Gentle manner, giant footprint
Normally this level of mid-life tweakery would not get within a couple of counties of this page. Space constraints mean I can include fewer than 50 car tests a year for Motor Sport, which probably represents fewer than a third of the models that are, in one way or another, fresh to the market.
But this is a Rolls-Royce and while it may only have slightly different lights, new swage lines, quieter rear axle bearings, a wider range of wood and leather and rear seats subtly angled towards each other to encourage conversation, the rules are a little different. Besides, the Ghost’s design is already five years old and it’s always interesting to see how it’s stood the passage of time.
Brilliantly is the answer. The reason I love the Citroën 2CV, Land Rover Defender and the LaFerrari is the same reason I love current Rolls-Royce products: they know their job and are focused on it to the exclusion of all else. Indeed I have reservations about the Wraith, which in its desire to be more sporting is also less comfortable and, to me, less of a Rolls-Royce as a result.
How good then to see that despite its 6.6-litre twin turbo V12, the Ghost II retains every one of its original unsporting instincts and, in the Extended Wheelbase version I drove, actually adds to them. It is always effortless because that’s an important manifestation of luxury, but such is the languid nature of its torque delivery and so clever is its eight-speed gearbox – which is now briefed by the sat-nav so it knows what gear to be in for the topographical conditions ahead – that you never want to use more than the first third of the throttle’s travel.
More importantly, if you show it a corner it will gently heave onto your preferred line and then stay there, following your chosen path like the faithful family retainer it is. You can lift the accelerator or jam it wide open and still sail through with your trajectory unaffected. A Rolls-Royce you can steer on the throttle is not a Rolls-Royce.
And then there’s the comfort.
To savour it you need to be in the back, legs outstretched, socks buried somewhere in the lambswool rugs. This is ride quality of a kind that makes you actually look forward to the bumps in the road, just so you can feel how well it deals with them.
Most make no impression at all, while those that do get through are reduced to feeling like mere dust.
The only aspect of this fine car that makes me at all uncomfortable is the thought of what those around think of it and you. You can drive the most exotic machines imaginable and always count on enthusiastic engagement with the public every time you stop. But never yet in a Rolls: I suspect they fear the owner of a brand-new Roller would not have much to say to the general public. That’s a shame, because even by Rolls-Royce standards this is an exceptional car. Were it really mine, I’d look forward to talking about it at every possible opportunity.
Engine: 6.6 litres, 12 cylinders, turbocharged
Power: [email protected]
Torque: 575lb [email protected]
Transmission: eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 155mph