The Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II Is Quick as a Bullet, Powerful as a Tank: Review
Yesterday it was nine degrees in Wilmington, Vermont.
The rapier air cut my lungs as I inhaled; the tips of my ears screamed in white-cold protest. My toes turned to tiny vanilla ice pops.
And that was just running across the street to get my car.
I didn’t mind any of it, though; I was heading toward a Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II.
The Thrill of Relaxation
I drove the new Series II in Vermont last week to visit the Hermitage Club, a members-only ski lodge about four hours from New York City.
The 563-horsepower V12 performed as you might expect a $250,000-plus sedan would: as quick as a bullet, as powerful as a tank, and, yes, as silent as a Ghost. Ask it to pass that awkward gawker in the A4 or stop on a dime at a roadside Vermont-cheddar-stand whim, et voila! No problem. This car never gets stressed.
On this particular drive, I wound my way through forested hills, accelerated up interstate highways, rolled through sleepy towns shrouded in snow. Other than keeping hawk’s eye on the tip of the rather long front hood and treading carefully across ice-wet bridges, driving required little strain. It weighs nearly three tons—you’d think that would take some sort of effort. Instead, the Ghost simultaneously thrills and relaxes the driver. Driving it has the same effect as sitting in an outdoor hot tub on a freezing cold day.
They Don’t Call It A Rolls For Nothing
The Series II is smaller (18 inches shorter and 500 pounds fewer) than the stately Phantom, which makes it more nimble as a drivers’ car and less of a production to move around. “Less of a production” is a relative term, though. It’s possible to make these cars low(er)-key (tinted windows, disappearing Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, muted tones on the paint and leather interior), but their rectangle, tall vertical-slated grills, sculpted rears, carriage-style doors and double R badging plainly telegraph the superior nature of these automobiles.
If you don’t want people to know you have enough cash for a Rolls, don’t buy a Rolls.
Do buy the Rolls-Royce Ghost, however, if you want the best car smaller than a Phantom and bigger than a Wraith that money can buy. It has an eight-speed transmission so smooth you’ll think it runs without any gears at all; it hits 60mph in 4.9 seconds, which is just as fast as the considerably lighter Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet and Bentley Mulsanne Speed. It can hit 160mph at top speed.
Simple Technology Wins
The Ghost comes with the best technology BMW Group can offer—including things like GPS-based pre-navigation (which lets the car continually adjust to the road), night vision, heads-up displays, crash avoidance and superior rear-side-view cameras. But the best bit about driving the car is how easy all of that is to use. The new Spirit of Ecstasy-emblazoned rotary controller allows easy access to directions, the Internet or music via voice or knob input. It is intuitive to use, and along with other controls, is arranged neatly on the center console and polished walnut (or Palado or Malabar, say) dashboard.
Working the electrics in this car teaches us that while simplicity may be genius, as the saying goes, it is also a sign of true luxury.
Backseat Bespoke Bliss
The back seat is where the real comfort of the car shines through. Two-inch-thick lambswool floor mats, reclining heated seats, a power panoramic sunroof, and individual temperature controls make the whole thing a delightful confinement. The 18-speaker sound system comes with two modes—studio or theatre—to set the correct mood. Each leather chair takes two weeks for the gentlemen in Goodwood, England, to stitch together; they end up firm enough to deliver reassuring support but comfortable enough to allow for long-term lounging.
Also inside you can request bespoke designs to be inlaid in the wood or special motifs stitched into the headrests. You can request extra color tones for anything, or a champagne fridge in the back. You can request bulletproof glass or power window shades or television screens and work stations built to your height and weight.
It’s all thought out so as to allow the passenger complete freedom in whatever she is doing, whether it’s reading, sleeping, listening to music, or bugging the driver to trade places for a bit.
All of which also makes it difficult to accurately estimate the value this car. Numerous Rolls executives have told me time and again that “the sky is the limit” with client requests. Rolls could conceivably bespoke your own model so much that its price approaches $1 million—and indeed, for some lucky owners, it already has.
Stealthy Speed, Unparalleled Ride
Complaints? Only if you get nit-picky. And for that price, shouldn’t we?
For one thing, it’s difficult to get used to using a shifter located, old-style, on the steering-column rather than by your right knee. Sometimes when going to shift into neutral or reverse I would hit the nearby windshield wiper rod instead, setting the wipers off in a flurry of blades and cleaner fluid.
It’s also difficult to keep this car to posted speed limits. More so than possibly any other car I’ve driven excepting possibly the Wraith. The Ghost glides so easily that many times I’d look down to see we were cruising 30mph faster than I had thought. Beware of cops. Better yet, just budget a line item for speeding tickets.
There’s also the matter of the floor mats, which are so lovely and soft it seems a shame to place dirty shoes on them. Getting into and out of the car up in snowy Vermont caused some angst as I saw its accumulation melting onto the car floor. I suppose in a pinch you could commission some made of lesser stuff—or buy a few extra pairs to keep on-hand for refreshers.
So—to what should you compare this handsome carriage? Consider it in the class of the Bentley Flying Spur and Mulsanne Speed, and the all-new Mercedes-Maybach S600. But you’ll soon realize Ghost Series II has a feel all its own. One that, once you experience it, you’ll consider unparalleled.