There are few automobiles manufactured with more panache, style, and dare I say grace, than the Rolls-Royce.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom may be the king of the brand. That said, the Wraith is a grand touring car, the Dawn is sexy and the Cullinan SUV, which I unabashedly adore, is luxe sport personified. However, the all new, redesigned 2021 Ghost is truly a driver’s car. After driving one for several hours recently in Austin, Texas, I can assure you that the Ghost is one that you will want to drive daily. And by that I mean every single day of your life.
It may be difficult for some to imagine a vehicle with an ‘on the road price’ of $332,500 plus options as a daily drive. However, if you or your accountant can swing it, this is truly the best daily drive for the most discerning of car afficionados.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost first made its debut in 2009. With the 2021 model, the Ghost’s name may be the same, but it has undergone a complete overhaul. Indeed, the only items that remain the same are the door umbrellas and the signature Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornaments. And even the Spirit of Ecstasy underwent a bit of a shift in that on the Ghost it’s now resting elegantly on the bonnet – hood for us Yankees – instead of perched on the chrome grill.
The Ghost has always been central to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars since it’s the brand’s most successful automobile. So while the engineers and designers went to town to modernize and boost the Ghost, the 2021 Ghost is part of the “architecture of luxury” platform that it shares with the Phantom and the Cullinan.
In search of restraint and simplicity, “The Ghost is Roll-Royce in its purist form,” says the company’s Chief Executive Officer Torsten Müller-Ötvös. It is a “post-opulent” car and its elegance is based on its minimalist simplicity wholly supported by Rolls-Royce substance.
This recalibration of the classic Ghost was made because the tastes of Rolls-Royce owners have changed over the years. They are not, as in times past, looking to reflect ostentatiousness but still want what Rolls-Royce so deftly delivers.
There will be no Grey Poupon mustard jars being passed between two Ghost owners as Madison Avenue depicted with the Phantoms back in 1981. Instead, many Rolls-Royce owners are now seeking a calming, restrained, cerebral space. With the Ghost’s rebirth Rolls-Royce has certainly achieved just that, not to mention projecting mammoth uber-cool sensations and sensibilities with clean, minimalist, reductionist lines.
As the Ghost’s lead designer Henry Cloke said, “The post-opulent promise was to take the same Rolls-Royce magic carpet ride to the Ghost’s details.” This was a promise taken to heart and thoroughly kept.
For these test drives, I was both chauffeured and then drove on my own for several hours. Naturally while being chauffeured and seated in the rear, the very first thing I did was take my shoes off. Because who doesn’t want to luxuriate in luscious, smooth-as-silk lambswool? Seated as a passenger in the rear I also fell deeply, resolutely in love with the flip tables reminiscent of first-class flight travel but boasting gorgeous, crystal clear computer consoles. Though frankly airlines and their passengers would die a thousand deaths to have such sophisticated accoutrements at 30,000 feet.
I drove on a wide variety of surfaces in Austin: highways, surface streets, country roads as well as back roads desperately needing new surfaces. I passed skyscrapers, condominiums, homes, strip malls, shopping centers, enormous ranches akin to Southfork, and of course, multi-million-dollar estates on the banks of Lake Austin.
The Ghost has both electric opening and closing of its doors. This is like having your very own valet. Except of course without having to have a valet.
When the Ghost’s ignition is turned on the fascia illuminates. This is no mere graphic image. As a starlight effect was desired, 90,000 etchings were made in six glass panels. Then a veneer was placed followed by 850 lights. All of this surrounds the Ghost mark. When the Ghost is turned off, the panel simply appears black. This is pretty snazzy stuff.
Like other Rolls-Royce cars, this one is seriously quiet. Road noise is thoroughly absorbed as is ambient noise by an HVAC system that is lined with felt. This way, when the dude with the blaring, ear-splitting boom box pulls up alongside you – and you know he most certainly will – he and his blaring, potentially offensive tunes are in effect muted. Even the air vent eyeballs are polished to reduce noise.
The V12 powered Ghost has a 6.8-liter unit with 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque under its undeniably gorgeous hood. As a result, it is no surprise at all that this 5,628-pound beauty sails seamlessly from zero to 60 miles-per-hour in a mere 4.5 seconds.
The Ghost’s suspension has an upper wishbone damper. It is noteworthy in that it’s actually a damper for the damper. As a result, the ride is incredibly smooth. More than once, I intentionally went over lane dividing bumps on deserted back roads to get a sense of just how smoothly the Ghost performed. I certainly was not disappointed.
The all-wheel drive was incredibly sharp and reactive. For me this delivered a profound joy in driving the 2021 Ghost. Besides, how can one not truly, emphatically and for all eternity not deeply love an automobile that has a temperature-controlled space for champagne at 51.8 degrees Fahrenheit and houses glasses to boot?
To say that the luxury of Rolls-Royce for which it is famous has evolved with the new Ghost, would indeed be a vast understatement. If you are interested in a blissfully detoxing, smooth ride that will provide peace and quiet time while driving to ponder your next M&A, corporate acquisition, patent or tech start-up, then Rolls-Royce’s reimagined 2021 Ghost is for you. Whether you drive or get driven in the Ghost, you will be as pleased as punch. Or rather as cheerful, content and convivial as that chilled champagne will no doubt make you.