Rolls-Royce Ghost II

Debut: 2020
Maker: Rolls-Royce
Predecessor: Ghost I (2009)

 Published on 1 Apr 2021 All rights reserved. 

Rolls-Royce calls this design theme "Post Opulence". I would call it "restrained flamboyance".

More than 10 years have gone since the launch of Ghost as the entry-level ("baby") RR. The last Ghost was known to be the most popular model in the company's history. The second generation car does not want to deviate from its principles. It is still the entry-level Roller, with price starting at around £250,000 at its home market, a third cheaper than the flagship Phantom. While the Phantom is all about flamboyance, OTT and customization, the Ghost sells for simplicity and purity. This can be reflected from its exterior design, which is unusually free of crease lines and panel gaps. In particular, the side of the car is a single piece of uncluttered, slightly curved surface, with just a single edge running at its very top end, linking neatly between the headlights and taillights. The retractable Flying Lady statue is now mounted at a hole through the bonnet instead of on the radiator grille, so that it emphasizes the precision of assembly. The general body shape is unchanged from the old car, but the design elements at the front just get even squarer, no matter the waterfall grille, the headlights or the bumper intake. Rolls-Royce calls this design theme "Post Opulence". I would call it "restrained flamboyance".

Underneath lies a big departure from the old car though. Its chassis is no longer a steel structure derived from BMW 7-Series, but an all-aluminum spaceframe and body shell built on the platform of Phantom and Cullinan SUV. In addition to the upcoming replacement for Wraith and Corniche, all Rolls-Royce models will be built on the same exclusive platform. At 40,000 Nm/degree, its torsional rigidity is at the very top of the game (matching the 2003 Phantom), giving it a strong foundation for NVH suppression. Noise is cut further by using double-skin bulkhead and floor, with insulating material filled in between, by employing double glazing windows and more than 100kg of sound deadening materials throughout the cabin. Moreover, RR carefully tuned the frequency of the remaining noises to be in harmony. It is expected to set new industrial standards on cabin quietness.

More than 100kg of sound deadening materials are used throughout the cabin.

The new car is 5546mm long and 1978mm wide, exceeding its predecessor by 89mm and 30mm, respectively. It is therefore significantly larger than a Mercedes S-class, even Bentley Flying Spur. However, it is the car's extra height, 88mm taller than the Bentley, and its very high waist line that delivers a jumbo-size perception.

This is reflected also on scale, too. At 2490 kg, it is 130kg heavier than its predecessor and 150kg more than the Flying Spur. Nevertheless, the weight is 50:50 distributed between front and rear axle, thanks to moving the front axle forward.

The engine is almost the same unit as that serving the Phantom. Now a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 (moan the recent demise of the true 6.75-liter Crewe V8), it produces the same 571hp as the Phantom as well as its predecessor, but maximum torque bridges between them at 627 lbft, available from merely 1600 rpm. Transmission is again the famous ZF 8-speed automatic, and it continues to hook up with GPS so that it could pre-select the next gear for upcoming corners. What’s new is the fitment of 4-wheel drive as standard, taken from Cullinan, so that it can improve 0-60 mph sprint slightly to 4.6 seconds, even though a Flying Spur W12 is way quicker at 3.4 ticks. Likewise, the Rolls is limited to 155 mph, while the Bentley flats out at an astonishing 207 mph. The Rolls just rolls. The Flying Spur flies.

The Rolls just rolls. The Flying Spur flies.

The suspension is similar to those of Phantom and Cullinan as well, with double-wishbone serving up front and 5-link setup at the rear, completed with continuous adaptive dampers and height-adjustable adaptive air springs. It also comes with the flagship model's magic carpet ride system, which uses a 3D camera at the windscreen to scan the road surfaces ahead, adjusting the suspension in advance. However, in the attempt to take ride comfort to a new height, the Ghost introduces the world's first upper wishbone dampers at the front suspension. It adds an extra damper above the front suspension assembly.

As before, you can opt for an active anti-roll bar for the rear axle, but this is an old design powered by 12V electrical system, so it won’t be as powerful as the 48V system used on Bentley, Porsche or Audi. Comparatively, the new 4-wheel steering system should be more effective to make the big car feeling more agile than its size suggested, especially turning in tighter spaces.

Inside, the Rolls-Royce is high on material quality and craftsmanship, of course, but compared with the Phantom it is rather simple and uncluttered. Maybe even a little understated. The most interesting new feature is the starlight fascia located ahead of the front passenger seat. It incorporates 90,000 tiny laser-drilled holes to illuminate LED lighting, welcome you by flashing like galaxy when you enter the cabin, and disappears out of sight afterwards. Retrained Flamboyance, again.

If luxury means showing off your superior (seating) position, then it has plenty.

On the Road

From the moment you open the solid front door, step across the low sill and sit on the high-set and upright driver seat, the experience is so special yet so familiar to the customers of Rolls-Royce. Ditto the rear seat, the most likely place its owners will spend time. You open the rear hinged door, which is still unique to the brand, put your body gracefully onto the deep-set chair. The view around is commanding – not in terms of visibility, because the A, B and C-pillars are all very thick, but you sit as high as a proper SUV, looking down to the road and other cars. If luxury means showing off your superior position, then it has plenty.

The same goes for space. Passengers of any size will find cabin space aplenty, although you might expect even more from its exterior dimensions. The second row of Ghost cannot accommodate airliner-style reclining chairs, unlike a Mercedes-Maybach S-class, but you can have that in the EWB (Extended Wheelbase) version. Between the independent rear chairs you can opt for wine cabinet with refrigerator.

No matter front or back, you are surrounded with high-quality materials: big and soft leather chairs, thick carpets, wood and leather trims everywhere, lacquered panels, metal air vents, all feel rich and impeccably built. The interior design is traditional, conservative even, simpler and less flamboyant than Bentley, but it suits the target customers of Rolls-Royce, which are usually older and more conservative kind of people. It lacks the “Art Gallery” of the Phantom, but the starlight roof and LED ambient lighting still delivers a classy feel. And yes, you can opt for LED illumination on the waterfall radiator front grille, so don’t think the Ghost lacks flamboyance.

Even cruising at a steady 70 mph, it is incredibly hushed, quieter than Bentley, quieter than Mercedes, and even Phantom.

The infotainment system is reskinned from BMW. Its touchscreen and i-Drive rotary control work very well, while graphics look crisped and response is quick.

The Ghost starts in the quietest manner. Running at idle, you can hardly perceive the operation of the V12, because it is so smooth and so quiet. Even cruising at a steady 70 mph, it is incredibly hushed, quieter than Bentley, quieter than Mercedes, and even Phantom. The effort Rolls-Royce spent to insulation and suppress noises have paid off.

Few cars can be driven as relaxingly as the Ghost. You don’t ever look at the rev counter, not only because it always provides plenty of torque to meet your demand but also it doesn’t have a rev counter. You don’t make gearshift either, because this is the only ZF 8HP transmission that forgoes manual mode deliberately. You don’t need to bother between Comfort and Sport mode either, since it provides neither. If you must call, the Ghost has only one mode: Comfort. Sport or Sport+ are just things living in another universe, let alone ESC-Off. Nothing could be easier to drive as this car: you just give the smooth throttle pedal a little bit pressure, turn the very light yet precise steering wheel, watch rather than hear or feel the outside world moving backward. The V12 turns like an electric motor and the gearshift is smooth to the extent of imperceptible. The Ghost makes a driving experience non-experience.

The Ghost makes a driving experience non-experience.

The soft suspension is competent to take on most surfaces. Bigger, slower bumps are absorbed effortlessly. Undulations on motorway are smoothed out like magic carpet. Only high-frequency irregularities might be felt and heard in the cabin, something air suspensions not always good at dealing with. The Ghost unquestionably rides smoother than Bentley Flying Spur, though Mercedes S-class is probably more rounded.

Naturally, the combination of soft suspension, high center of gravity and the lack of Sport mode means pronounced body roll. It is far from alarming, as there is still adaptive dampers and active rear anti-roll bar to take care of, but you are not encouraged to hustle the Ghost in tighter corners. It will also run into understeer in such circumstances. In faster bends, once the huge body settles on the soft suspension, it turns more neutrally. However, even though it is noticeably more agile than the Phantom, this is absolutely no driver’s car. The body roll, the soft brakes, the lack of steering feel and weight all limit its driver appeal.

So what? Rolls-Royce has never pretended to be a driver’s car in its 117-year history. When it wanted, it made use of the Bentley name. Since the divorce from Bentley and went into the hands of BMW, Rolls-Royce is happy with making the world’s most luxurious and comfortable cars. Whether you like its bulky shape, its conservative design or its under-par driver appeal, you have to admit that it delivers luxury and comfort better than others, at least when cost is not a concern.


Length / width / height
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Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Aluminum spaceframe
5546 / 1978 / 1571 mm
3295 mm
V12, 60-degree
6749 cc
DOHC 48 valves, DVVT
571 hp / 5000 rpm
627 lbft / 1600 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone / R: multi-link
Adaptive damping + air springs,
active anti-roll bar
2490 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.6 (c)

Performance tested by: -

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