by Roger Biermann
The Ghost is the smallest car in the Rolls-Royce stable – but being the baby Roller doesn't mean it's a junior in any way, least of all power and luxury. Beneath the hood, you'll still find a large displacement twin-turbo V12, in the cabin you'll find the softest leather and the most pristine wood trims, but underneath the skin, you'll find a GPS guided transmission, and importantly, you'll find the same platform that underpins the BMW 7 Series. Now dubbed Series II since 2015, the Ghost is available in a standard wheelbase, and a 7-inch longer extended wheelbase model.
The inside of a Rolls-Royce is a special place indeed. The Ghost Series II is no different. Upon every surface you'll find the highest quality materials – plush, luxuriant leather, and rich genuine wood veneers. The big rimmed steering wheel is completely round and fuss free, and the design exudes luxury – even the BMW iDrive infotainment system. Inside the driver's door, you'll find the customary bespoke umbrella, now with two canopy colors and one for the beading. You'll also find plenty of space to stretch out, with sufficient headroom front and rear and masses of leg room. Whether you're up front driving, or in the back being chauffeured, the Ghost Series II is a great place to be. However, there is one area where the Ghost is disappointingly packaged. The trunk volume is very small for a vehicle of this size, with only 14 cubic feet.
The Series II drives as a Rolls should – with poise and grace, loftily floating along the road. The air suspension soaks up bumps, large and small, and the ride is akin to that of a magic carpet. But as the smallest Rolls, and being underpinned by a BMW platform, there's a bit of driver enjoyment to be had. A firmer suspension – part of the Dynamic Package, identifiable by a thicker steering wheel – is now offered that reduces body roll on the standard wheelbase model. But when you're playing with 5600+ pounds, it takes a lot of stiffening to make the Ghost a real driver's car. It doesn't succeed – and pitching the Series II into a corner at speed results in one thing – lots of tire squeal and lots of understeer. The Series II is best had with the Dynamic Package, but best driven like a luxury car rather than a sports car.
From Series I to II, the biggest change to the drivetrain comes in the replacement of the gearbox. The new unit is a GPS-guided ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox that plans shifts based on GPS guidance, altitude, and driving style, with no manual shift function. Power is still derived from a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 developing 563 horsepower and 605 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels only, with the 0-60 sprint taking an impressive 4.8 seconds – an incredible feat for such a heavy monstrosity of a land-yacht.
The Ghost Series II is extensively kitted, but can also be optioned extensively too. Standard kit includes front and rear parking sensors, a surround parking camera, heated front and rear seats, all power adjustable with massage function, four-zone automatic climate control, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a 16-speaker audio system, and a 10.3 inch infotainment screen. The extended wheelbase (EWB) receives rear entertainment screens, and rear ventilated seats. The Driver Assistance 3 package equips advanced safety technology such as adaptive cruise control, night vision, heads-up display, and lane departure warning. The Ghost has not been tested by local authorities.
If cargo space matters little, but luxury matters a lot, then the bespoke experience of a Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II is the perfect way to express your wealth. The standard wheelbase is our pick, with starlight headliner, and the Dynamic Package for a slightly more intact ride quality.