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2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost: First Drive Review

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost
When the Ghost debuted in 2009, it revived and derived its name from the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost introduced in 1906 and produced through the 1920s. For the 2010 model year, Rolls-Royce created an entirely new Ghost for buyers seeking a slightly smaller, more modest model than the flagship Phantom. That formula worked, and the Ghost became the most successful Rolls-Royce ever during the last 10 years. Now the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost ushers in a new era for this popular model.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost
The next generation 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost continues to pursue the brand’s standards of perfection in design, engineering and craftsmanship, but with a more restrained, subtle design. The most technologically advanced car ever from the luxury marque, Ghost becomes more of a driver’s car, striking a balance for owners who will both drive the car as well as be driven — depending on the occasion.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceNew Ghost Design
Rolls-Royce describes the new Ghost as reflecting a pure and minimalist design aesthetic, interestingly dubbed “Post Opulent” by Rolls-Royce designers. The Pantheon Grille, Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and coach doors immediately identify Ghost as a Rolls-Royce, yet it is beguiling — not as flamboyant as Phantom, brash as Cullinan or mysterious — even sinister — as Wraith. Ghost also continues to exude everything expected from Rolls-Royce with exquisite materials, attention to detail and ultimate refinement.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsLighted Grille
And yet with this focus on purity of design, the front end of the next-gen Ghost displays a larger Pantheon grille — and it is even lighted for more prominence, although the subtle lighting can be dimmed at the owner’s discretion. Twenty LEDs tucked under the grille top illuminate the veins from above, with special attention paid to the materials and finish of the grille to create a soft glow that highlights the iconic Rolls-Royce grille design.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceFront Design
Although the grille is larger, the front-end design is clean and uncluttered, with a lower front fascia that gives the grille a floating appearance. The front edge of the hood slopes down to meet the top of the grille, creating a new position of prominence for the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceGhost Profile
In profile, a single line emphasizes the length of the new Ghost — a lower line borrowed from boat design that uses reflection to lighten the surface and create a sense of motion. The roof has a gentle arch and the window openings for the front and rear doors are nearly equal. At the rear, Ghost adopts a slight boattail design as the flanks taper into nearly square taillights — a hallmark of recent Rolls-Royce designs. Brightwork fully surrounds the side windows.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsNew Architecture
The new Ghost gets built on Rolls-Royce’s aluminum spaceframe architecture, known as the Architecture of Luxury, first used for Phantom and then the Cullinan SUV before becoming the platform for the second-gen Ghost. Adopting the new architecture allowed engineers to place the engine behind the front axle. The new design also adopts all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering and a sophisticated new suspension system.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperiencePlanar Suspension System
To deliver the signature Rolls-Royce “Magic Carpet Ride,” the Ghost’s redesigned suspension — called the Planar Suspension System — features a world-first Upper Wishbone Damper Unit for the front suspension, developed to further improve the continuously variable, electronically controlled shock absorbers. The self-leveling high-volume air strut assemblies combine with what Rolls calls the Flagbearer system, which use cameras to read the road ahead. At the rear, a five-link axle benefits from the same self-leveling high-volume air suspension technology, as well as rear-wheel steering. Both axles are managed by Rolls-Royce Planar software.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsUnder the Hood
The new Ghost is powered by a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine producing 563 horsepower and 627-lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm, delivered to all four wheels through a satellite-aided transmission that uses satellite data to shift to the correct gear for upcoming corners or terrain. The Planar software controls the all-wheel drive, the all-wheel steering, the stability control and a self-drying brake system to ensure that Ghost is adapting to all changes in surface and grip level.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsIlluminated Fascia
An extension of the Starlight Headliner — which has become an iconic feature of recent Rolls-Royce models — the new Ghost features an Illuminated Fascia located on the passenger side of the dashboard, which features a glowing Ghost nameplate surrounded by more than 850 “stars” to create a unique and special signature. The Illuminated Fascia is not simply a screen, but a complex system of 152 LEDs mounted above and beneath the fascia, employing a light guide with 90,000 laser-etched dots on the surface to disperse the LED light while also creating a twinkling effect. The Illuminated Fascia is invisible when not in use — the top layer is sealed with tinted lacquer and polished to match other elements of the interior.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsInterior Luxury
Inside the new-generation Ghost, Rolls-Royce followed the same minimalist approach as the exterior, focusing on the finest materials: leather, wood and metal. The leather hides used for the interior are put through an extensive quality-control process to ensure they are of the highest quality. Rolls-Royce says the interior stitching avoids complex, busy patterns to focus on long, perfectly straight lines.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsWood and Metal Trim
The new Rolls-Royce Ghost offers open-pore wood that displays the material in its natural state. Two new finishes are offered: Obsidian Ayous and Dark Amber. Obsidian Ayous is inspired by colors found in lava rock, and Dark Amber integrates veins of fine aluminum into the dark wood. As with the leather, the wood is applied in long single-veneer sections.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsTechnologically Advanced
As the latest Rolls-Royce model, this new Ghost is the most technologically advanced car ever from the luxury marque. The combination LED and laser headlights have nearly 2000 feet of illuminated range. Other advanced features include vision assist with wildlife and pedestrian warning; alertness assistant; as well as a four-camera system with panoramic view, all-around visibility and helicopter view. Mainstream features include active cruise control; collision warning; cross-traffic warning; lane departure and lane change warning; a Wi-Fi hotspot; self park; and the latest navigation and entertainment systems.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsElectric Doors
Previous Rolls-Royces have offered self-closing doors, and the new Ghost now features power-assistance doors as well. The occupant must first pull the interior door handle, then release it to its original position. When the handle is pulled a second time, the door begins to open and continues moving until the handle is released or the door opens completely. Once the person has stepped out of the vehicle, the door can by closed automatically by the push of a button on the exterior door handle. The door can also be closed manually, with power assist; sensors in the doors ensure they operate at the same rate of speed regardless of pavement slope.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsAcoustics
Rolls-Royce acoustic engineers labored to create a serene interior environment for the new Ghost, based on the spaceframe architecture, aluminum construction and extensive use of acoustic sound dampening materials. The engineers focused on interior noise as well as the Ghost’s audio system.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsSerenity Experts
Rolls-Royce claims its acoustic engineers are experts in serenity. That expertise was formalized for this Ghost; the marque’s specialists created a “Formula for Serenity” that will help inform future products. Analyzing every component of the new Ghost that could contribute to interior noise, engineers experimented with a completely silent interior, but found the experience disorienting. Their solution was to create a “whisper” — a single, soft undertone both relaxing and comforting to occupants.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsBespoke Audio
When designing the total serenity experience for occupants of the new Ghost, Rolls-Royce acoustic engineers also devised a sound stage for audio engineers, who were able to create a sound system built into the car itself. These experts collaborated to incorporate a resonance chamber in the body’s sill sections, essentially transforming the Ghost body into a subwoofer.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsSpeaking of Speakers
The 1300-watt sound system utilizes state-of-the-art technology and high-precision magnesium-ceramic compound speaker cones to allow minute changes in sound with excellent frequency response. Exciter speakers — as well as more conventional cone-type speakers — effectively change the Ghost’s Starlight Headliner into one large speaker.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost
Rolls-Royce offered us the opportunity to drive a Ghost finished in Iguazu Blue — a beautiful dark metallic finish. The Navy Blue interior features contrasting Charles Blue accents, as well as Charles Blue piping and stitching. Open Pore Circassian Walnut veneers in a medium brown satin finish appear on the dash, door panels, steering wheel and center console to complement the blue leather.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceBespoke Luxury
Nearly all Rolls-Royce Ghosts will be commissioned — tailored to owner-designated specifications with virtually no limit to the level of personalization. While the starting price of Ghost is $332,500, our test car was fitted with options including Effortless Doors, Individual Rear Seat Configuration with a fixed center console, Comfort Entry System, Ventilated Seats, Massage Seats, Rear Theatre configuration and many other details for a total price with options of $428,125.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsExtremely Quiet
As mentioned above, Rolls-Royce engineers created a car so quiet they had to incorporate a whisper of sound for a better experience. While underway occupants cannot detect wind noise, road noise, tire noise or other external sounds. What can be discerned is a subtle sound of movement. After several hours driving the Ghost, our serene surroundings became so familiar all awareness of exterior sounds vanished. A quick lowering of the driver window brought back the noise of the world. The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost truly comforts occupants with its soft, smooth silence.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsSmooth and Powerful
The driving experience of the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost can be characterized by a combination of smoothness and power. The Ghost is no sport sedan — there are no Sport buttons or paddle shifters — but at any speed, a squeeze of the accelerator summons a wave of power that propels Ghost forward. Both the abundant power and smooth ride are supported by some cutting-edge technologies. The satellite-aided transmission keeps the transmission in the best gear for upcoming terrain, while the Flagbearer cameras read the road ahead to adjust the Planar Suspension for conditions to come.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsLuxury Limousine
The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost is a car that owners will want to drive, but there will be times when the rear seats become a mobile office or the perfect start to a luxurious, stress-free night out. Rolls-Royce offers all amenities to create a personalized experience — individual heated / ventilated massage seats, picnic tables, a theater system and the entire spectrum of luxury accoutrements. The quiet interior and smooth ride are even more enjoyable from the comfort of the rear seats.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsRight for You?
The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost is designed to be, less flamboyant than other models, with a modern, minimalist design that retains all the luxury, refinement and engineering expertise that are the hallmarks of Rolls-Royce. The quietly smooth power creates a luxurious experience that is equally comfortable from the driver’s seat as it is from the rear seat. For successful individuals in a position to experience this level of luxury, the new Ghost is the modern expression of Rolls-Royce excellence.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9.0
Pros: Extravagant luxury; quietly smooth; exquisite attention to detail.
Cons: Expensive; only for a select few.
Bottom Line: With the luxury, refinement and technology expected from Rolls-Royce, the 2021 Ghost possesses a modern, more restrained demeanor.

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Published on: October 1, 2020

Filled Under: Automotive Content Experience, Automotive Reviews

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