What Car? says...
It’s hard to describe a car costing more than £250,000 as “entry-level”, but the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II is the most attainable car in the brand’s rarefied portfolio.
The new car is, obviously, very different from the famous Silver Ghost of 1906, but it is also very different from its much more recent Ghost predecessor. While that car shared many of its parts with the BMW 7 Series, this Ghost Series II is based on the same aluminium underpinnings as the Cullinan SUV and Phantom saloon – these being exclusive to Rolls Royce. And if this new Ghost is anything like its megabuck stablemates, then owners and passengers are in for a treat.
Like every current car with a Spirit of Ecstasy on its prow, it’s powered by a whopping great big 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine that delivers 563bhp and 627lb ft of torque, with four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering both standard. But chest-thumping acceleration may not be the first thing you associate with the British marque. Instead, you’ll more likely expect exquisitely serene and tranquil cruising manners, and an interior fit and finish to please even the most pernickety and fastidious of well-heeled patrons.
So does the Ghost deliver? Well, without giving too much away, it certainly does. But, of course, such opulence doesn’t come cheaply, and it needs to justify its intimidating price tag, which overshadows such esteemed luxury car rivals as the Audi A8, Bentley Flying Spur, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class. Can it possibly carry this off? Read on to find out. And if you’d like buying your next car to be as relaxing as cruising in a Roller, our New Car Buying service has your best interests at heart.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
That enormous V12 petrol engine is the silent yet savage heart of the Ghost. It pulls effortlessly from low revs, with almost imperceptible gearshifts, ensuring that you simply glide through cities, along country roads and on motorways.
Should the need arise, it will catapult you from 0-62mph in a sports car-worrying 4.8sec, helped by assured traction from the standard four-wheel drive system. And you can retain an impressive pace when the road gets bendy; while the Ghost leans noticeably in corners, there’s masses of grip. The steering impresses, too; it’s helpfully light when you’re sweeping around town but weights up just enough as you go faster to help you place the Ghost accurately with confidence. And, as all four wheels steer as standard, at low speeds the surprisingly easy to manoeuvre for such a long, big, heavy car.
As with every other Rolls-Royce, the Ghost has air suspension as standard. Careful calibration ensures that it irons out most surface imperfections and deals with bigger bumps efficiently enough to make it one of the comfiest cars around, demolishing long journeys like a private jet.
And when you accelerate hard enough to unleash the V12’s tuneful, bassy soundtrack, that’s pretty much the only exterior noise that can penetrate the Ghost’s hefty sound-deadening. When exercising more restraint, the engine is so smooth, hushed and free of vibration that you really will sometimes wonder if it’s running at all. Wind and road noise is exceptionally well suppressed, harmonising with perfectly weighted pedals that make smooth stops and starts an entirely effortless business. This makes it easy for anybody to drive like the Queen’s chauffeur.
Add this all up and, while the Ghost’s Bentley Flying Spur, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class rivals offer similarly impressive performance on paper, none get close to the all-round cosseting luxury the Ghost delivers.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Think you can name a more luxurious car interior than the Ghost? You’ll struggle to come up with anything without a Rolls Royce badge, and even then the Ghost can go toe-to-toe with the luxury offered by the Cullinan and the Phantom.
Exquisite materials and expert craftsmanship are exhibited in every millimetre of the Ghost’s interior. Almost everything is wrapped in leather, carved from wood or milled from metal, and there are precious few man-made environments in which you’ll feel more special.
All the controls feel expensive in their operation, too. Plus, the infotainment system is fantastic. It’s based on BMW’s fantastic iDrive system but wears a carefully tailored Rolls-Royce disguise, and can be operated via the rotary dial controller on the centre console or through the big central touchscreen itself. It’s brilliantly simple to us, and packed with features. There’s also a crisp and clear instrument display that, although entirely digital, still carries the classy look of traditional analogue dials.
This is more than a story of cutting-edge technology and impeccable quality, though; the Ghost also offers sound ergonomics. There’s a terrific range of position adjustment for both the seat and steering wheel, and the forward visibility is pretty good, too. The driver’s over-the-shoulder view is rather hampered by the bulky rear pillars, but a 360deg camera comes as standard for guidance in close-quarters manoeuvring.
Even by the very high standards of today’s luxury car interiors, the Ghost feels a dramatic step up from the efforts from Bentley, Mercedes, Audi and BMW.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
It may be the smallest car in the Rolls-Royce lineup, but the Ghost is still enormous by most standards. At 5549mm long, it is bigger than the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class, and even the Bentley Flying Spur. So inside, you will not be surprised to hear, there is a lot of room. No matter where you’re sitting, whether you’re driving or being driven, it feels very open and spacious.
There is a choice of five-seat or four-seat layouts, and all models have rear-hinged doors – that can be opened and softly closed from the inside at the press of a button. And should you want even more space to stretch out in the rear seats, a longer Extended Wheelbase version is available with an extra 170mm of added between the front and rear axles.
The boot is fittingly massive, too, but while the load bay is very long, access is hampered by a comparatively narrow opening. So while the Ghost will certainly carry your golf clubs or holiday luggage, you may wish to augment it with another car if you need to shift bulky furniture. Plus, if you specify a fridge to sit between the rear seats, it eats into boot space. The agony of justifying that option is one of the first-world problems faced by the Rolls Royce Ghost buyer.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
You will by now understand that the Ghost is an exceptional car. The catch? Well, it is extremely expensive. Vastly more so than any of its rivals. But that will no doubt carry zero shock value to you, and anyone toying with the idea of Ghost ownership is unlikely to be deterred – or surprised – by either its sky-high list price or the huge running costs (that V12 engine brings an official fuel economy of just 18.6mpg, for example).
Of course, there’s lots of equipment as standard but few (if any) will resist the urge to dip into their pockets and take their pick from the seemingly endless options list. You can have TVs, a starlight rooflining (complete with shooting stars), massaging seats, even a backlit front grille. In fact, if you can think of something you’d like to add and have the financial means to pay for it, Rolls-Royce will do what they can to accommodate your whim.
So yes, ultimately an Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and Mercedes S-Class are spacious luxury cars with nice interiors and powerful engines for a lot less money – but that’s like saying that an Asda suit is a cut-price alternative to one from Savile Row.
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|RRP price range||£280,660 - £325,660|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||17.9 - 18.6|
|Available doors options||4|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£20,572 / £23,902|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£41,144 / £47,804|