What's more, when you return the umbrella to the door after use, the Ghost will even dry it for you - ensuring no moisture drops are released on its next use.

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Once inside, and you've sunk into the heavenly seats which are more akin to your sofa than a traditional car seat, don't you even think about reaching for the door handle to pull it closed. Oh no, in the Roll-Royce Ghost there's a button for that. The motorized system allows the doors to close themselves unassisted - delightfully decadent. 

They don't, however, have the ability to open themselves in the same manner - but you do get motorized assistance on the rear set. Pull the internal door handle and the door will slowly open itself, so long as you continue to hold the handle and gently move the door outward. 

This helps disguise the weight of the doors, which are large, thick and heavy - and as a result provide excellent sound-proofing. As the doors of the Ghost softly click shut, the sound from the outside world disappears, leaving you in a serene, and extremely comfortable environment.

Rolls-Royce has ensured that the front-seat passenger and driver get the same luxuries as the rear-seat travelers in the new Ghost, as this is a car that owners want to drive as well as be driven in.

The seats - both front and back - are heated, air cooled and feature built-in massage systems with a wide range of different pummeling options. It's not just the seats which are heated however, with the armests between the seats, and on the doors also warming, providing an even more pleasing result.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It's the small details like this additional heating, plus the pillow-like headrests, which help elevate the Ghost experience above other vehicles. There's plenty of legroom for all passengers thanks to the long wheelbase, and glance up and you're treated to Rolls-Royce's starliner roof lining.

This array of lights provides an aesthetic akin to the night's sky. You can adjust the brightness of the stars, and every now and then you may spot a shooting star - giving the whole scene a more dynamic look.

When travelling as the sun goes down, or during the night, the starliner provides a relaxing visual which makes your presence in the car all the more calming.

You'll also notice your feet sink into the luxurious lambswool footmats - a fabulously decadent flourish which encourages you to kick your shoes off to make the most of the soft, plump furnishing.

There's plenty of space for luggage too, with a sizable 500 liter boot providing ample space for multiple bags - something we suspect a lot of Rolls-Royce owners will be pleased to hear.

Rolls-Royce Ghost drive

As we've already established, the Rolls-Royce is a sizable vehicle, and weighing in at 2 and a half tons you'd be forgiven for thinking it wouldn't exactly excel in the performance department, nor be particularly useful going round corners. However, nothing couldn't be further from the truth.

First up, power, and the new Ghost packs in plenty. It comes with a 6.75 liter, twin-turbocharged V12 under the hood which is capable of producing 563bhp. It manages to move the Ghost from 0-62mph in an extremely spirited 4.6 seconds - quite amazing when you consider the size and weight - and it'll continue to climb all the way to (a limited) 155mph.

The power delivery is effortless. The Rolls-Royce Ghost never feels like it's struggling for power, but nor does it ever seem to encourage you to push it further. The power is there when you need it. No fuss, just pure, smooth acceleration. 

Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)

You'll quickly forget about the size and the weight of the Ghost thanks to this, and the supremely light steering. It's once again effortless, with minimal resistance on the steering wheel making it feel like you're in a small, lightweight city car.

The Ghost also features all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering, providing responsive actions to your inputs, and making the car extremely easy to maneuver - even in tighter parking situations.

The steering is so wonderfully light that I thought my personal car had developed a fault when I returned to it after a week in the Ghost. It felt like the steering wheel had been submerged in a treacle as it felt very heavy. There was no issue, it turned out, I'd just become accustomed to Rolls-Royce stunning, effortless steering.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)

All this results in surprising performance in corners, as the Ghost clings to the road and pushes you round. It's certainly not something you'd want to take to the track, but there's enough excitement to keep you engaged as a driver.

Another standout feature here is ride comfort. The Ghost uses a new damper design, which sees it eat up imperfections in the road to ensure your journey is supremely smooth. It features an upper wishbone damper - in short, a damper on a damper - providing an unprecedented ride. 

So the new Rolls-Royce Ghost is effortlessly powerful, elegantly smooth and surprisingly easy to maneuver. However, there's one last piece of the puzzle which makes this like no other car on the road. The sound. Or, more accurately, the lack of sound.

The Ghost features unprecedented levels of sound-proofing, providing driver and passengers with a wonderfully quiet experience inside the cabin. Much of the road noise is cancelled out, and even the V12 engine operates at a near silent capacity - even at high speeds. It creates a feeling of serenity, and one that's very relaxing.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Rolls-Royce Ghost specs and tech

Unsurprisingly, the Rolls-Royce Ghost comes with a host of tech packed into its lofty price tag. For drivers, there's the usual array of aids including adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning - although, unlike many cars these days, Rolls-Royce has opted against lane assistance which sees the vehicle gently nudge you back to the middle if it senses you starting to drift too close to the edge.

You also get blind spot indicators, parking sensors and 360 degree cameras that give you a view all around the car - which is especially useful when it comes to parking.

As car manufacturers move towards putting displays in the instrument cluster, Rolls-Royce has resisted, instead opting for three, larger traditional dials. The central speedometer is flanked by the fuel and engine temperature gauges on the right, and Rolls’ own Power Reserve dial on the left.

However, you're not left completely in the past. The new Ghost has a HUD (heads-up display) which projects key information - such as current speed, the speed limit and navigation directions - into your eyeline on the windscreen. It doesn't overload you with information, giving you just what you need.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Turning attention to the central display and those familiar with BMW's iDrive system will notice the similarities here as Rolls-Royce uses it at its heart, but adds its own interface over the top.

You can use the touchscreen to input commands, or if you prefer there's a rotary dial in the center console between the two front seats which can be twisted and clicked to make selections.

It's easy enough to use, but it doesn't feel quite as fluid as the infotainment systems from Audi or Jaguar Land Rover. There isn't support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as Rolls says it's not something that's high on its customer priority list. There is, however, Bluetooth support allowing you to stream music from your smartphone's apps, as well as make and receive calls via the on-wheel controls.

Under the central armrest you'll find a USB-C port and a wireless charging mat, allowing you to keep your devices topped up.

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)
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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Shifting focus to the rear, and the infotainment takes on another dimension. Our Rolls-Royce Ghost came equipped with screens on the back of the two front seats, which are neatly tucked away behind folding picnic tables. 

Press a button and the tables fold down, the screens fold out and the infotainment system switches on. You can control music playback, view the map and route data if navigation has been enabled, and also select the type and intensity of massage you'd like.

That's not all however, There's a DVD player, allowing you to enjoy a movie, plus a live TV function giving you access to a host of channels - signal permitting.

We found live TV did work well in areas of good signal - such as in city centers - but it was less effective when traveling in the countryside. Rear seat passages can access live TV at any time, while the main display can also access this function when stopped and in park.

Settle down to watch a movie though - close the privacy blinds with just a touch of a button for that cinematic feel - and the Ghost's fantastic, bespoke soundstage impresses. The deep bass rumbles along the floor and the multiple speakers create a superb cocoon of sound.

You'll not only hear the action, but feel it. It's not an experience you'll find in other vehicles.

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

(Image credit: TechRadar)
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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Rolls-Royce Ghost

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As well as a DVD player, rear seat passengers also have access to USB, HMDI and Aux ports - for charging devices and connecting external devices to the displays.

A word on those picnic tables however - they've not particularly big. They can easily accommodate a phone and notepad, but there's not really enough space to balance a laptop on them.

Fold down the central armrest between the two rear seats and you'll get physical controls for the screens - if you'd rather not use the touch input - plus individual recline controls for each seat along with cup holders.

There's another storage area hidden between the two seats, and accessed when the armrest is folder down. Pull the panel down and you'll reveal a 'cool chamber' which comes with two glass champagne flutes and enough space to cool a small bottle of bubbly.

And, as I sip on my champagne during my last few moments inside the Rolls-Royce Ghost before it's collected, I reflect on the machine I've been fortunate enough to enjoy over the past week.

It's not an experience I'll ever be able to afford - nor something many will be able to. The Ghost is brimming with elegance, comfort and exclusivity. You can certainly see the appeal, and if I had to choose how to travel on land - the Ghost would be at the top of my list.

  • John McCann is getting behind the wheel to give you an alternative look at the wealth of cars – and the tech inside them – available today. From super-fast sports cars to tech-packed hatchbacks, he'll take you through a range of makes, models, power and price tags in his regular TR Drives column.