ALAN DOUGLAS: Motors report – Rolls-Royce Ghost verging on 'an automotive work of art' with a price tag to match
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You’ll be lucky to get 18 miles out of every expensive gallon, but if that worries you, then this car is definitely not for you.
Frankly, if you can’t afford the fuel, you certainly haven’t got the money for the car itself.
With a starting price of around a quarter-of-a-million pounds, the latest version of the Rolls-Royce Ghost is without doubt a beautiful machine, verging on an automotive work of art.
I spent a delightful few days with one, and loved every minute although it’s no good if you want to keep a low profile as it attracts attention – mostly admiring – from pedestrians and other motorists alike.
It is the most technologically-advanced Rolls yet, and the most successful model in the marque’s 118-year history.
This car has everything you could wish for, from its massive 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 engine, pumping out the power of 563 horses with outstanding torque, to a starlight roof lining and a passenger-side fascia lit with 850 stars which gently twinkle at nightfall.
RR have mastered the art of combining opulence with practicality as you sink into the sumptuous heated and massaging leather seats while your feet settle on the thick lambswool carpets.
Like all new Rolls-Royces, there is no set price because what it will cost you depends on what you specify. Each car is individual in that you can have whatever you want in it – at a price.
So the test car had a price tag of “about” £320,000 but that figure is flexible and you could face a long wait for delivery as it is hand built by the 2000-strong workforce at the Goodwood headquarters in West Sussex. “Provenance” models – they’re not called “second-hand” – find buyers quickly at the most northern of the seven dealerships in the UK, at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Edinburgh which covers Scotland, Northern and Southern Ireland and part of the north of England.
The Ghost was introduced 12 years ago as less ostentatious than the flagship Phantom and this latest version is effectively a new car with the only components carried over from the original being the umbrellas, hidden in the structure of the doors, and the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy above the classic radiator grille.
It’s longer and wider than the previous model, and the suspension has been changed to allow the huge V12 engine to be placed behind the front axle for optimum weight distribution. For the first time in a production car, continuously variable, electronically-controlled shock absorbers and self-levelling air struts are used to enhance the Rolls’ legendary “magic carpet ride”.
On the main routes it cruised effortlessly and the only issue was keeping the big beast within the national speed limit. Ruts, potholes and uneven surfaces were swept aside with barely a whimper.
The car also has four-wheel drive and all-wheel steering for manoeuvrability and surefootedness on the bends. The acceleration is stunning and effortless, flinging this, two-and-a-half-tonne machine to 60mph in just over four-and-a-half seconds.
There’s more than 100kg of acoustic damping materials in the doors, roof, between the double-glazed windows, inside the tyres and within nearly all of the car’s structure.
As you’d expect, regardless of any bespoke fittings, the Ghost comes with LED and laser headlights, day and night-time wildlife and pedestrian warning, alertness assistant, a four-camera system with panoramic view, all-round visibility and helicopter view, active cruise control, collision, cross-traffic and lane departure warning, a high-resolution head-up display, wi-fi hotspot, self-park, and a sophisticated navigation system.
There’s even a small button on the centre console which closes the doors electronically, doing away with that awkward stretch.
But one of the cleverest features of all is on the centre caps of each of the four wheels. They don’t rotate – instead they are on bearings so the logo is always the right way up.
It’s that sort of attention to detail that makes a Rolls-Royce such a special car and the latest Ghost is carrying on that century-old tradition.