Hushed character; strong acceleration; surprisingly nimble handling; hand-finished details and workmanship; exclusivity
The Rolls-Royce Ghost is powered by a mammoth 6.6L twin-turbo V12, making 563 horsepower. It's hooked to an 8-speed automatic transmission, with a column-style shift lever. The engine makes its peak 575 pound-feet of torque at just 1,500 rpm, so the Ghost 'wafts' up to speed in classic English luxury-car fashion, albeit with even less noise in the cabin than in past Rolls-Royce models. Zero to 60 mph acceleration takes just 4.7 seconds, while the top speed is an electronically limited 155 mph.
The Ghost follows Rolls-Royce styling tradition on the outside, for the most part, with a long hood, short front overhand, and upright windshield--along with a boxy tail--but the model has just a little more modern panache, on the inside especially. The hood, grille and windshield surround can be done in a polishes satin finish if desired.
Teflon-coated umbrellas are integrated into the front doors, while the rear-hinged rear doors open up to 83 degrees and can be closed by just touching a button. A panorama sunroof lets a lot of light in from overhead as well, while quad-zone climate control makes sure that everyone is comfortable.
Optional 'individual lounge' seating provides a massage function for all of the positions, as well as ventilated perforated leather upholstery; also available is a chilled cooler box, with added illumination and integrated champagne glasses. Yet another addition is the small wood-veneer picnic tables--fitted to the back of the front seats, with leather-covered backs.
Cabin materials and craftsmanship have long been Rolls-Royce strengths; with natural veneers, hand-matched woodgrain, hand-stitched interior panels and drum-dyed soft leathers offered in many different colors--along with a number of other custom trims--it's nearly impossible that any two Ghosts will look the same.
Rolls-Royces have a tradition of being rather simple when it comes to technology features, but the Ghost pushes that a bit. On the center console, a rotary controller accesses tasks like navigation, communication, and entertainment functions; and a roller-ball controller on the steering wheel helps navigate through some of the menus. There's also voice control.
Entertainment is provided by a majestic 600-watt, 10-channel, 16-speaker sound system with two floor subwoofers, hard-drive storage, USB and aux inputs. An entertainment system with two 9.2-inch LCD screens installed in back of the front seats, is also offered as an option.
Underpinning the Ghost, which is built on a steel monocoque structure, is a 4-wheel independent suspension with air springs front and back, controlled via an automatic adaptive variable suspension system. The system can even detect the distribution of passengers and adjusts accordingly. The Dynamic Stability Control system also works together with this system and Cornering Brake Control to give the Ghost a more nimble feel than is typical for such a large, heavy sedan.
A host of active-safety features are available in the Ghost, like a night vision system, head-up display, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and active cruise control. There's even an Advanced Crash and Safety Management system that uses sensors to decide which safety features to deploy.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost has changed very little going into 2011. The Ghost gets updated audio systems and Bluetooth connectivity functions, while the model line now gets the same 'bespoke' order and customization system afforded to Rolls-Royce Phantom buyers.
With a price beginning at around $250,000, the Rolls-Royce Ghost competes with the likes of the Bentley Continental Flying Spur and the Aston Martin Rapide. While the more expensive Phantom is offered in a full family of body styles, including a Coupe and 'Drophead Coupe' convertible, the Ghost is only offered as a sedan. The Ghost is one of the longest cars on the market, yet it can feel surprisingly nimble for such a large car; it doesn't feel much heavier than the BMW 7-Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class in the corners, but its true heft translates to excellent road-holding on the highway. Exclusivity versus those more 'ordinary' luxury sedans is of course one of the biggest selling points--as is the 'bespoke' process of specifying and ordering your own custom-tailored interior, trims, and special features.
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