Rolls-Royce Ghost II – Review
By Liam Bird
It’s the looks you notice first; the glances, the stares, the swivels on the pavements. Some faces are agog, some simply smile. There are the looks of appreciation and of pride, and there are those, inevitably, of scorn. The questions then follow; you can see lips mouthing them as you approach, through the windscreen and in the mirrors as you glide near-silently by. Who is that? Where’s that going? How much did that cost? And of course, as you get closer to home: Who the hell exactly does he think he is?
Driving a Rolls-Royce anywhere is a sure-fire way to get noticed, especially in today’s woefully celebrity obsessed “culture” and especially so if it’s a brand new one. Driving one through the sleepier parts of Shropshire? Well that’s a whole different matter entirely. In Houseman’s quietest places under the sun, Rolls-Royces are scarce. Hen’s teeth are perhaps more abundant.
Were it not for the non-private registration on this particular example of what is Rolls-Royce’s smaller saloon, on first inspections I too would’ve struggled to notice the subtle differences between this, the Ghost II, and the previous generation Ghost I was privileged enough to sample at their Goodwood HQ a couple of years ago. Those more akin to such automotive finery will however notice new swage lines, a slightly enlarged grille, new headlamps, subtly re-sculpted bumpers, and a tapered bonnet centre-line – referred to by those in the know as a wake channel. The iconic Spirit of Ecstasy has been pitched further forward too. Overall the changes are subtle, but then one supposes that was the general idea.
“Barely a murmur”
Nellie, as she’s known or Eleanor Thornton to give her proper name also sits a little higher than she once did. She rises gracefully from her hiding place as you unlock the door, then sits atop that famous grille as she always has, and acts as your guide as you thread this most majestic near 2.5 tonne and nigh-on 18 feet long machine down the road.
You sit ensconced in leather from the finest of hides – the aroma is intoxicating – and surrounded by wood, aluminium and stainless steel surfaces so perfectly polished you could shave in them. Despite having a 6529cc 48valve twin-turboV12 sitting just ahead of you producing 563bhp at 5250rpm and 575lb ft of torque at just 1500rpm there’s barely a murmur from under the Ghost II’s long bonnet as you ease the accelerator closer to the deepest of lamb’s wool carpets, the power reserve meter hardly moving as you do. Acceleration, or to put it more accurately in this case, leaving the riff-raff in your wake, is disdainfully effortless.
Gear changes never trouble the driver either. Instead they’re taken care of by an 8-speed auto ‘box that’s assisted with its decision making by the (parent-company BMW derived) Sat-Nav GPS. Approach a corner, it changes down, ease off on a straight and it changes up. Royce’s engineers (Rolls was the marketing man) say it accounts for up to 30% fewer gear-changes. Seamlessly it adjusts itself depending on the topography, and whichever way you look at it, it’s very, very clever.
Pushing the Ghost II a little harder reveals that on occasion its impeccable manners and grace can slip a little. Upon being pointed at a corner the body rolls on to the outer front corner slightly more than you might expect such a sophisticate to do so, before redeeming itself, settling on your chosen course, and tracking your line like an obedient butler. The finger-light steering, an incredibly smooth ride, and the huge diameter trademark thin-rimmed steering wheel make you feel you’re piloting an ocean-liner rather than a luxury cruiser.
But essentially that’s exactly what the Ghost II is: a luxury cruiser; one from the highest order. Buy Rolls’ Wraith instead if you want a sports car with a silver lady. If you’ve the funds, what the hell, buy both. You won’t regret either.
Just imagine what those nosy neighbours would say if you did!
Rolls-Royce GHOST II
Engine: 6,592cc, 12Cyl, 48V twin-turbo petrol
Transmission: 8 speed satellite guided auto. Rear Wheel Drive
Power: 563 bhp @ 5250rpm
Torque: 575 lbft @ 1500 rpm
0-62mph: 4.7 sec
Max Speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)
MPG: 20.4 combined
VED Band: M
Price: £216,864 (before options)