With a twin-turbo V12 that powers the BMW 760Li, we review the 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost – a luxury rocket with intimidating size and surprising speed

PROS:

  • Surprising speed
  • Incredible style
  • Incomparable workmanship

CONS:

  • Intimidating size
  • Less than stellar agility
  • Soft handling

Newport Beach, California  Since 2003, when Rolls-Royce was taken over by BMW, this legendary carmaker has remained at the very forefront of the ultra-luxury segment through a combination of traditional British exclusivity and proven German engineering.

All of this momentum was built on the back of a single model, the outrageously appealing Phantom and its four different variations. But this has changed with the introduction of a brand new model, the Ghost, a smaller and less expensive sedan targeted at a new kind of buyer.

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Now, to be clear, these new customers will also be of the well-heeled sort; while the least expensive model in the Phantom range starts at US$380,000, the Ghost tips the scales at a still lofty US$245,000. (In other words, poseurs need not apply.)

2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost Review2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost Review

The new Rolls is larger than the BMW 760Li, the car upon which it’s based, with a wheelbase 85 mm longer and an overall length greater by 187 mm. This makes the Ghost appear to dwarf pretty much anything else on the road (except a Phantom, which makes every other vehicle look like a 3/4-scale model), but the classic coach doors, sleek character lines, (optional) metallic hood treatment and 19-inch wheels give the car a proportionally correct stance.

Another thing about the Ghost: It doesn’t drive like one of the biggest cars on the road, either. Although you’d be hard-pressed to call it a true driver’s car—and, in fact, it’s not as engaging as the 760Li—the Rolls did surprise with its composure in the corners. There’s significant body roll, sure, but the big sedan is a fathom short of being boat-like. (Let’s not forget that this is a Rolls-Royce, after all.)

Under the hood

In terms of performance off the line, the Ghost puts up some serious numbers. Nestled under the hood is a variation of the twin-turbo V12 that powers the BMW 760Li, which in this case has grown to displace a mammoth 6.6 litres, produce 570 horsepower and generate 575 lb-ft of torque. The result is a super-sedan that—despite its considerable heft (2,470 kg)—can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in under five seconds flat.

2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost Review

This exercise is aided and abetted by a very slick 8-speed automatic transmission that performs its task in a nearly seamless manner, making the most of the pulling power of the big V12 and keeping the Ghost rolling right up to its electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. To sum up, this is a surprisingly quick car that will see you exceeding posted speed limits with so little drama, extra attention must be paid to the instrument panel.

To make the driving experience that much easier, there are a number of optional driver aids available, including cameras mounted on all four corners to help when easing out into traffic, a night vision camera to better detect pedestrians and a heads-up display that projects important information onto the windscreen in front of the driver.

2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost Review

Still, a car such as the Rolls-Royce Ghost is not meant to be admired for its acceleration, handling or technical advances, but rather for how it makes you feel like P Diddy when you’re behind the wheel.

The Roll-Royce Treatment

Some of the features that contribute to this feeling include the deep-pile carpeting, chrome door handles, chrome vents with organ-stop plunger controls and four-zone automatic climate control system. The Ghost also sports the flashier, traditional Rolls touches: the retractable Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, power-operated coach doors, 16-speaker Lexicon audio system and gauge set with a power reserve meter in place of the more common tachometer.

2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost Review

As to the options list…well, as they say, you’re only limited by your imagination. But some of the niceties currently found in the sales brochure include a panoramic sunroof and lamb’s wool floor mats, as well as veneered picnic tables and a cool box with champagne flutes for rear-seat passengers. Currently, there are 12 exterior paint schemes for the Ghost, but don’t let that stop you from ordering yours with zebra stripes in any colour under the rainbow.

2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost Review

For all the many amenities contained within the passenger cabin, much of the appeal of the Ghost comes down to two factors: the look and feel of the wood and leather. Everywhere you glance, you see consistent gaps between different elements of the interior, immaculate stitching, carefully chosen grain patterns and surfaces that demand to be touched just for the sake of it.

There’s no question about it: If you happen to have the capital required to own a 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost, you have very definitely arrived.

Learn more – Rolls-Royce Ghost
Mark Hacking is an award-winning car, motorcycle and motorsports journalist whose work has appeared in Azure, enRoute, Intersection, NUVO and Toro, among many others. He is the former editor of Performance Racing News, the former managing editor of DRIVEN, and a member of both the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and the Motor Press Guild of California. An avid racer, Mark is a three-time podium finisher at Targa Newfoundland and, this past season, raced in the VLN Series at the Nürburgring with the factory Aston Martin team. His motto in life: Drive fast, take chances.