Rolls-Royce has unveiled an all-new, second-generation version of the most successful car in its history: the Goodwood-built Ghost saloon. The new model ditches the BMW 7 Series-derived underpinnings of the original car in favour of the latest flexible aluminium spaceframe already used for the Phantom and Cullinan.
Billed as a “slightly smaller, less ostentatious means of owning a Rolls-Royce” than the Phantom, the new Ghost is 90mm longer than its predecessor, at 5549mm, and 30mm wider. It’s powered by a specially adapted version of the 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 introduced with the Cullinan, replacing the outgoing model’s 6.6-litre unit but offering unchanged power (563bhp) with 10% more peak torque, up to 627lb ft.
With a commensurate entry price of £208,000 before local taxes (nearer £250,000 in the UK), the Ghost is claimed to be the company’s most high-tech model yet, even more so than the Phantom by virtue of its standard four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering. It also introduces impressive new ride comfort and noise reduction measures that would appear likely in time to flow through the rest of the range.
The new Ghost’s imminent arrival has already been used by Roll-Royce to introduce the concept of ‘post-opulence’, a quality of design simplicity and purity the company’s researchers say appeals to customers who will make day-to-day use of the car, sometimes by using a chauffeur and sometimes driving it themselves. According to Rolls designer Henry Cloke, who first articulated the post-opulence idea, the flexibility of the new spaceframe allows the Ghost its impressively short front overhang (which in turn improves handling by allowing the engine’s weight to be carried entirely inside the wheelbase), and adds about 30mm of body width while maintaining an uncomplicated body side design.
The car’s styling extends the themes of the previous model. The grille now has a one-piece surround and the retractable Flying Lady now emerges neatly from a simple aperture in the bonnet, not the grille surround, creating a whole new demand for precision engineering. New LED and laser adaptive headlights have a simple but technical design, while the body side’s main feature is a single elegant line, beginning at a vertical front crease then sweeping through the car from the front wings to the extreme rear.
There’s now a close relationship between the new Ghost and Phantom suspension hardware, right?
“Yes, indeed. That’s the whole point of building cars on our shared architecture. It doesn’t mean they have to be the same size or proportions, but it brings many new benefits to Ghost it couldn’t have had before.”
What does your Flagbearer stereo camera see when it looks down the road?
“It doesn’t actually see every bump or pothole; it works to assist our other Planar suspension measures. It’s our way of going the extra mile. In reality, it sees shadows and highlights and can forewarn the system of big road disturbances in time for a change of suspension settings.”
Given all of your noise, vibration and harshness measures, is the Ghost now quieter than the Phantom?
“No, neither in objective nor subjective terms, although they’re now pretty close. In Phantom, you get the benefit of a bit less engine and gearbox noise because you’re sitting farther away from them. Phantom also has a thicker D-pillar and larger cavities in the body for noise-cancelling materials. We checked them regularly, to see how we were faring with Ghost. Mind you, compared with any other car made, both of them are extremely quiet cars.”
Does anyone else use your ‘whisper’ idea for tuning the car’s vibration frequencies? Is this a BMW theory?
“No, we’ve not heard of it from BMW and we’re not aware of anyone else doing it that way. We think it’s one important benefit of having a very small acoustics group; larger teams have specialists in different acoustic areas whose work then has to be integrated. But we all pull in the same direction, and it works.”