First drive: 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II in the UAE
It was in 2009 that the Rolls-Royce Ghost joined the British uber-luxury carmaker’s line-up to finally give some company to the larger Phantom. If it were a lesser brand like BMW, they’d be preparing an all-new model already. But the “new” Ghost Series II has simply received a subtle update for 2015. We spent an entire morning trying to figure out exactly what those changes were, in a media drive around the UAE.
The most obvious change is the front fascia, with reshaped headlights integrating LED running lamps and a slightly-redone front bumper with chrome intake inserts that also happen to improve brake cooling. Apparently the “Spirit of Ecstacy” statue on the bonnet is also leaning slightly more, as is a character line on each side, to emphasise speed. Basically, you’d have to stare really hard to catch the new bits.
The Ghost still maintains its trademark opulence, with acres of wood, leather and lighting elements inside, all customisable exactly to the buyer’s preferences, just like the exterior paint combinations. The door handles and a/c vents are all solid chunks of metal, while the rear doors still close at the press of a button. The only thing that’s changed is a much-needed multimedia system, complete with a touchpad for recognising hand gestures, as well as extravagant new audio options. There’s just about as much space as a typical full-size sedan, even though it’s externally bigger than most, since everything is so heavily padded and chunky.
The 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series 2 comes with the same 6.6-litre V12 engine as its predecessor, producing 570 hp and 780 Nm of torque. Even with peak torque coming in at just 1500 rpm, the Ghost smoothly takes off from standstill rather than spinning tyres like a muscle-car, partly thanks to undefeatable electronic nannies, and partly due to its hefty 2400-kilo weight. It can still reportedly break 100 kph in just under 5 seconds though, but we didn’t get the opportunity to try it out.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost Series 2 comes with an 8-speed auto gearbox without any paddles or manual modes to play with. Instead, the Ghost Series 2 get a new satellite-aided transmission that chooses the right gear based on the road ahead, which worked to great effect in the Rolls-Royce Wraith we tried last year on Austrian mountain roads. On our own mostly-straight roads, we didn’t really notice anything amiss, so maybe the gearbox did its job seamlessly.
Apparently there’s also re-designed front and rear struts, adjusted dampers, new hydraulic rear-axle bearings and a new steering gear. With the optional Dynamic Driving Package that also features a thicker steering wheel, Rolls-Royce says this results in “sportier” handling compared to the original Ghost. Without driving them back-to-back though, it’s hard to tell if that is indeed the case.
The Ghost maintains its composure around corners, with obvious body roll but no noticeable bounciness when straightening out on exit. There’s lots of grip, although you need to make educated guesses with the steering wheel to take advantage of that, given the lack of feedback. The brake pedal is also soft and mushy, so it takes a bit of work to dial in just the right amount of brake pressure.
As for the trademark ride, the Ghost certainly continues to be one of the smoother-riding cars out there. The company is keen to highlight its “waftability,” which would make you think it’s floaty on the highway, but it’s actually buttoned down for the most part, with well-controlled body motions and only the occasional road imperfection making itself felt through the low-profile tyres.
The Ghost Series II retains everything that makes it a Rolls-Royce, and the company has done right by not messing too much with a design that should stand the test of time like that of the Phantom and all its predecessors, some of which we saw on a stopover at the Sharjah Classic Car Museum. A car from Rolls-Royce will never make financial sense, but for those who can afford one, they’re not getting a bad deal.
For prices and specs, visit the Rolls-Royce buyer guide.
Photos by Jorge Ferrari.