2017 Rolls-Royce Ghost Review

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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
June 10, 2017

Audacious in its opulence, but oriented toward a generation of buyers more inclined to drive than to be driven, the Rolls-Royce Ghost is a remarkable step forward for the brand.

Sure, the Rolls-Royce Ghost might be the iconic luxury brand's "entry-level" luxury sedan, but its base price is as much as a nice house in suburban Kansas City, so it's not exactly a base model. 

At over $250,000, it's in elite company, and it stacks up against the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, the Aston Martin Rapide, and the Bentley Flying Spur. What sets those, and the Ghost, apart from traditional luxury cars is that they're designed as much for drivers as they are for back seat passengers. 

We've scored it an 8.2, knocking it mainly for its high price and its expected thirst for fuel—items that should be of minor consequence to most buyers. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The Ghost Series II represents the way the historic luxury brand has evolved under BMW stewardship; it's based on the last BMW 7-Series, but don't think of it as merely an old BMW in drag. It continues to encapsulate the Rolls-Royce way of prestige and presence in an ever-so slightly smaller but still eye-catching way. 

In 2015, the Ghost earned the Series II designation with some moderate revisions to a successful Rolls-Royce model, keeping the interest up without diminishing the striking looks and audacious levels of luxury. The 2017 model remains essentially unchanged, as is custom for Rolls-Royce's incremental updates.

Silky performance, exclusive feel

The Ghost is exclusively propelled by a 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 engine that delivers 563 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque. Despite a mass checking in at upwards of 5,500 pounds, the Ghost accelerates effortlessly and silently from 0-60 mph in a mere 4.8 seconds.

What Rolls-Royce dubs its "Satellite Aided Transmission technology," allows the Ghost to predict and select gears based on the road’s bends and rises, an innovation that arrived with the Series II. This smooths out the driving for minimal shifting intrusion that could disturb the atmosphere in the leather and wood-lined cabin. 

While it shouldn't be a surprise the Ghost cossets and pampers its passengers, it may come as a shock that it's also responsive to drive—a byproduct of its BMW-derived chassis. Press the accelerator, and it rapidly glides, rather than merely accelerates, forward seemingly without exerting any effort. Press on the brakes and its slows promptly, again with a minimum of fuss. Turn the wheel, and you’ll find a hair more feedback than we've seen in previous Rollers via a slightly thicker steering wheel rim. This is the first Rolls-Royce in generations designed to be driven, not just ridden in, and it shows.

The ride quality is where a Rolls-Royce has to succeed and the Ghost truly shines. Size, weight, and very large wheels coupled with fairly low-profile tires, are known enemies of good ride quality; it can be very difficult to tune a car to control such a combination of physics while also coddling the occupants. Rolls-Royce’s engineers have figured out how.

Rolls-Royce re-engineered the Ghost's air struts, rear-end kinematics, and dynamic dampers with the first model begat the Series II. There's an incrementally, but still noteworthy improved in the model's ride, which feels as settled as ever. Handling dials in a bit sharper, but those who truly value corner carving will be better suited to rivals like the Aston Martin Rapide. Still, there has never been a better way to look out on the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament while sitting in the driver' seat.  

The inside story

Inside, Rolls-Royce shoppers who are upgrading from a BMW may notice the occasional switchgear from a 7-Series or a distinctly iDrive-like experience when navigating the electronics interface. But the Ghost still carries a distinct experience all its own, with noticeable heritage pieces scattered about to remind that this is no everyday luxury sedan.

There's an amazing attention to detail here, like rear seats that are angled slightly toward one another to facilitate conversation, not to mention the Spirit of Ecstasy inlay within the infotainment system's rotary control knob. It's outrageous without an especially high degree of ostentation. We can't help but run our fingers across every surface; the term "authentic" absolutely applies to the materials within as every piece of metal, wood, or leather is the real McCoy—something even a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz doesn't necessarily deliver on. 

For buyers who demand more exclusivity, the Bespoke program offers extended leather upholstery options and special wood trims to choose from. For a price, of course, but this program is as popular with buyers as you might expect.

On the technology front, the Ghost has a wi-fi hotspot, offering easy connectivity for any on-the-go data needs.

The Bespoke Audio System is the one Rolls-Royce bills as the “most exhaustively engineered and finest audio system in automotive history.” That's an ambitious claim, but in our limited time behind the wheel, we were more impressed with audio systems from brands like Bang & Olufsen, Bowers & Wilkins, and Burmester than the Bespoke unit in the Ghost. It proved to be muddy in the mid-range, light on bass, and tinny and higher frequencies, even after we toggled through the settings. 

That one beef aside, the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II shows it's aging gracefully, keeping Rolls-Royce faithful content while giving the "new money" a reason to look at the Spirit of Ecstasy. The Ghost presents a compelling, luxurious package of features and capabilities, well-suited to its target audience: the younger half of the movers and shakers in the technology, financial, and business worlds. For those lucky, capable few, the Ghost Series II may be just what they’re after.

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