The Rolls-Royce Ghost is a driver's car. You know, the type of driver who is paid to wear a suit, always be early, and smile even on his worst of days. As such, the ride is so supple that you might imagine the massive twenty-inch wheels dancing around potholes rather than just soaking up the impacts. The twin-turbocharged V-12's 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque are massaged for gentle yet firm delivery through the eight-speed automatic. The engine never feels aggressive, yet there's always jet-like thrust at the ready.
The small Rolls affords plenty of room for rear-seat passengers, and the trunk could swallow a small Chevy. As you might imagine, the rear seats are just as comfortable as the fronts, and the lambs'-wool carpet under your feet feels like it's three inches thick. I was surprised, though, to see how much equipment was optional, rather than standard on the Ghost. A panoramic sunroof-standard on a $46,355 Acura ZDX-is a $7000 option on top of the $248,700 base price. Passive entry costs $1700 while those iconic wood tray tables cost $2800.
The navigation and entertainment system is borrowed from BMW's iDrive, which means that Rolls doesn't have to curse high-dollar cars with inferior electronics, like so many other niche manufacturers do. The center stack is kept free of clutter by burying a few settings (such as stability control) deep in the iDrive-like system. There's also a neat interactive owners' manual that can be accessed when the vehicle is stopped.
Rolls-Royce executives are hoping that the Ghost will draw in new customers and alter how existing owners perceive their cars. As a smaller and more affordable car, the Ghost is designed to be more approachable and more accessible, so that owners take it out of the garage more often. What Rolls-Royce has created, though, is a perfect replica of the Phantom experience. For that reason, I don't see the Ghost as a new and unique vehicle, but simply a more affordable way to get into the prestige and indulgence of a Rolls-Royce. Then again, I think it's a small victory when I can save a dollar on a box of cereal.