Unlike other Rollers, the Ghost is best enjoyed from the driver's seat.
It's been more than a decade since Rolls-Royce revealed the first-generation Ghost, which was catered towards buyers who didn't want the size and ostentatiousness of the larger Phantom. Now, the all-new 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost has arrived, and it is truly all-new from the ground up. In fact, only the Spirit of Ecstacy hood ornament and door-mounted umbrellas carry over from the previous Ghost.
Unlike other Rollers, the Ghost is designed to be driven rather than to be chauffeured around in. It still excels as a luxury limousine, especially in its extended wheelbase guise, but after spending some time with the new Ghost, we found it to be the best-driving car the brand has ever made. We traveled down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to drive the new Ghost, and after getting behind the wheel, we want to explain why the driver's seat is the best place to be.
Anyone who criticized the previous Ghost for riding on a modified BMW 7 Series platform probably never drove one. The two cars couldn't have felt more different, but buyers demand a bespoke experience when spending over $300,000 on a new car. We are happy to report then that this new Ghost rides on the Rolls-Royce Architecture Of Luxury. In short, this means the second-generation Ghost shares more in common with the larger Phantom and Cullinan than it does with any BMW currently in production.
The Ghost follows what Rolls-Royce calls a "Post Opulence" design philosophy. It means that the styling must be limited, intelligent, and unobtrusive. This new Ghost looks less ostentatious than the Phantom, but it still attracts attention as a Rolls-Royce should. Every panel on the car is new, though the overall design feels more evolutionary than revolutionary. At night, the Ghost shines like a new suit of armor with 20 LED lights integrated into the grille. For the time ever, Rolls tasked its engineers with mounting the Spirit of Ecstacy on the hood rather than the grille, creating cleaner lines upfront. The design looks athletic but not aggressive, hinting that this Rolls-Royce is ready to be driven spiritedly.
There is no engine envy in the Ghost since it uses the same 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 found in the Phantom and Cullinan. Here it produces 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, which we'd describe as more than adequate for leaving lesser cars in your 14-karat gold dust. Rolls-Royce surprisingly quotes a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds, which feels rapid given the two-ton-plus curb weight. It isn't the sheer power of the V12 that's impressive, though; it's how that power is delivered.
No car surges forward so effortlessly as a Rolls-Royce. There isn't even a tachometer, just a Power Reserve Gauge, letting the driver know what percentage of the engine's power remains to leave poor people in their wake. 5% of the engine's power is enough to send the Ghost silently barreling down a highway, while 100% is a recipe for massive grins.
Comfort is a hallmark of any Rolls-Royce product, and the Ghost is no exception. It features a brand-new Planar Suspension System featuring the marque's Magic Carpet Ride technology. There are many components to this, all of which combined to ensure that the Ghost floats over road imperfections without disturbing occupants. A world-first Upper Wishbone Damper unit above the front suspension assembly helps stabilize the front end, while the Flagbearer system uses GPS to scan the road ahead to prep the car for bumps.
Rolls-Royce uses a bespoke Planar software system that analyzes data from the Flagbearer system and corrects the double-wishbone Magic Carpet Ride suspension on the fly. With continuously variable, electronically controlled shock absorbers and self-leveling air suspension, not even a massive pothole can disturb the Ghost.
In every respect, the Ghost excels as a luxury car, but this second-generation model is better than ever to drive. It now features an all-wheel-drive system, meaning it can be driven even if there's snow on the ground, and it now packs rear-wheel steering. These two innovations help make the Ghost feel more agile than other Rollers, especially around tight bends. The Ghost skirts around corners like a car half its size. Driving a car with the Ghost's heft can often feel cumbersome, but the rear-wheel-steering reduces the burden and makes the car feel spry.
Even the steering feels more communicative than it does in other Rolls-Royce models. Whereas the Phantom and Cullinan can be motivated left or right with the lightest poke of the wheel, the Ghost's steering requires slightly more vigor and involvement. We can't say it matches the Bentley Flying Spur on driver-focused pleasure, but the Ghost easily outmatches its fellow UK rival on comfort without feeling dreary behind the wheel.
The Ghost's interior is fabulous from any seat. All of the leather thrones offer massage functions, and if that's not relaxing enough, the starry night headliner and starlit dashboard panel make the cabin feel like a tranquil night in the wilderness. From the driver's seat, the Ghost's controls all fall easily to hand, and every single interface is either made of high-quality metal or wrapped in leather. It takes a while to learn where all of the buttons are since Rolls likes to arrange its interiors uniquely, but once it becomes familiar, it all feels intuitive.
Though this is the best-driving Roller, it's also a special vehicle to be chauffeured in. The rear seats slide and offer power-folding picnic tables with deployable infotainment screens, with easy access to a cooler housing mounted champagne flutes.