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The Proverbial Magic Carpet Ride

Resident Contributor Andre Lam Samples The Second Generation Rolls-Royce Ghost.

Not many marques can boast of a model that has roots that are well over a century old (the 1906 Silver Ghost). Admittedly it took over a century and a change of ownership to resurrect that nameplate again in 2009 but with BMW at the helm, Rolls-Royce decided to give the Phantom a companion, a number two called the Ghost.  

The 2009 Rolls-Royce Ghost began with a twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 producing 570 hp and was later revised and presented as the Ghost Series 2 with a facelift and better features in 2014. The strategy of a companion model was by all accounts, a brilliant marketing plan. It not only served to be an introductory model but it was also recognised as a standalone model that its owner could drive, unlike the Phantom which is mostly chauffeur-driven. 

First introduced at the end of 2020, the all-new, second-generation Ghost is the latest to use the "Architecture of Luxury" (A.O.L) aluminium space-frame chassis that also underpins both the Phantom and Cullinan SUV. Thanks to the flexibility of this platform, the entire model range of Rolls-Royce can be based on a single engineering platform rather than have separate platforms to accommodate each of Rolls-Royce's current models. 

It might be a little surprising to discover that with this platform, the Extended Wheelbase Ghost gets to within one percent the length of the Phantom. Nothing happens by accident at Rolls-Royce so we must assume that making this "junior" Rolls-Royce this big was done on purpose. This makes for a cavernous cabin that provides generous accommodation and impeccable luxury for its occupants. Every combination of top quality finish is possible and one can personalise your one-of-a-kind Ghost through the Rolls-Royce Bespoke program. 

Being in the luxury game this long (116 years) one would think that the Rolls-Royce engineers would have already cornered the market with the most silent and comfortable interior but not one to leave well enough alone, they have surprised us and introduced yet another technical development in the relentless search for the proverbial magic carpet ride. 

Called the Planar suspension system, it is designed as another set of arms that rests on the upper suspension wishbone through what looks like bushings. This then acts as a dampener to any audible vibrations, similar to when one places a finger on the tine of a struck tuning fork. This attenuates the transmission of the road impacts to the body of the car, reducing transferred noise and harshness further.  

While the Planar system takes care of the high-frequency issues, the low-frequency spectrum that makes up the ride comfort is handled by the Flagbearer system, a complex piece of tech that scans the road ahead for imperfections and quickly adjusts the suspension to absorb the impending undulations. Achieving the proverbial magic carpet ride is no empty boast as this Ghost is most certainly the best riding limousine I have ever driven or indeed have been a passenger in. 

Having a soft suspension to control a huge behemoth is a recipe for ungainly handling or is it? Is it possible to combine great comfort and good handling? This is accomplished with the help of a couple of pieces of tech. The first device is their rear-wheel drive system which helps mitigate the inevitable unwieldiness that comes with a car this size and weight. This mechanism helps long cars, in particular, to attain the agility and turning capability of a much shorter car and yet provide superb stability at higher speeds. 

To control body lean in such a tall and heavy limousine on soft springs would normally require massively stiff anti-roll bars but that comes with a huge penalty in ride quality on single wheel bumps. To counter this without any penalty is the active anti-roll system. It only stiffens up to counter roll when the system detects the turn-in and is completely disengaged when just going straight ahead, removing the inevitable harshness had the roll bar been solidly connecting left and right wheels all the time.

Admittedly the idea of hustling this behemoth through a series of bends on a narrow road is not something one would relish doing. This was certainly true of the older Rolls-Royces but the corollary of the rear-steer and anti-roll systems is this huge car is not the handful one would imagine. Sure it is rather wide but the systems work beautifully allowing surprisingly nimble and confident progress, though it is clear its greatest talents lie elsewhere. 

Typically Rolls-Royce does not brag about their engines except for their remarkable refinement. Its 6.75-litre V12 twin-turbo engine now boasts 571 hp, a single hp increase since 2009. What has increased is engine torque output which rises from 780 Nm to 850 Nm. Rolls-Royce's reasoning is there is no need to be quicker than 4.8 seconds to sprint to 100 km/h and for wafting it is not about how fast but how effortless and refined it is. 

The new Ghost scores high marks in comfort, refinement and luxury but I feel its greatest achievement is its new styling. One really needs to see it in the flesh to appreciate just how well proportioned it is as photos really do not do it justice. Despite the obvious ostentation, the design shows a sense of restraint, just enough to maintain good taste and desirability. Admittedly the Rolls-Royce Ghost has had this corner of the marketplace all to itself but not to be complacent, the new Ghost resets the bar and looks set to hold the fort for another decade. 

 Rolls-Royce Ghost

  • - Engine: 6.75-litre Petrol Injection V12, twin-turbo
  • - Max Power: 571 hp at 5000 rpm
  • - Max Torque: 850 Nm at 1600 rpm
  • - Transmission Eight-Speed Automatic with GPS guidance
  • - 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds
  • - Top Speed 250km/h (electronically governed)
  • - Fuel Consumption 15.3-15.7L/100km
  • Story: Andre Lam
  • Visuals: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars