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Tue 1 Sep 2015 04:06 PM

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The spirit of ecstasy

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is everything you expect from this purveyor of magnificent motors. But there are some surpises about it is a beautiful, luxurious, powerful and magnificent car.

The spirit of ecstasy

The Ghost is the true spirit of ecstasy with its simplistic sense of beauty and elegance. While incorporating classic Rolls-Royce design cues – the elevated prow, long bonnet, short front overhang, sharply raked A-pillar and elegant tail – Ghost exudes an informal aura.

This two tonne behemoth is powered by a brand new, 6.6 litre twin-turbo V12 engine, unique to the model. Featuring direct injection, it produces 563bhp – enough to propel Ghost from 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds and on to an electronically governed top speed of 155mph. With 780 Nm of torque available at just 1,500rpm, delivery of power is immediate and extremely smooth.

Power is transmitted through an eight-speed, shift-by-wire, automatic ZF gearbox. What this achieves is a feeling of endless, surging power, which is illustrated by the power reserve gauge on the fascia, replacing the more common rev counter. The new powertrain delivers this performance while emitting just 317g/km of CO2, meanwhile the fuel consumption is a modest 20.8 mpg / 13.6 l/100km.

The interior has a contemporary ambience and peerless comfort. There are elegant, frosted lamps and chrome door handles, traditional violin key switches and eyeball air vents, frosted white dials and refined instrumentation. Deep-pile carpets can be complemented by optional lambswool floor mats for a truly luxurious feel.

The attention to detail is boundless, and so, housed within the substantial front doors are integrated Teflon-coated umbrellas. Whereas, the traditional, rear-hinged coach doors, open to a generous 83 degree, and once the passenger is inside they can be closed at the touch of a button.

The four-zone automatic air conditioning can be individually tailored to each passenger’s requirements, with separate controls for front and rear. Automatic air recirculation, condensation prevention and solar compensation are delivered through classic chromed eyeball vents.

Enhancing the Ghost ambience is an audio system delivering 600 Watts of sound through a 10-channel amplifier and 16 speakers, including two floor-mounted subwoofers. USB and auxiliary inputs allow for the integration of external audio devices and a 12.5 GB hard drive enables storage of music files from USB or CD player sources. The control centre display is concealed behind a veneered panel. All features such as satellite navigation, telephone, communication and entertainment functions are displayed here and managed via a central rotary controller, flanked by quick-access buttons on the front centre console. 

The overriding sense is that you are riding, or gliding, on a bed of air. The double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension work with an intelligent, four-cornered, air-suspension system and electronic variable damping, to deliver the refinement that has been associated with Rolls-Royce for more than 100 years.

In a Ghost you glide sublimely, with such an air of elegance that you barely feel you hand wafting in the wind nonchalantly, like a member of the British royal family – it simply becomes instinct. In fact, it seems most functions in this car are intuitive. Take the suspension, which is so sensitive that it can detect even the smallest of changes. It will sense the movement of a single rear passenger from one side of the seat to the other and compensate accordingly. A complex computer system reads multiple inputs from sensors around the car, and the dampers alone make individual load calculations every 2.5 milliseconds. This ensures not only perfect comfort but also precise steering and dynamics for the driver.

Furthermore, Ghost also has a series of complex electronic aids to keep it composed on virtually any surface – including Anti-Roll Stabilisation, Dynamic Brake Control and Dynamic Stability Control, including Dynamic Traction Control and Cornering Brake Control. These individual technologies work together under dual Integrated Chassis Management systems, meaning that even when subjected to a vigorous test Ghost remains perfectly poised. Its handling and safety systems operate as one, imperceptibly to the driver and passengers, to maintain optimum contact with the road in any condition.

You won’t hear a jot of road noise either. The body has been engineered with a double front bulkhead to help insulate the interior from engine noise. It is constructed from steel sections and then wrapped in steel panels, which are brazed by hand. This allows a near-seamless join, which is then sanded by hand until it is perfect. In total, Ghost’s frame contains 4.9m of seam weld and braze and 6,988 spot-welds.

There is little doubt that the Ghost is more driver-focused than any Rolls-Royce car before it. The driver sits in a slightly elevated position behind the wheel, which makes the view of the road much clearer. Cameras located around the car serve a number of purposes. Rear, front side and top view cameras can combine to give a fish-eye view at blind junctions or provide ground images with obstacle recognition and reverse path prediction when parking.

Another clever feature is the Night Vision camera, which is positioned discreetly within the grille, and works with Pedestrian Recognition to detect objects up to 300 metres away and display them on the central screen in the dash. The car’s control system receives infrared heat images from the camera and, taking into account the car’s speed and direction, classifies them to assess imminent danger. It then determines what action, if any, needs to be taken and if necessary displays a warning to the driver. Furthermore, the Head-up Display relays crucial information such as speed or navigation directions onto the windscreen directly in front of the driver. This information is visible only to the driver and can be tailored to show only the details required and at a position suitable to the driver. 

And for those long journeys the Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go creates a relaxing driving experience, as action is not required when the car ahead speeds up or slows down, even when coming to a standstill. Active Brake Intervention also allows hill descent at a constant speed and the car’s Curve Speed Limiter communicates with the car’s Dynamic Stability Control systems to reduce speed on bends if safety and comfort may be compromised.

You get exactly what you expect when you buy a Rolls Royce – tailor made refinement and the highest possible engineering standards. Although the cars are usually the reserve of more sedate or mature drivers, the Ghost brings another dimension. You have all the luxury and refinement, with the addition of a driver element.

Billed as the ‘smaller, more affordable’ Rolls-Royce, The Ghost is, in fact, neither. It measures 540cm from grille to rear bumper, 40cm less than a Phantom but more than two metres longer than your average family hatch. Kerbweight is around 2.5-tonnes.

But it is most definitely a driver’s car as you get a lot of bang for your buck, with a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12, based on the unit in the BMW 760Li but bored out and revised for extra power and torque. The result is a staggering 563bhp of power and 575lb ft of torque, of which 450lb ft is available from idle, which will the Ghost fly to 60mph in just 4.7 seconds.

The Ghost’s styling is clearly heavily influenced by its big brother, the Phantom, yet with a softer more modern tone, in the usual subtlety understated way that Rolls is synonymous for.

This is a beautiful, luxurious, powerful and, undoubtedly, magnificent motor, and if it weren’t enough Rolls has even hinted that a coupe and convertible version could follow too. Oh happy days...

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