Luxury has become a misconstrued term in the world of automobiles these days. Car-makers are under the illusion that luxury is a byproduct of technology. Rolls-Royce thinks otherwise. (More on new supercars waiting in the wings for 2021 here.)
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The new generation Ghost steers clear of exposed gadgetry. It concentrates on strengthening the pillars of luxury on which its predecessor were based on. Introduced in 2009, the previous Ghost was the most successful car in the Rolls-Royce portfolio ever. That version introduced the brand to a new clientele.
It was a crucial addition to the Phantom. The new car quietly enhanced the reach of Rolls-Royce while still preserving the values that it upholds. The Phantom was always in the limelight. But the Ghost has been arguably the more important car.
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However the new generation Ghost comes at a tricky time when the world is caught in a whirlwind. For Rolls-Royce a radical change was not in order but something to soothe the nerves. “Post Opulence” is the term which Rolls-Royce uses to describe the philosophy behind the new Ghost. It is simply based on the fact that its customers prefer a minimalist approach towards luxury. That means being without the in-yer-face malaise that seems to be gripping most modern luxury cars.
“Post Opulence” minimalism
A sportier stance
Shut-lines are kept to a bare minimum for a smooth and un-interrupted shape. The haunches are more ‘relaxed’. It is less upright now while the grille and laser headlamps are more pronounced. You also get an illuminated grille, albeit with a subtle undertone.
When viewed from the rear, the new Ghost is anything but a Rolls-Royce. However the surfacing is tighter along with re-designed tail-lamps. It is wider and longer too. That also helps to create a sportier stance while also signifying that is less formal than its predecessor.
Rolls-Royce claims that only the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and the umbrellas in the doors are carried forward. Everything else is brand new. The interior meanwhile is a braver step taken by Rolls-Royce here. Bottom line is it stubbornly rejects the newer design trends and sticks to what its customers want.
It has a touch-screen but alongside that are large, beautifully finished knobs.
Brand new: Illuminated fascia
There are no piano black surfaces or glossy touch-screens. Instead you get large slabs of open-pore wood being lovingly draped all over the cabin. There is also metal and leather used to the finest quality. Elsewhere your gaze is dominated by the start-light headliner – a Rolls-Royce staple. New to the Ghost is an illuminated fascia with 152 LED and 90,000 laser-etched dots spread across the entire surface.
While all this is indeed impressive, the rear seat is arguably the more important place – at least for clients in Asia where most owners are chauffeur driven. Access to the rear seat is an elegant affair, while owners also can open/close the doors with “power assistance”.
Micro-Environment Purification System
Rolls-Royce claims the new Ghost is its most technologically advanced car yet. With that in mind, it has sprinkled some of the best technology it can find. But they are also carefully keeping it at an arms-length.
It is discreetly hidden away but a few highlights include the Micro-Environment Purification System which is capable of removing nearly all ultra-fine particles from the cabin in less than two minutes. Then there is a sophisticated suspension system which uses cameras to scan the road surface ahead and “prepare” the suspension. Alongside that you have a plethora of safety and security systems on-board.
With so much to take in, I nearly forget that I am here to also drive it. And here it is business as usual with a 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine which develops 563bhp (brake horsepower) and 626 ft-lbs. of torque. Rolls-Royce is yet to embrace an electric power-train and has dismissed hybrids as a possible interim solution.
You do not drive the Ghost as much as revel in its silence and waft along with utter nonchalance. It is one of those motoring experiences that lowers your pulse. And yet it still involves you in its unique driving experience.
Rolls-Royce stays true to its definition of “luxury”
It is proper super car quick yet delivers the sensation of speed in a relaxed manner. The new bespoke architecture enables Rolls-Royce to make the car more enjoyable to drive without straying too far from the core company DNA of comfort above everything else.
It is certainly more dynamically inclined than the previous Ghost while delivering a superior ride. Oh and it is also the most silent luxury car you would come across. How did they accomplish that? Rolls-Royce went to great lengths to remove any acoustic anomalies and added in a lot of sound-deadening material.
In the end it is quite hard to criticize the new Ghost. Rolls-Royce has simply honed and fettled the previous recipe to perfection. It is not a radical change from its predecessor. But then it didn’t need to be in the first place.
A Bentley is sportier while the new Mercedes S-Class packs in more technology. Yet somehow Rolls-Royce has stayed true to the concept of “luxury” more than others. And with the new Ghost, they have created an exceptional motor car.