Sir Henry Royce once said, “Accept nothing that is nearly right or good enough.” Rolls-Royce customers agree with that sentiment. Buyers are persnickety with their millions and their opinions, which is why, when they want a fresh look to their 5-year-old Ghosts, they get it. Whatever you do, however, don’t call it a face-lift.
Rolls-Royce director of communications Richard Carter insists that the company doesn’t chase volume, but it does listen to buyers. The BMW-owned British luxury car brand is poised to have a banner year, thanks in large part to the smaller, faster Wraith, but also because of the popularity of the original Ghost, launched in 2009. Carter says that for every Phantom sold, three Ghosts (a figure that includes the Wraith) go out the door. This year, Rolls-Royce is predicting it will surpass 4,000 units sold.
The profile of the Rolls owner is changing, too. The age of the average Rolls-Royce buyer has dropped by 10 years, thanks in large part to the Wraith. Additionally, past buyers were often royalty, celebrities, and heirs. Today, Rolls says, customers are entrepreneurs and “captains of industry.” “Ghost is the car to celebrate making money,” Carter said. “It is the ultimate business tool, and our customers wanted a more approachable but only slightly restyled Ghost.”
Enter the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II.
Subtlety and Rolls-Royce aren’t generally two things that go hand in hand, but on first blush the new Ghost Series II has only a few small visual cues that differentiate it from its predecessor. Nearly every panel at the front of the car has been redesigned, from the bumper to the bonnet. A seven-degree tilt on the Spirit Of Ecstasy and headlights that sit slightly wider (only 50mm) give the car an even more imposing look than Ghost Series I. Lines trailing back from the iconic hood ornament give the car a lifted and tightened look, and are meant to echo the stream of a jet or a boat through water. New, adaptive LED-rimmed headlights have taken on a less blocky shape.
Climbing into the nearly 17-foot, 9-inch-long car (that’s 9 inches longer than your 2015 Cadillac Escalade) at first is intimidating. It’s big, pristine, and expensive. Powered by Rolls-Royce’s 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-12, with 563 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque, the Ghost II feels amply powerful, making you forget its size at times. Throttle response is immediate, but the Ghost II doesn’t just drive, it proceeds. It actually proceeds pretty quickly if you desire, with a 4.8 second 0-60 mph time that’s two-tenths of a second faster at than its predecessor, according to Rolls.
If you, or perhaps your driver, want a more spirited drive, Rolls-Royce offers the Dynamic Driving Package, which includes different front and rear struts, adjusted damper settings, and a tweaked steering system that, according to Rolls, increases the car’s cornering ability and delivers “enhanced feedback” to the driver. We weren’t able to test that package on this drive. Suffice it to say, it’s easy to lose track of how fast you’re motoring along on the highway in the base model. Lucky for you, its massive ventilated brakes can hustle you down to more civilized speeds quickly and quietly. Though there weren’t any great, swoopy backroads in the Dallas area where we drove the car, the Ghost II felt heavy but surprisingly agile on the few occasions we were able to push it.
Combined with the new satellite-guided transmission taken from the Wraith, the car takes nearly all the work out of getting from Point A to Point B. The system uses GPS to monitor the road ahead and can proactively adjust inputs based on what it sees, be it curves, undulations, or a slow-down. The eight-speed transmission means a lot of shifting but, in true Rolls-Royce fashion, it is absolutely seamless.
Inside the cabin, it’s clear that the BMW-owned company has benefited from its big brother’s technological advancement, too. The Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller used to access the car’s functions and, based on BMW’s iDrive, has a smooth and mechanical feel as you click through menus. Since China and the Middle East are Rolls-Royce’s second- and third-largest markets, the controller, which doubles as a touchpad, also recognizes English, Arabic, and even Mandarin characters drawn on its face.
That’s not to say it has lost its Old World charm. When Rolls says you are buying a piece of art, it means it. The Ghost II is just as sumptuous as any of the Rolls-Royce line. Full of fine woods, leathers, and metals — and, if you so desire, even diamonds — the interior is luxurious and opulent. If you are so inclined, you could have a tree cut from your grand estate and used in the dashboard or crafted into elaborate and beautiful marquetry details inside the car.
If you’ve never been driven in a Rolls-Royce, you’ve never felt what it’s like to float above it all. The term “wafting” is simultaneously insipidly infuriating and dead accurate. There is really no other way to describe being shuttled along in the Ghost II. The new, slightly retuned suspension system, including new hydraulic rear-axle bearings, increases stability and reduces noise and vibrations inside the near silent car. With the included “lounge seat” configuration in Ghost II, seats angle toward each other, closing the space between passengers to “create a more intimate setting.” The traditional seats are also available. There’s more than enough room to stretch out and snooze or use the massaging seats. Or, if work must be done, you have more than enough space to pull out a laptop.
While the upgrades to the 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II are mainly subtle, they’re the type of enhancements that should help keep it popular with its clientele. Deliveries of the $280,000-plus car have begun, and it is currently backordered until March.
2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II Specifications
- On Sale: October 2014
- Base Price: $285,750
- Engine: 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged 48-valve V-12/563 hp @ 5,250 rpm, 575 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan
- EPA Mileage: 13/20 mpg (city/highway)
- L x W x H: 212.6 x 76.7 x 61.0 in
- Wheelbase: 129.7 in
- Weight: 5,490 lb