In the Holland Group's magnificent $22 million automotive temple on Décarie Boulevard in the heart of Montreal, Auto123 got a close look at the new Ghost, which has a surprise in store with its 2021 edition: all-wheel drive.
To start with, the Ghost, less colossal than its big sister the Phantom, may interest entry-level super-luxury buyers since it symbolizes the gateway into the world of Rolls-Royce.
At a starting price of around $350,000, how can one resist?
To thank you for smashing 2,322 piggy banks and trashing your offspring's education savings to join this select club, the BMW Group, owner of the prestigious British brand since 1998, is offering you all-wheel drive as the cherry on the sundae.
Now admit it, that is the last sales pitch that was missing to convince you.
The four wheels get involved
A Ghost only powered by its rear wheels? Pshaw! Don't even think about it from now on. The car’s new AWD system decides when to send up to half of the 627 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. What's more, the rear wheels are now directional: at under 70 km/h, they steer 3% in the opposite direction of the front wheels to make parking manoeuvres easier or to increase cornering grip; at higher speeds, they stay in line with the other rubbers to keep this two-and-a-half-ton locomotive on its tracks.
Plus, a Ghost AWD is less dangerous. "Think of winter for the residents of Outremont and Westmount who live on very steep streets," says Gad Bitton, president of the Holland Group, which has the only Rolls-Royce dealership in Quebec.
The travails of the rich.
Yes, but couldn’t these good people just choose an SUV - maybe even a Cullinan - from among the half-dozen vehicles sleeping in their underground garage and thus make their climb to Westmount’s chi-chi Summit Circle less life-endangering? "Ghost buyers want to drive it," Gad insists.
The privilege of the rich.
Launched in 2009, the first Ghost became the best-selling Rolls in the brand's 116-year history. The generation that succeeded it was vastly different, keeping little of the outgoing model other than the umbrella that slips into the suicide doors and the Spirit of Ecstasy statuette overlooking the mythical grille (now discreetly illuminated at night).
While the previous model was based on the chassis of a BMW 7 Series, the new Ghost has its own aluminum monocoque body (called Architecture of Luxury), which already underpins both the Phantom and the Cullinan.
The suspension of the Ghost AWD, named Planar, is very special. Three main elements ensure its uniqueness: a triangulated lever, which required five years of R&D, has been added above the air shocks to improve the feeling of floating on a magic carpet worthy of Aladdin; the Flagbearer system uses cameras in the windshield to monitor the road and adjust the suspension before an obstacle arises (a technology already introduced by Mercedes-Benz); and of course the transmission (taken from the Phantom) that manages its own supernatural tricks by using GPS satellites to predict the slopes and curves ahead, so that the 8-speed ZF unit selects the right gears at just the right times.
We'd have a lot more to say about the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost AWD, longer than before by 89 mm and the 6.75L V12 engine of which manages the schizophrenic feat of racing from 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds while ensuring a ghostly silence within the royal boudoir, but we'll stop there. Suffice to say that this new Rolls-Royce incarnates the brand's new philosophy: Post Opulent.
To put it another way: it's so obvious that we're swimming in automotive perfection that there's no need to belabour the point.
The simplicity of the rich.