Rolls-Royce Ghost EWB review
Well, you no longer have to upgrade to the bigger, brasher and much more expensive Phantom – you can now buy this new extended-wheelbase Ghost instead.
It may sound like we're being sarcastic, but we're not – there really are people out there for whom a regular Ghost just isn't roomy enough. What's more, many of those people prefer the Ghost's more discreet styling and crisper driving manners to the Phantom's in-your-face ostentation and unrivalled comfort.
That's why the Ghost EWB has been brought to market – because when customers say what they want, Rolls-Royce delivers.
What's it like inside? It depends where you're sitting. When you're living it up in the back, you can stretch your legs out straight in front of you and still not touch the seats in front. That's thanks to the extra 17cm of legroom that the EWB gives you over the standard Ghost.
Your seat is set quite high so you get a good view out, but if you're not in the mood for keeping an eye on things, you can recline your chair electrically, nestle your feet in the gloriously fluffy deep-pile carpet, and enjoy the luxurious feeling you get from all that stitched leather, shiny chrome and polished wood.
There are plenty of toys to fiddle with, too, such as the fold-out tray tables and display screens, plus the rear-seat controls for the entertainment system and climate control.
If you prefer to do the driving yourself, which many Ghost buyers will, you're treated to similarly plush surroundings in the front. You also get a version of BMW's iDrive system, which controls all the car's major functions through a central dial and a small collection of buttons. It's wonderfully instinctive to use, with logical menus and handy programmable short cut buttons.
What's it like to drive? You might initially have a few issues pulling out of 90-degree turns, due to the hefty door mirrors that can block your side view and the long bonnet that you have to poke out into the traffic.
However, pulling out becomes much easier once you discover the cameras on the front wings that give you a better view of what's coming. The car's sheer size is also a little disconcerting on a tight country lane, and when you're manoeuvring.
Things aren't quite perfect when you get out on the open road, either. You expect a Rolls-Royce to waft you along serenely, whatever the state of the road surface. Yet while the Ghost's ride is hardly uncomfortable, it feels a little lumpier than a Rolls should, especially in town. Also, those huge door mirrors generate more wind noise than you expect at higher speeds. That aside, though, it's an extremely quiet place to sit.
The silky-smooth engine is a major contributor to that. The 563bhp 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V12 is capable of rocketing this enormous car from 0-62mph in a staggering 4.9 seconds, but does it in a way that feels smooth and undramatic rather than ballistically fast.
The Ghost stays surprisingly tidy in bends, too, reflecting that fact that this car is the Rolls-Royce that people drive themselves. Body lean is surprisingly well controlled, and with lots of grip and nicely weighted, accurate steering, the Ghost feels secure.
Should I buy one? If you can afford a Ghost, you probably won't care that the EWB costs around £24,000 more than the standard car. After all, you won't have to select too many of the countless optional extras before you've blown that same amount again. Plus, you can gloat to owners of the standard car that your panoramic roof came included in the price, while they had to pay extra for it.
Fuel costs and CO2 emissions won't be deal-breaking issues, either, and it's just as well; the exact figures are yet to be confirmed, but let's face it, they won't be pretty.
Most likely, all you'll care about is that your car has all the space and luxury you expect of a Rolls-Royce, but doesn't shout about it quite as loudly as a Phantom. On that score the Ghost EWB is a pretty good bet.
What Car? says