While that classic behemoth, the Phantom, might be the “saloon car” that most of the world thinks of when you mention Rolls-Royce, the reality is that the brand’s heart, these days, comes in the form of the smaller, more nimble and more affordable Ghost – affordable, that is, if you’ve got $250,000 in spare cash lying around.
The sedan, which first joined the British marque’s line-up a decade ago, is getting a complete makeover and, in pandemic style, we’re getting our first look at the new Rolls-Royce Ghost online.
It is “the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet,” proclaims Torsten Muller-Otvos, the marque’s CEO, with not just the anticipated infotainment technology but a first-of-its kind smart Planar Suspension system, four-wheel steering and even interior lighting that will make you feel like you’re floating in a sea of stars.
One of the most important updates to the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost comes in the form of a unique all-aluminum spaceframe platform no longer shared with the BMW 7 Series. It is, however, used to underpin other Rolls models, including both the Culinan SUV and the Phantom.
When the automaker introduced the Ghost in 2009 it said it was targeting younger buyers who wanted something smaller and less ostentatious than the Phantom flagship.
In terms of size, the new Ghost still may be more compact, but it has grown 3.5 inches longer and 1.2 inches wider, at 221.9 and 77.9 inches, respectively. The new platform adopts independent air suspension at each corner, with the new Planar System designed to make the ride smoother than ever while retaining solid cornering capabilities. The four-wheel-steering system, meanwhile, will allow for tighter turns one might expect from a vehicle of this size.
As to whether the new Ghost is less ostentatious than the Phantom, that’s probably true, but the new sedan’s classic waterfall grille is both wider and taller than on the outgoing model. The headlights have also grown a bit larger, as well. Lighting is, in fact, a key element to the new Ghost’s design. The new grille is illuminated by 20 LED bulbs. Inside, for example, the seemingly solid black instrument panel is actually perforated by lights that form both the car’s name and a constellation of stars. That theme is picked up in the headliner.
This is a Rolls-Royce, of course, and you expect plenty of classic luxury refinements, such as the best of leathers and plenty of open-pored woods and metal accents. This may be smaller than the Phantom but Ghost grants cavernous space to both front and back occupants and, even if there won’t be servants to jump out at each stop, a touch of a button automatically opens or closes all four doors.
Rolls has been teasing the arrival of the Ghost for some time and has put an emphasis on the efforts it has undertaken to eliminate any exterior mechanical noise. It has polished the ducts of the climate control system, redesigned the driveshaft, added 220 pounds of sound insulation and taken plenty of other steps.
“We found that these clients are showing a marked tendency towards luxury objects that celebrate reduction and restraint — that don’t shout, but rather, whisper,” said Muller-Otvos.
It’s also gone out of the way to let you crank up the sounds you do want with 1,300 watts of audio power feeding through 18 customized speakers.
There are plenty of ways to define luxury when it comes to an automobile, but one essential it plenty of power. In this case, the Ghost is motivated by a 6.75-liter V-12 making 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. If your guests in the back seat don’t mind, that’s enough to launch you from 0-60 in about 4.8 seconds, the automaker claims.
The eight-speed gearbox is electronically linked to the navigation system, allowing the car to know where up and downshifts might be called for. Power is then directed to all four wheels.
Meanwhile, forward looking cameras watch the road itself for imperfections, feeding data back to the smart damping system. There are plenty of other high-tech systems onboard, though Rolls appears to be in no rush to catch up to competitors who are beginning to allow limited hands-free driving capabilities.
Rolls has not confirmed when the 2021 Ghost will go on sale. Nor has it released fuel economy or pricing data. Best guess is that it will push up somewhere between the $250,000 and $300,000 mark – to start with. As with all Rolls-Royce models, the automaker will be more than pleased to deliver extensive customization that could add substantially to the starting price.