Enough lurid prose. Add it up: smallest modern Rolls-Royce, most powerful engine ever, BMW overlords. Hang onto your hat, brother. You are most definitely going for a ride. Once you press that big silver start/stop button, position the thin column-mounted shift stalk in Drive, and hit the gas with gusto, it will be some time before you notice much else of your surroundings. You have 563 hp to work with, but what you feel when you strike from a stop, with a solid right foot, is 575 lb-ft of torque available in its entirety at 1500 rpm. It will take your breath away. With that kind of power at your command - beautifully managed by an eight-speed ZF transmission with a towering 4.72:1 first gear - you will instantly notice how great the steering wheel feels in your hands and how precisely it responds to your command. R-R is claiming a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.7 seconds for the Ghost, which is staggering when you realize that you're hurtling down the road in a nearly three-ton rocket. Top speed is restricted to 155 mph. As you would imagine, big old ventilated disc brakes ably haul the Ghost to a stop with no drama.
The next surprise is the Ghost's absolute lack of body roll in turns and its sublime composure over lumpy pavement, a level of suspension refinement (control-arm front and multilink rear, with air springs and variable-rate dampers) that far exceeds the usual Rolls "waftability" measure. It's a bit disconcerting to be shooting along these punishingly narrow English roads, peering out over the bulwark of overpolished wood and leather. It helps that the seat sits just high enough to afford a clear view of the lorry that's about to knock off your side mirror. (He's twice as big and going even faster, you think to yourself. He's probably not jet-lagged, yourself adds.)
Make no mistake, the Ghost is a sports car. A four-door, chauffeur's version of a sports car, but a sports car all the same. "Naught to sixty in 4.7 seconds is disturbing," says R-R public affairs boss Richard Carter with furrowed brow as he dabs napkin to lips at lunch. "We don't want to be known as sporty. But . . . there you have it."
Oh, do get on with your bad British self.
"We are in the business of probably trebling what we are already doing," says Purves. "We have 1600 seriously intending customers, much stronger than we intended sixteen months ago. Eighty percent of these people have never been in a Rolls-Royce before. Many of them never even thought of a Rolls-Royce before. They are coming from Ferrari, from the Mercedes S-class, and from Bentley. People dream of owning a Rolls."
At $247,000 (gas-guzzler tax yet to be determined), the Ghost makes that dream much more attainable.