2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost Sedan - FROM $250,000
Those looking for an automobile with the presence and luxury of a Rolls-Royce Phantom but with a more manageable size and acquisition cost should be pleased with the 2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost.
What's New for 2012
For 2012, the Rolls-Royce Ghost is offered in an additional long-wheelbase version. The few other changes include new wheel and cabin trim options as well as a full-color head-up display and pedestrian recognition warning for the night vision system.
The "baby" Rolls-Royce. The "entry-level" Rolls-Royce. The "cheaper" Rolls-Royce. Invariably, this is how people will refer to the 2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost. Yes, this baby's smaller than the Phantom, but we're still talking about a large luxury sedan that weighs as much as a Chevy Tahoe. We're also still talking about a quarter-million-dollar automobile that lacks nothing in terms of prestige, engineering or appointments.
As such, one needn't be embarrassed for choosing the Ghost over its bigger and more expensive Phantom sibling. The less massive Ghost offers improved handling and a less ostentatious image (of course that's relative) which make it a better choice as a daily driver.
As its platform is based on that of the BMW 7 Series, the 2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost feels Germanic in terms of its finely balanced ride and handling dynamics. Still, its Rolls-Royce heritage shines through in the stately way it effortlessly wafts down the highway. Though Rolls-Royce used to coyly proclaim engine outputs as "sufficient," today the company will only too gladly boast. With 563 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque, the Ghost's mighty twin-turbo V12 is more powerful than the Phantom's V12 engine and can catapult this "baby Rolls" to 60 mph in about the same time as a Mustang GT.
You'd expect the Ghost's cabin to be handsome, crafted to the highest standard and chock full of luxury gadgets. You wouldn't be disappointed. Still, it's hard to argue that it's really that much better than a 2012 Audi A8L, 2012 Jaguar XJL Supersport or 2012 Mercedes-Benz S550. All tick off nearly the same boxes as the Ghost, while costing as much as $130,000 less.
But none of them is a Rolls-Royce, and even the more expensive Bentley Mulsanne can't truly match the presence and prestige afforded a car with the Spirit of Ecstasy on its radiator grille. That it happens to be a "baby," "entry-level" or "cheaper" Rolls doesn't really matter.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost is a four-door, five-seat sedan available in two trim levels: base and the longer EWB (extended wheelbase). Apart from having a 6.7-inch stretch in wheelbase to provide even more room for rear seat passengers, the EWB is similar to the base Ghost.
Standard feature highlights include 19-inch wheels, an active air suspension, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, automatic xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, power-closing rear "coach" doors, leather upholstery and trim, a pair of umbrellas stored within the front doors, heated front and rear seats, 10-way power and massaging front seats, four-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a 16-speaker sound system with a CD/DVD player, satellite radio, digital music storage, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Options are seemingly limited by the buyer's imagination and finances, as one may choose such items as drop-down wood picnic tables, twin rear DVD monitors (with a six-disc changer) and multi-adjustable outboard rear seats with further optional massaging and/or ventilation. You can also get a cooler between the seats. The Driver's Assistance Systems package adds lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, a color head-up display and a night-vision camera (with pedestrian detection warning). Although a dozen exterior colors, along with a choice of eight leather and five wood trims, will be offered as standard fare, those seeking more exclusivity will be able to customize their Ghost any way they see fit through the company's "Bespoke Commission" program.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost is powered by a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 that produces 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rolls-Royce quotes the 0-60-mph sprint as taking less than 5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 13 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined.
The Ghost comes with stability and traction control, antilock brakes, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. The Driver's Assistance Systems package adds a lane-departure warning system, automatic high beams, a head-up display and a night-vision camera.
Interior Design and Special Features
Exotic wood veneers and metallic accents are used liberally throughout the cabin, where passengers are cosseted in the finest leathers. Though plush carpeting is, of course, standard, one may opt for genuine lambswool mats that will have you taking your shoes off in favor of car slippers. As nice as the Ghost's interior is, however, it's really only incrementally better than what you'll find inside the latest Audi A8, Jag XJ or Benz S-Class.
Despite the dizzying array of high-tech luxury features, the Ghost presents a relatively clean dash and console. Part of the reason is that the multi-display screen is hidden behind a wood panel when not in use. The BMW-sourced multicontroller knob is mostly intuitive (unlike the earlier versions of BMW's iDrive) and elegant buttons and knobs resemble the keys of a flute or saxophone.
In keeping with tradition, backseat passengers are pampered with well-shaped and supportive seats that also provide a clear view ahead. A large fold-down armrest and a measure of privacy afforded by the thick, rearmost roof pillars are two other benefits to sitting in the rear. Unlike tradition (and the Phantom), however, the Ghost can be equipped with adjustable, massaging and ventilated outboard rear seats. Considering the Ghost's size, the trunk's 14-cubic-foot capacity is unacceptably modest.
The 2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost's twin-turbo V12 is exceptionally smooth and silent. The gentle response from the first bit of throttle travel makes for smooth, lurch-free takeoffs, but lean into it and you unleash a smooth, steady, turbine-like thrust that continues to swell effortlessly into triple-digit speeds. The eight-speed automatic transmission is spot-on as well.
The active air suspension goes about its duties with similar transparency, smothering bumps and ruts that would have you grimacing for a harsh impact in lesser cars. Despite a curb weight of about 5,500 pounds, the Ghost feels smaller than it is, and the light and precise steering makes maneuvering the big car a breeze once you've acclimated to its dimensions.
At speed on an open highway, the Ghost quietly and rapidly covers ground, with passengers feeling that perhaps they are ensconced in a private jet or luxury railway car. On a curving road, the Ghost will roll a bit at lower speeds, but as the pace gathers, the suspension firms up and road feel remains acceptable.