2014 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II review
Rolls-Royce has tweaked its entry-level model in a bid to improve the ride and make the cabin even more luxurious. It's time to see if those modifications have made it easier to recommend...
The Ghost is designed to be the entry-level model to the Rolls-Royce range, the option for aggressive, excitable entrepreneurs who want to make a statement and use their car as a tool of business and convenience as well as luxury.
The British manufacturer says it has listened to those customers and incorporated their views into the Ghost Series II, which brings mild mechanical tweaks, a styling refresh and Rolls' engineers claim, and even more accomplished cabin.
The Ghost II gets new headlights and a revised front-end design that's meant to make the car appear wider and more muscular. Every panel at the front, including the substantial bonnet, has been changed, but it's an extremely subtle effect.
The cabin gets a revised fascia, an upgraded infotainment package (including a crystal-glass coating on the iDrive-based rotary controller), and a wider range of veneers and leather finishes. There are also new front seats that are designed to be more supportive.
What's the 2014 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II like to drive?
In short, fast enough to be comfortable – and that's what really counts here. The huge reserves of power and torque from the twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine (563bhp and 575lb ft) are available seemingly from idle (the torque actually kicks in at 1500rpm) so you never feel the weight of the Ghost as you're pulling away. Overtaking isn't much of an issue either; you're far more likely to be limited by road width than you are any gap in oncoming traffic.
The eight-speed transmission is excellent, meanwhile, with smooth, slick shifts. It now uses data from the sat-nav to predict the optimum gear for the road ahead – a trick that reduces the amount of gear changes by 30%. It's remarkably adept at choosing the right ratio as you approach you get to tighter corners or hills.
Braking is a slightly more involved process; the pedal response takes some getting used to and you're never likely to forget that you're hauling almost two and a half tonnes of vehicle to a halt. However, the outright stopping power is sufficient and you'll soon learn (or your driver will) to allow a little extra space to ensure a smooth drive.
The ride quality is mostly good; the Ghost Series II has revised rear suspension and as a result it's more comfortable over larger bumps. Bridge expansion joints and larger potholes are generally smoothed over, with little intrusion into the cabin. At low speeds, and over broken surfaces, you still feel a little patter coming through the seat, but it's definitely a step on from the previous Ghost, which was too unsettled around town.
Mechanical refinement is impressive, too, with precious little engine noise to speak of, and virtually no discernible wind roar – even from around the side mirrors. Just be careful when speccing the wheels, though; on British road surfaces we noticed a fair bit of rumble from the optional 21-inch items fitted to our test car.
We've also tried another Ghost II with the Dynamic package, which is designed to tighten up body control and give a slightly more involving drive. The car does stay impressively flat in corners, but there's a trade-off in ride comfort that seems a strange compromise to make on this type of vehicle. We'd avoid ticking that particular box on the options list.
What's the 2014 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II like inside?
Rolls-Royce says that existing Ghost customers will notice the improved quality of the Series II compared with the old model's. For the rest of humanity, it's sufficient to say that the Ghost's cabin is opulent and beautifully finished, at the level that you only get from skilled craftsmen. The leathers and veneers are of an astonishingly high quality and it all feels tightly screwed together.
There are still BMW touches that we'd like to see covered up more effectively, mind you; crystal glass or not, there's no disguising that you've got an iDrive infotainment controller between the front seats, and 'shortcut' buttons (the type you can get on a 1 Series, albeit now in glass instead of black plastic) are prominent on the fascia.
Those new front seats are an improvement; they strike a good balance between support and comfort; the extra bolstering manage to keep a substantial frame in check unless you really throw the Ghost at a corner in an uncouth fashion.
The rear area brings more than enough leg- and headroom for lanky adult, a shagpile carpet you could lose your feet in, and reclining seats that are extremely comfortable. This might be the 'baby' Rolls limousine but there's enough sense of occasion in the back – not to mention independence from the front, in terms of heating and infotainment systems – to make it feel well-suited to either a late-night cruise back home or an early-morning power trip to a board meeting.
Rolls-Royce's Bespoke division has also created a wider range of potential customisation for the Ghost Series II, incidentally. That may sound a little unnecessary but then, around 80% of original Ghost customers added their own personal touch to the car.
Should I buy one?
The Ghost Series II remains a personal, emotional choice for fabulously wealthy individuals, but there are fewer reasons now for them to pass the car by. Rolls-Royce has taken a decent luxury uber-limo and improved key areas by a few percent.
That may not sound like much but the margins and standards at this end of the market are so strained that it's a worthwhile gain – enough, certainly, to lift the Ghost Series II above 'conventional' rivals from Bentley and Mercedes.
What Car? says...
Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II
Engine size 6.5-litre twin-turbo petrol
Price from £216,684
Torque 575lb ft
0-62mph 4.8 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 20.2mpg