First drive: 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II
Of all the things the Ghost Series II does exceptionally well, which is virtually everything, perhaps its best feature is its force-of-nature on-road presence.
Charles Rolls, the gentleman who co-founded Rolls-Royce with Henry Royce back in 1906, was the first Briton to ever die in an aeronautical accident – AKA “plane crash.”
In the summer of 1910, Rolls was giving a flying demonstration of his Wright Flyer, which he had purchased from the Wright brothers, when the tail of the aircraft broke off, sending Rolls crashing into the earth and to his death.
The takeaway from this factoid is that Rolls-Royces aren’t just for kings and queens; they’re for daredevil bad-asses, too.
It doesn’t drive, it wafts
Let’s just cut to the chase; the Ghost Series II drives just like how you imagine it will.
The seats don’t just support; they cocoon, massage, and heat or cool. The feel of the supple leather-covered steering wheel in your hands is light and elegant rather than fat and heavy like a sportier car. And as for the suspension, let’s just say it’s a good thing the Ghost has pedestrian-detecting night vision; the ride is so smooth that if you hit someone, you’d likely never notice.
The twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 under the long hood, accented with a new wake line, produces 563 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque. Mated to the new eight-speed Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT), the Ghost II will waft to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and onward to a top speed of 155 mph.
Just as one might expect from a Roller, the power isn’t sudden or overwhelming but rather effortless. The driver or passenger’s head is never ripped back with brutal acceleration. Instead, the car feels like it simply pushes the earth backward in the opposite direction, leaving the occupants exceptionally comfortable.
Behind the wheel of the Ghost II, a driver feels not like he is piloting a manmade, leather-festooned hunk of steel, but rather a force of nature. The vehicle gave the impression it had so much gravitas it could carve out new canyons or flatten out mountain ranges if it wanted.
It’s this sensation that makes the Ghost so fantastic. Yes, it is rather boat-y in the bends, with lots of body roll. I suspect, however, if you’re driving it like this, it is you who is at fault and not the car. If you’re wallowing the car in a corner, you’re simply doing it wrong.
A Rolls-Royce sighting – even in a money-rich place like Dallas, Texas – is a pretty rare. After all, the brand only sells around 3,600 cars worldwide each year. So when onlookers spied the caravan of eight Ghost Series IIs cruising down Highway 35 East outside downtown Dallas, their jaws dropped. I’ll admit it; even I was awestruck by the sight.
Even though the Ghost is the brand’s ‘entry-level’ model, it still commands much respect. With a retractable Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet mascot (Brit-speak for hood ornament) topping the Parthenon grille, the Ghost tells observers something very important is happening.
Come to a stop, open the doors, and that feeling is only intensified, as the rear-hinged second row doors welcome occupants into a virtual Shangri-La. The interior of the Ghost II doesn’t feel cutting-edge, though many of its features are. Instead, it offers old-world opulence with deep, soft carpets and only the finest wood appointments. Ensuring only the finest seating materials, Rolls-Royce leather is taken from only two-year-old bulls raised on ranches without barbed wire above 2,000 feet of elevation — to avoid scars left by mosquitos. Yes, really.
Brilliantly hidden behind all that old-world luxury is a suite of technology systems, including the aforementioned night vision. The satellite-aided transmission chooses gears based upon not just throttle position but also GPS information. The car offers a brilliant head-up display (HUD). And the Spirit of Ecstasy rotary controller with touch commands allows users to easily navigate through the car’s intuitive infotainment system.
Why you buy
Before we journalists climbed behind the wheel, Rolls-Royce’s representatives gave us a glimpse into the lives of the people who buy their cars. Sure, there are kings, queens, and presidents who buy Rolls-Royces. But the buyers the brand is most proud of are the ones who worked for their wealth: entrepreneurs and business tycoons.
These people come to the brand because they recognize the finer things. They’re exacting, demanding people and they want to tell the world just how well they’ve done. I like that. And I get it.
For all the wondrous reasons to buy a Rolls-Royce, of which there are many, the best I can think of is because it’s Rolls-Royce. There is no compromise with the brand. No moneymen were allowed to cut out features or undermine quality.
The brand reps also informed us that many American buyers simply go into a Rolls-Royce dealer looking to buy on the spot. If you’re looking to buy a Rolls, don’t simply pick one off the lot. This isn’t a Cadillac.
Take the time. Pick out your interior leathers. Get exactly the paint color you’ve always wanted. Heck, get the fuel cap monogrammed. Why? Because you can.
After all, that’s why you’re buying a Rolls-Royce, right?
- Interior serenity
- Force-of-nature power
- Exquisite materials and build quality
- Unparalleled on-road presence
- Excessive body roll during high-speed cornering