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Roadshow: 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost is a powerhouse that'll spoil you with luxury

By Steven Ewing, Roadshow on

Published in Automotive News

Despite Rolls-Royce coining the term "post-opulence" to describe the new Ghost, few cars in the world are as posh as this one. Debuting this month, the 2021 Ghost takes lessons learned from Rolls-Royce's Cullinan SUV and Phantom sedan but adds a few clever tricks of its own. The result is one of the finest luxury cars money can buy. Opulent indeed.

The Ghost's exterior design is intentionally quite simple. The clean lines and smooth creases let you focus on the details, and the hand-welded aluminum body panels are huge, allowing for as few cut lines as possible. Also, for the first time on any Rolls-Royce, the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament sits within its own "lake of bonnet," rather than being housed on a separate panel. It's all very clean and incredibly handsome.

Taken as a whole, the Ghost has a minimalist appearance. But look more closely and you'll notice some incredible attention to detail. The headlights and taillights are both larger and more stylized than before, and there's an added bit of brightwork in the grille. Rolls-Royce put 20 LED lights under the top of the grille that shine down on the brushed metal spokes. But since Rolls-Royce didn't want the lit-up fascia to come off as too ostentatious, the backs of the metal bars are covered in a matte finish, so they aren't quite so illuminated. Opulent, but not SUPER-opulent. You know?

V12 power with new chassis tech

The new Ghost rides on Rolls-Royce's proprietary and modular Architecture of Luxury platform, the same one that underpins the Cullinan and Phantom. Its 129.7-inch wheelbase matches that of the Cullinan, but the Ghost's body is 8 inches longer overall - 219 inches stem to stern. That's for the standard-wheelbase Ghost, by the way; an extended version will launch later this year.

Considering the familiar underpinnings, it won't surprise you that the Ghost uses a familiar engine: Rolls-Royce's well-known 6.75-liter, twin-turbocharged V12. (Fun fact: This is the only engine for which we allow two decimal places.) Here, the big V12 produces 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, which is enough shove to get this 5,628-pound sedan to 60 mph in a scant 4.6 seconds.


The shared Cullinan architecture means the Ghost now has all-wheel drive, whereas its predecessor relied on rear-wheel drive only. This should make the Ghost more appealing to folks who live in colder climates - go on, park one at your grand lodge in Aspen - and provide some small handling benefits as well. Additionally, the Ghost's chassis incorporates rear-axle steering, which will not only make it slightly more agile while cornering, it'll make the big sedan far more manageable at slow speeds in parking lots, valet lines and so on.

Of course, on-road performance is relative when it comes to a Rolls-Royce. Arguably far more important than its cornering capabilities and 0-to-60 time is how smoothly the Ghost can waft down the road, delivering Rolls' signature "magic carpet ride" effect. And to that end, Rolls-Royce created something it calls the Planar Suspension System, which the company grandly says will "create a sense of flight on land never before achieved by a motor car."

The Ghost has what's called an upper-wishbone damper unit above the front suspension assembly. In simple terms, the dampers have dampers, which should make the ride buttery smooth. Plus, the Ghost has a stereo camera in the windshield that can scan the road ahead and alter the dampers for upcoming road-surface changes. Even the eight-speed automatic transmission has a GPS link so it can seamlessly upshift or downshift in advance of an approaching hill or turn. The end result is comfort above all - a ride quality that's nothing short of serene.

A cleaner, more glamorous interior


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