The term “luxury car” probably hasn’t ever been more muddled than it is today. Between B-listers like Buick’s Verano and Acura’s spin on the Civic, the notion of luxury automobiles is losing credibility like cupped hands holding water.
|Engine: 6.6L Twin-Turbo V12 makes 563 hp, 575 lb-ft of torque Transmission: eight-speed automatic Fuel economy: 13 MPG city, 20 MPG highway Price: Starting at $291,350 or $369,000 as tested.|
At least that’s true in most cases, because there are still companies like Rolls-Royce that build truly upper crust cars and as you can probably guess, this is one of them.
The Ghost Series II serves as a mid-cycle follow-up to the Ghost, the nameplate that accounts for most of Rolls-Royce’s scotch and cigar budget. Of course, there still aren’t very many of them floating around. For example, BMW’s ultra luxury brand expects to set a new record this year by selling 4,000 cars.
Exclusivity Above All Else
And that’s part of what makes them so special. If you’ve ever been passed be a Ghost or – scrunch your toes – a Phantom, you probably wondered who was riding in the back seat. After all, it’s rare that you would spot a pauper like me in there.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
Curiously, the company says that quite a few Ghost owners actually choose to drive themselves rather than hiring a chauffeur. It seems as if the prospect of driving something with a twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 is exciting to people from all walks of life. With that in mind, I spent less time “appreciating” the second row than I otherwise might have in favor of actually driving.
But first, let me tell you about the interior because it isn’t often that I get to sit in a car that starts at $291,350 including delivery and a gas guzzler tax. Don’t pay too much attention to that number because counting the starting MSRP for a Ghost is like saying a trip to Six Flags doesn’t cost more than the price of admission. Only in this case you can swap popcorn, funnel cake and balloon animals for 21-inch wheels that cost $10,140, options packages that run about $54K or even a gold Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament conceived in Goodwood specifically to make Bentley Continental owners cry.
The wood panels would seem equally at home in the cabin or on a schooner and the (optional) full grain leather is ridiculously rich not to mention the lamb’s wool floor carpets. To summarize, this is what other luxury cars wish they could feel like. It’s that good.
But enough of that because as I wrote earlier, there is a beastly engine sitting just before the firewall and it deserves, nay begs to be driven.
Rolls-Royce didn’t really change the engine for its mid-cycle refresh and that means there’s still a twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 pumping away to make 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque that can power to 60 MPH in only 4.8 seconds and to a maximum 155 MPH.
But that doesn’t mean the powertrain is unchanged because the new car comes with the same “Satellite-Aided Transmission” (SAT) that debuted on this car’s two-door sibling: the Wraith.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Rolls Royce Wraith Review
The SAT uses GPS positioning to determine which of its eight gears are the most appropriate. While most of the high-end automotive market moves to dual-clutch transmissions for improved performance, Rolls-Royce is focusing on offering imperceptible shifts… and they delivered. All you feel after pressing the gas pedal is liquid-smooth acceleration.
No wind noise, no chassis rattling, nothing. It’s almost like being in a padded room, only this is one compartment you would sit in voluntarily.
Weighing in at 5,445 lbs. for the short wheelbase or 5,556 for the longer version, the fact that this thing can launch forward with purpose at all is impressive. According to the company, it can hit 60 MPH in 4.8 seconds.
Oh, the Suspens[ion]
Body roll wouldn’t come as much of a surprise with weight like that, but Rolls is also offering a new dynamic suspension that it claims will combat the car’s tendency to tip and lean while turning.
New front and rear struts supposedly contribute to that along with revised steering for a more direct feeling of connection to the road. I never drove the previous Ghost, so I’ll have to take their word on it, but I can tell you that it’s remarkable how well the car can maneuver given its size and girth.
The steering is also supposedly revised for this model for a closer feeling of connection between the driver and tarmac. That also includes a thicker steering wheel although that isn’t saying much because it’s still very skinny.
I sincerely doubt this matters to anyone at all, but average fuel economy is supposed to be 13 MPG in the city or up to 20 at highway speeds.
Take. My. Money.
But enough about that because – lets be honest – my opinion about the new Ghost or anything of its ilk amounts to nothing if you’re serious about buying one. Instead, let me leave you with a quick window into what the ordering process is like.
You can actually walk into a Rolls-Royce showroom and buy one on the spot. It’s possible, but there aren’t many people who do it that way. According to the company, 82 percent of its customers order bespoke cars. If you are fortunate enough to be in that position, there will be a small mountain of leather and wood to choose from, but it doesn’t stop there.
If you’re inclined, the guys in Goodwood will craft an interior out of damn near anything for you. Finally, there’s always the ultimate pilgrimage: going out to the company’s headquarters to take a plant tour and specify your exacting preferences in person.
The Ghost Series II isn’t much of a stylistic departure from the pre-refresh model, but it is measurably improved and still undeniably exclusive. If you can afford to buy one, I only ask two things: that you do so and that you give me a lift sometime.