Rolls-Royce Ghost: Improved & Extended
The new Rolls-Royce Ghost and Ghost Extended are proof that in enlightened automotive manufacturing, the body and soul of the machine is sublimely intertwined. By Jonathan Ho.
Emblematic of spearheading an era of post-opulence, the first Goodwood Ghost was a response to a whole new generation of clients, both in age and attitude. The Ghost is a slightly smaller, less ostentatious Rolls-Royce with the full flavour and provenance of the legacy and luxury that has exemplified the brand since it was founded in 1904.
The most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet, the new Ghost reflects a minimalist philosophy that rejects superficial expressions of wealth, underpinning our conversation with Alex Innes, the brand’s Head of Bespoke.
“With a Rolls-Royce, there’s always this sense of etiquette and a feel for having just the right gesture at the right moment, that it’s perceptive to the situation, whether it’s the careful offering of an umbrella from the door as soon as it starts to rain or the fact the coach doors open to the rear to ensure that you can access and egress the car in the most elegant fashion. There is this subtle sense of what’s right. These details extend to people’s perception.”
As a quintessentially British brand, there’s a civility that permeates every fibre of Rolls-Royce’s rigid aluminium spaceframe architecture. Over its 10-year lifespan, the Ghost has become the most successful model in the marque’s history for good reason.
By listening carefully to its discerning clientele, the Goodwood carmaker set new benchmarks in customer centricity by creating a completely new motor car. Sublimely engineered, hugely charismatic, the new Ghost pushes technological boundaries that appear more the purview of the makers of performance sports cars rather than stately sedans for captains of industry.
Beneath the surface, significant advances were made with the marque’s proprietary spaceframe. A revolutionary development first used on Phantom, then Cullinan, it’s unique to Rolls-Royce and enables the brand’s designers and engineers to develop an authentically super-luxury product, free from the constraints of traditional platforms used to underpin high-volume vehicles.
Rolls-Royce’s Luxury Intelligence Specialists revealed that highly successful, diverse and globalised entrepreneurs and founders spoke of their needs for a vehicle that could be as integrated into their lives as their connected technology. They yearned for a drive that could perform the dual role of day-to-day business and a weekend drive. In other words, a super-luxury saloon that was simultaneously dynamic, serenely comfortable and minimalist.
These were profound learnings. As Ghost clients required even more of their motor car, Rolls-Royce incorporated technology such as all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering, unlocking an entirely new, purposeful personality. Clients soon came to realise that Rolls-Royce could offer more than a chauffeur-driven experience.
Downplaying the Parthenon-esque grille of the Phantom sedan and shifting to nimbler proportions, the Ghost embodies sensuous curves, departing from the high, crisply formal roof and shoulder lines of its brethren, instead opting for billet-smooth body panels and a tapered silhouette.
According to Innes, ‘Post Opulence’ is characterised by reduction and substance. In service to this, the Ghost features exceptional, curated materials and a simpler yet uncompromising aesthetic where design is purposefully limited, intelligent and unobtrusive. What results is a new Ghost. An automobile so precisely tailored to its clients that it appears perfect in its simplicity, belying its remarkable substance.
The interior cabin echoes her exterior, with a clean, almost uninterrupted dashboard and a generous dose of natural wood panelling plus, depending on your choice of bespoke material, some esoteric finishing. A glowing Ghost nameplate on the passenger side uses over 150 LED lights, while 90,000 laser-etched dots disperse some gentle, almost mesmerising ambient lighting.
‘Bespoke’ is not just a buzzword at Goodwood; it applies to the audio system as well. Highly engineered aesthetics incorporate a resonance chamber into the body’s sills, effectively turning the car into a giant sub-woofer.
A home away from home, 18 channels provide 1300W output, channelled through magnesium ceramic speaker cones where active microphones detect frequency imbalances that the amplifier automatically compensates for. CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös calls it “the best way to get through heavy traffic” and we agree.
Presciently and of utmost importance to Rolls-Royce since 2015, a Micro-Environment Purification System with ultra-sensitive impurity sensors detect airborne contaminants, protecting clients from harmful carbon and pollen particles, as well as contaminants.
One might tolerate the day-to-day reality of traffic, but Covid-19 isn’t really the kind of thing that can be ‘tolerated’. Detecting a threat, the MEPS has a Recirculation Mode that channels all cabin air through a Nanofleece filter capable of removing nearly all ultra-fine particles from the Ghost’s environment in less than two minutes.
It’s very much a driver’s Rolls-Royce. The modular aluminium chassis, with its bulkhead, floor and crossmembers, has been repositioned. Augmented by the world’s first Planar suspension system, the Ghost enjoys significantly improved agility and comfort. One doesn’t so much drive a Ghost as pilot it.
Equipped with the hallmark 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 engine, delivering 571PS and 850nm, it’s not so much the power and impeccable handling but a holistic concept that Rolls-Royce dubs ‘Formula for Serenity’.
Utilising 100kg of sound-deadening material and know-how, Goodwood’s acoustic engineers identified hidden inputs and examined every component to create a near-silent soundstage. The trick of sound-staging is that anything would be an annoyance in a zero-sound environment. What the new Ghost demonstrates is a suppressed buzz and a ‘cultured’ roar when the twin-turbo power plants kick up a notch.
The new Ghost is perfect in its simplicity, but created with maximum adaptability, a creature in harmony with the needs and multi-hyphenate portfolios of its high-achieving owners and perfectly in tune with thetimes.
– The original article appeared on Luxuo.com and in Yacht Style Issue 57
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