First Drive: The Rolls-Royce Ghost takes luxury performance to a new level

Jack Evans
·6-min read

What is it?

Rolls-Royce Ghost
The long wheelbase means that there’s loads of interior space

Rolls-Royce is a company steeped in tradition. Throughout the decades, it has evolved and shifted but remained absolutely dedicated to ensuring that it delivered the classiest, most luxurious and most high-end cars possible. Needless to say, the arrival of a new one is quite a big deal, and that brings us to this – the new Ghost.

Effectively acting as the ‘entry’ point to the Rolls-Royce line-up, the Ghost arrives with a more driver-focused setup than ever before, as well as a host of innovations for both the cabin and exterior. The question is, can a modern Rolls-Royce move the game on while bearing in mind the traditions of the past? We’ve been behind the wheel to find out.

What’s new?

Rolls-Royce Ghost
The huge front grille is hard to miss

Things have taken a distinctly modern swing for the new Ghost. Whereas its predecessor was underpinned by a BMW 7 Series-sourced chassis setup, this new version sits atop Rolls-Royce’s latest aluminium spaceframe architecture which is already being put to use in both the Phantom and Cullinan SUV.

The engine is new too – we’ll get to that in a moment – while the suspension has been designed to offer the kind of sublime, buttery-smooth ride you’d expect from a car with a Spirit of Ecstasy on the nose.

What’s under the bonnet?

Rolls-Royce Ghost
A large V12 engine resides behind the large grille

Look underneath the Ghost’s long, flowing bonnet and you’ll find a 6.75-litre, twin-turbocharged V12 engine. Much the same as the one you’ll see powering the Cullinan, it produces a healthy 563bhp and 850Nm of torque. When set to task pushing the car, the engine combines with all-wheel-drive to send the Ghost from 0-60mph in just 4.6 seconds and onwards to a top speed limited to 155mph, ushered through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

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When it comes to fuel economy the Ghost, unsurprisingly, is quite thirsty – though it’s not quite as bad as you might think. Rolls-Royce quotes up to 18.6mpg combined while CO2 emissions stand at 343g/km. For a huge V12 engine, that seems almost respectable.

What’s it like to drive?

Rolls-Royce Ghost
The Ghost sprints off the line keenly

It’s actually hard not to be taken aback by how hushed and refined the driving experience is in the Ghost. Any exterior noises are isolated from entering the cabin handsomely well, meaning that you’re free to just sit back and relax, taking in the surroundings without having to deal with anything as mundane as noise.

But boy does it pick up quickly. That V12 engine provides sumptuous, almost unending levels of shove which helps to push the Ghost up to speed in a scarcely believable fashion. It’s an almost unnatural sensation; since you’re so well insulated from the outside, the rate of speed that you’re travelling at is hard to notice until you glance down at the speedo.

The steering is light, too, while the four-wheel-steering means that the Ghost is far more agile at slower speeds than you might think. That said, its sheer size does result in some added consideration being required when parking or navigating tighter bends.

How does it look?

Rolls-Royce Ghost
The Ghost handles surprisingly keenly

In truth, the Ghost looks just how you’d expect a Rolls-Royce to look. It has masses of presence, with that huge front grille and sleek headlights combining to create a front end that is hard to miss. The various metal elements give a real tangible feel to the Ghost’s look, though, while the sweeping roofline and tapered rear end have more than a hint of fastback to it.

But in the metal, it doesn’t feel overly flash or flamboyant. Whereas an out-and-out supercar is designed to turn heads, the Ghost’s styling is far more restrained and more understated. Sure, it’s hard to miss it wherever it goes, but it’s an impressive example of how to do premium styling without overcooking things.

What’s it like inside?

The interior is beautifully finished
The interior is beautifully finished

It’s inside where things really start to impress. The level of fit and finish inside the cabin of the Ghost is nothing short of palatial, with everything you can reach out and touch crafted from high-quality materials. For those sitting in the back, that means soft, waxy leather and real wood tables; there are fold-down screens fitted to the seat backs which allow you – or your passengers – to watch television on the move or view settings about the car. There’s even a champagne fridge in the middle, complete with crystal glasses.

Rolls-Royce Ghost
An illuminated fascia sits in front of the passenger

Look up, and a starry sky looks back at you courtesy of Rolls-Royce’s starlight headliner. It could feel like a gimmick on paper, but in reality, it’s superb and adds sparkle to the cabin – both figuratively and literally.

What’s the spec like?

Rolls-Royce Ghost
A champagne fridge hides behind the armrest

Given that ‘our’ Ghost chimed in at over £300,000, it’ll come as little surprise that it was packed to the rafters with features and systems. You get electronically operated doors, front and rear massaging seats – with heating and ventilation, too – as well as lambswool floor mats and that central champagne fridge.

Rolls-Royce’s famous umbrellas are incorporated into the doors, while you also get headrests monogrammed with the RR logo. The central infotainment screen uses much of the architecture you’d get from a BMW vehicle, but this is no issue; it’s simple and easy to operate and offers all of the functionality you could want. It also gives you the ability to raise and lower the Spirit of Ecstacy model – a function that never failed to amuse us. In terms of personalisation, the Ghost can be changed to all manner of specifications. In short, if there’s an idea that you have in mind, there’s a good chance Rolls-Royce can make it happen, providing your funds stretch as far as your imagination.

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Verdict

It’d be almost pleasing to report that with its huge price tag the Rolls-Royce Ghost wasn’t worth the money. It would almost be easy to claim that this is an overladen, underperforming and over-the-top way of getting about. But it just isn’t.

The Ghost feels worth every single penny of its asking price – and then some. The bottomless well of power delivered by the V12 engine, the level of refinement that you get and the overall theatre-like experience that you get from the cabin combine to create a car that feels like an event to both drive and be driven in. As an example of what a car can be, it’s remarkable. Whoever gets the keys to one will find themselves behind the wheel of one of the best luxury saloons on sale today.