Rolls-Royce, as a brand, is going through a bit of a change. In addition to new cars, the famous British luxury brand has even updated its logo and “brand identity”. As cringy as a lot of that sounds, I actually get it. Rolls-Royce’s clientele base is actually getting younger and younger, with an average age in the early forties. So the century-old luxury brand needs to update both its image and its cars to a more modern era. The first car to get that younger treatment is this — the all-new Rolls-Royce Ghost.
The previous-generation Ghost was designed due to a demand from Rolls-Royce customers for something more subtle, something less ostentatious and something a bit easier to use everyday. The last-gen Ghost was designed for customers that wanted to actually drive their car most days and if they wanted a chauffeur, it was still appropriate. For this new generation, Rolls-Royce again listened to its customers and decided to given them something all-new, with a greater focus on dynamics, style and comfort.
This new Rolls-Royce Ghost is built on the brand’s new all-aluminum architecture, the same scalable architecture that underpins both the Phantom and Cullinan. Which means the Ghost is no longer built on the old 7 Series platform, so the jokes about it being a gussied up 7 Series should finally die. This new chassis is more structurally rigid than before, while also providing better balance, comfort and acoustic insulation than before.
The V12 Lives On
In addition to that new architecture, the Ghost also gets a bespoke Rolls-Royce engine, no longer using a BMW-sourced one. So it gets the same 6.75 liter twin-turbocharged V12 as the Phantom and Cullinan, which develops 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. Interestingly, that hulking engine is mounted entirely behind the front axle, as Rolls-Royce has pushed its aluminum suspension subframe mounts as far forward as possible. This was done to give the Ghost as close to a 50/50 weight distribution as possible.
That’s not something you typically hear Rolls-Royce caring about, as that sort of balance is typically done for sharper handling. However, Rolls-Royce is adamant that its customers want something a bit more engaging to drive, with this new Ghost.
While this new Ghost will be the cheapest Rolls-Royce, and the one purchased by its youngest clientele, it’s built to the same high standard as every other Roller. In fact, it might actually be better, as the brand is using newer techniques on the Ghost than on the Phantom.
For instance, the all-aluminum body is made to look like one continuous flowing piece of metal, with as few panel gaps as possible. So from the A-pillar, through the roof, into the C-pillar and most of the rear end is all one piece, hand-welded by four craftsmen.
All four doors are made entirely from aluminum as well and are laser-welded, which gives them a remarkable 40,000Nm/deg stiffness. Also, being made from aluminum versus steel allows them to improve cabin noise, thanks to its lower “acoustic impedance”.
We’re used to hearing about the craftsmanship, luxuriousness and quietness of Rollers but what we’re not used to hearing about from a Rolls-Royce press release is handling. The new Rolls-Royce Ghost gets new Upper Wishbone Damper Units, which is part of the brand’s new “Planar Suspension System”.
Rolls-Royce has been working on this for ten years, so as to develop the best riding car the world has ever seen. The Ghost is the first Roller to get the new suspension and it’s supposed to improve not only comfort but also stability.
A Brand-New Suspension
This new “Planar” suspension also works in tandem with the brand’s “Flagbearer” suspension system, which uses the front camera to scan the road ahead and pre-load the suspension for what’s about to come. This allows the suspension to be ready for a road imperfection ahead of time, rather than reacting to it in real time, thus ironing out bumps before then even happen.
The Flagbearer setup (named after flagbearers that would walk ahead of early motor cars) has been available on Rollers before, with the Phantom and Cullinan both having the system but this is the first time it’s working in tandem with the Planar system.
Interestingly, the new Rolls-Royce Ghost also gets all-wheel drive, for the first time in a Rolls-Royce car. The Cullinan is all-wheel drive but it’s an SUV. This is the first sedan or coupe from Rolls-Royce to power all four wheels. Additionally, it’s also the first Rolls Royce car to use all-wheel steering which is, again, an interesting choice on a Roller.
Typically, just a mention of the words “handling” or “sportiness” when describing a Rolls got you locked away in the Tower of London. Now, though, the brand seems to be embracing a more agile nature. Maybe it really is changing.
Make no mistake, though, luxury is still the absolute number one goal. In fact, Chauffeurs are still thought of in the car’s development. For instance, the new Ghost is the first Rolls-Royce to have automatic, power-open doors. For ages, you could close a Rolls-Royce door with the push of a button.
Now, you can open them with a long-hold of the handle. Even closing the doors manually is power assisted. Rolls-Royce even takes it one step further by using an array of sensors to ensure that the door’s open and close speed stays exactly the same, even if the car is on a hill in either direction. Pesky gravity is no match for the might of Rolls-Royce.
One of the most important aspects of the Ghost was its sound insulation. Rolls-Royce wanted to make the Ghost the most quiet and serene cabin in the world and it actually achieved it. In fact, Rolls made the cabin of the Ghost so quiet that it was actually unsettling for customers, like those silence chambers that you can hear your own heartbeat in and start to go mad. So the engineers in Goodwood actually had to add some noise back in, a noise the brand calls the “whisper”, because of course it does.
The idea is that passengers get a soft, subtle, barely perceptible, single note of noise. To do this, and get the cabin to emit nothing but one single note of noise, Rolls-Royce engineers worked tirelessly, inspecting literally every single piece of the car to see what sort of resonant frequency it emitted. If the levels of sound or frequency were unacceptable, they were changed.
For instance, the air condition air ducts were creating unacceptable levels of noise, so they were taken out and polished on the inside, fixing the problem. The prop shaft was creating an unwanted frequency, so it was replaced with a thicker, sturdier one that worked better.
The seat frames in early prototypes created an unwanted frequency, so they were changed. Even the trunk made some unwanted frequencies at high speed, so ports were built under the rear parcel shelf which let the disruptive sound waves from the trunk escape and dissipate.
While the attention to detail hasn’t changed, the exterior design of the car has. More so than what we usually see from Rolls-Royce. Admittedly, radical design change from Rolls is glacial by the standards of any other brand. Still, the new Ghost is the most radically changed new Rolls-Royce thus far.
Its new headlights feature a sort of outward-facing “L” shape in them and the front air intake is, dare I say, sporty looking? The grille is much shorter than what you’ll find on a Phantom and, get this, it’s also illuminated. Behind the grille, there are twenty LED lights that shine on the back on the grille veins, giving them a subtle glow.
Interestingly, early prototypes proved that the illumination was too bright, due to the highly reflective nature of the polished grille veins. So Rolls actually gave the back of the veins a brushed finished, which is far less reflective and gave the design team the desired effect.
Lights play a big part of the interior as well. The passenger side of the dashboard trim now has the word “Ghost” illuminated in it. There are 152 LEDs above and beneath the dash fascia that match the car’s clock and instrument light color. To ensure that the word “Ghost” is perfectly evenly lit, 90,000 laser-etched dots create a 2mm-thick light guide.
This not only gives it completely uniform lighting but also creates a twinkling effect as you run your eyes across it. The amount of work it took Rolls-Royce engineers to achieve such an effect is the same amount time it takes some automakers to develop an engine. While the lights are off, the entire effect is completely invisible.
Rolls-Royce has gone to simply incredible lengths to make the new Ghost the best possible car it can be. The brand listened to its customers and it seems to have delivered on their demands. Interestingly, when you look at the innovation in this new Ghost, regardless of the fact that it’s not the brand’s most luxurious vehicle, it may supplant the Phantom as being considered the best car in the world.