Filibustering is a dishonourable writing trick. Having precipitated myself into the warmly welcoming lobby of Rolls-Royce’s Leng Kee facility, I suddenly feared having to disingenuously stammer “most luxurious car in the world” through a full-length article.
After all, I had already gone over the Phantom with a fine-toothed comb. At 5.7m, this extended wheelbase version of the Ghost is even all but the same length as its standard Phantom sibling.
Is this gleaming automotive manifestation of copious wealth but a Phantom by another name? Might it, sacrilegiously, even be a lesser Phantom?
Emphatically not so, it turns out.
The Phantom is a tuxedo, the Ghost, a business suit. That is how Rolls-Royce encouraged me to conceive of the differing roles the two leviathan sedans play in the world.
It stands to reason that if you can afford a 1.4-million-dollar vehicle, you can probably afford a 1.8-million-dollar one. You buy them for different occasions. This Ghost, thus, is no mere baby Phantom.
It makes sense. After all, the world’s towkays want the best of everything, from ballroom attire right down to their Versace bedroom flip flops.
The Ghost, for its part, is no shrinking violet. It sits along the road with panache and presence, drawing admiration effortlessly.
Yet, while the imperiously galactic Phantom is approached almost in silent awe, as one would in appropriate deference to a service at the Sistine Chapel, the Ghost can be trotted up to rather more breezily.
A MORE APPROACHABLE DESIGN
Rolls-Royce’s new “Post Opulent” philosophy moulds the car’s appearance. Eschewing conspicuous vulgarity, the Ghost thus presents itself with grace and, as far as it is possible for something this size, almost subtlety.
The silhouette is svelte, removed of gratuitous blockiness. It is quite the impressive achievement in tasteful design. Much of the fussiness of models gone by has been chamfered smooth, leaving a gleaming, velvety neatness in its place.
A fully aluminium structure enables such deft aesthetics, besides bestowing a remarkable 40,000Nm/deg stiffness and superior acoustic impedance.
Four craftsmen hand weld the body together simultaneously to achieve a perfectly continuous line for marvelling eyeballs to glide over from A-pillar to rump.
With a complete absence of shut-lines, and hence harmonious expanses of smoothness in its flanks, the chrome side window finisher has to act as a rain gutter.
Lesser marques might have left it at that, informed the PR team to conjure appropriate spiel for the brochure, and called it a day.
This is Rolls-Royce, however. They never, ever, do things in half measures. To ensure both elegance and functionality, the design engineers travelled the globe, measuring the size of raindrops so trim can be positioned with exacting precision.
AIMING FOR PRECISION AND PERFECTION
This incredible attention to detail is wrought all over the car. At this end of the market, the absolute littlest things matter.
Merely listening to the story of the car’s acoustic engineering is eye-widening.
Beginning with an expertly insulated sound stage courtesy of the double-skinned construction sandwiching composite damping felts, the utterly finicky elves at Goodwood got to work hunting down the merest auditory offence.
Anything disturbing the peace was ordered re-engineered, from air-con ducting to even the diameter of the prop shaft. Even the fibre optic cables in the Starry Sky headliner are sound-insulated.
Complete silence is disquieting, however, and a “Ghost note” whisper was thus re-engineered back into the car, with every element from seat frame to centre console finessed to the same resonant frequency.
Suffice to say, buy this car and you will have an endless supply of jaw-dropping factoids in neuroticism to one-up even the most fastidious acquaintance.
Comfortable? Absolutely. But a journey in a Rolls Royce is and has to be much more than that.
While mere luxury sedans simply deposit passengers at their destination swaddled and fresh, the Ghost “Cinderellas” its patrons.
While you might have been riffraff before, you emerge a dignitary, with royalty in your step. One radiates butterflies having lifted their exalted bum off the gilded pillows of a Ghost’s rear thrones.
So, tea at an otherwise nondescript café along Bukit Timah Road was made exquisite because I was conveyed there in a Ghost.
Beaming with a full belly, I climb back into the Rolls-Royce, this time in the driver’s seat. This is how many owners choose to expend their miles, incidentally, despite conventional assumptions.
The scene is familiar, and I am put at instant ease. Here is an interior that is suffused with the latest technology, but ease of use remains the dominant priority.
It will not do for a Rolls-Royce to irritate its master. There are no paddle shifters. Instead of a tachometer you have Rolls-Royce’s signature power reserve.
The air-con controls are graded from “Off” to “Soft”, “Medium”, “High”, and “Max” rather than the rather more uncouth bars or numbers. Here is a 5.7m long behemoth that is unthinkingly easy to use.
Just like piloting a Porsche 911 is rewarded with unique sensations specific to the brand, commanding a Rolls-Royce is an unmistakable experience unlike any other.
It is akin to being on a pedestal at the head of the New York Philharmonic in the world’s grandest concert hall. You are not playing the instruments, so the burdens in your hand are but that of the conducting baton and your white velvet glove – all but weightless.
Yet, every inflection produces a perfectly measured response that is powerful and cultured.
As capable as the resolute suspension is, its motions are nevertheless stately. At speed over bumps, it smothers them with some evidence of long wave movement, quickly suppressed.
Yet, this inescapable sense of heft is used to convey overtures of immutable substance. It also contrasts with the discipline and neatness of the car’s gargantuan proportions.
It is this contradiction that makes your internal judge whisper a barely believing “wow”.
“Money cannot buy you happiness” is the pithy refrain. Nonsense. It can buy you a Rolls-Royce, and that is basically the same thing.
Rolls-Royce Ghost Extended 6.75 (A)
ENGINE 6749cc, 48-valves, V12, turbocharged
MAX POWER 563bhp at 5000rpm
MAX TORQUE 850Nm at 1600rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 229.3bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic
0-100KM/H 4.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (limited)
CONSUMPTION 6.37 to 6.58km/L
PRICE EXCL. COE From $1,458,888
AGENT Rolls-Royce Singapore