When imperious Rolls-Royce introduced an “entry level” model over six years ago, the automotive aristocracy simply didn’t know what to expect. Some feared that BMW, Rolls-Royce’s parent company, had gone off its rocker.
But fortunately for fans and customers of the brand, that car turned out to be the well-received Ghost, a car that became a sales leader for the company. In 2014, Rolls-Royce decided to make the Ghost even better by releasing an updated version, dubbed the Series II.
Last year, I spent a weekend with a claret-red example. And it was every bit as good as it reputation suggested. So I thought a flashback was in order this summer, just as a reminder of how good a car can be.
Even by Rolls-Royce standards, the Ghost has a lot to live up to. Its namesake is the most famous car in company history: the Silver Ghost. Here it's transporting Prince Charles and ...
.... here with Col. T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) at the helm. Could the Ghost II deliver the experience its lineage promised?
I settled into the soft-leather-lined cabin of the Ghost and immediately knew I was driving something special -- even as a snowstorm took aim at the Northeast.
A Mardi Gras parade could march by, but the Ghost's suspension and sound-isolation technology would block out the noise.
With 616 horsepower, the Bentley is a serious athlete with a 200 mph top speed -- ready to draw on an abundance of power.
There's a BMW 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine under the hood, producing a supercar-esque 563 horsepower. A dash from zero to 60 mph takes 4.8 seconds -- that's Porsche 911 territory. Top speed is capped at 155 mph.
The Ghost even uses satellites to adjust the transmission according to changes in geography. Shifts were the smoothest I've ever encountered -- it's like they're powered by double cream.
The front seat is modern and yet pure Rolls. The thin steering wheel, column shifter, and a dash covered by a plank of Paldao wood harvested from the rain forests of southeast Asia are all throwbacks.
But underneath the classic veneer are state-of-the-art driving tools. The steering wheel is light yet precise. The Ghost also has stability control and adaptive cruise control, plus ...
.... night vision! The infrared camera is perfect if you need to dodge the neighbours' escaped prized stallion.
And then there are the glorious seats: heated, reclining, and with a massage function. They're insanely comfortable, with leather-work that takes craftsmen two weeks to hand-stitch. The hides of nine cows go into every car.
Carefully crafted details can be found throughout the car. The retractable 'Spirit of Ecstasy' hood ornament comes with its own spotlight ...
But there's more! The Roll-Royce emblem in the middle of the wheel floats, remaining stationary no matter how fast the car is going.
Off course, the Ghost comes with the now famous Teflon-coated Rolls-Royce umbrellas. Neat fact: the car will actually dry the umbrella by piping in warm air from the engine.
The Ghost was not without its quirks. Instead of a traditional tachometer, there was a 'Power Reserve' meter. I found myself revving the engine just to make sure it was running!
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