New for 2010, the 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost continues to carve out a new luxury niche that the uber-luxury brand has long left to lesser brands--brands like Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.
With a whole new styling language that's a little less baroque than its big sibling, the Phantom, the Ghost is a much more effective blend of modern and traditional luxury cues. It also keeps a good visual distance from the car it's in part derived from, the BMW 7-Series. The Ghost's front end sits tall, with a tipped-back grille framed in stainless steel that extends back on the hood, if specified as such by its well-heeled owner. It's a great detail carried over from the concept 200EX that translated directly into the new sedan's shape without a hitch. Inside there's the same attention to history with a new, fresh take: wood trim and chrome vent pulls blend in fairly well with a large LCD screen that controls much of the infotainment and climate systems, while warm leather and deep carpeting leaves no doubts as to the Roller's heritage.
The Ghost's performance is unearthly, fitting its name. There's a BMW-derived, twin-turbocharged V-12 underhood putting out 563 horsepower through the rear wheels and an eight-speed automatic transmission. For its hefty curb weight and long, long wheelbase, the Ghost is a hustler capable of 0-60 mph times of less than 5.0 seconds. Handling and braking are superb, with a lighter feel to the steering and a thinner wheel than you'd see in a BMW--all to underline its British character, if not all of its international origins.
The Ghost is fitted with a safety tour de force of airbags, traction and stability controls, even a grouping of cameras that channel a near-360 image of its surroundings for dent-free parking maneuvers. Night vision, a lane-departure warning system, active high-beam headlamps and cruise control are integrated as well.
But it's the back seat that remains the Rolls-Royce tour de force. The rear-hinged rear doors open to expose a jamb-mounted umbrella--swell--and a ritzy, plus back seat that swallows two or three guests with a single gulp of over-the-top luxury. In every direction, the Ghost's veneers and leather do their best to mimic a tony piano lounge, allowing passengers to fine-tune the rear-seat entertainment to their liking, to zone in on their own climate control preferences--even to sip from a bottle of dry Champagne with the available crystal flutes tucked into hidden chambers in back.
We've road-tested the Ghost on our sister site, MotorAuthority, and changes for the 2011 model year are expected to be minimal. For more information on the big new luxosedan, steer over to our first drive of the 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost.