Test subjects didn't like the near-silence. Here's why.
The second-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost has arrived and we recently had time behind the wheel. Unsurprisingly, the new Ghost left us highly impressed in every way. It is pure luxury at its absolute finest motivated by a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 with 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque that is a masterpiece of engineering.
But there is one key area where the new Ghost differs from its immediate predecessor. Instead of the old steel frame, Rolls-Royce switched to aluminum construction. Not only does this aid in overall weight reduction, but when combined with additional new improvements such as insulating the bulkhead and filling the roof, trunk, and floor with over 200 pounds of sound-absorbing materials, the new Ghost is nearly silent inside. As it turns out, this silence made early test subjects nauseous.
Bloomberg learned from Rolls-Royce chief engineer Jon Simms that during early testing in the car's five-year development period, the car was so quiet it caused those people to become disoriented, "bordering on nausea."
Obviously, that's not a good thing for any vehicle, especially for something considered to be ultra-luxury. How did engineers fix this? Simple. They just found ways to make the car's ride louder. For example, engineers developed a soft cabin undertone by tuning the rear seat frames and other trunk components to vibrate at a specific low frequency. They also recalibrated the V12 engine and opted against offering rev-inducing driving modes such as sport or track.
Additional changes were done to the sound insulation inside the doors and layers were cut from the padded headliner. It's not often that an automaker is requested to make a car's interior even louder, but Rolls-Royce is no ordinary brand. What's going to be very interesting is how the company will deal with the near-dead silence from an all-electric powertrain.
Sometime this decade, the first all-electric Rolls-Royce will arrive and engineers will, once again, be forced to find ways to create interior noise.