Rolls-Royce’s flagship sedan is an automotive design masterstroke, and just shy of being a sentient being.
As any reader who has been a guest at the launch of a new Rolls-Royce model will be aware, the marque’s top brass like to compare being shifted from A to B in one of their illustrious vehicles to “a magic carpet ride”: a smooth, gliding-on-air experience that makes tearing up the tarmac in a hypercar feel like an all-too-intense massage on a South-East Asian beach.
The new Ghost, as well as its rigid alu-minium spaceframe and all-wheel drive/all-wheel steering, boasts a world-first ‘pla-nar suspension system’ – a technology so intelligent (it analyses GPS data and the findings of optical sensors and manipulates the air springs accordingly), it could apply to the authorities for legal human status. As such, it soaks up bumps and potholes with imperious nonchalance on any thor-oughfare along which its 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 engine propels it.
You don’t just feel the poise whilst in motion in the latest Ghost: thanks to the marque’s ‘Formula for Serenity’ initiative – an acoustic micro-engineering assault on unwanted noise which includes 100kg of sound-absorbing materials, double-glazed windows, lightweight insulation foam in the tyres, smoothed air conditioning ducts and specially tuned damping units for the seat frames – each drive is a blissfully tranquil experience.
There’s plenty more to make the current Ghost the most desirable iteration to date of a vehicle which, according to Rolls-Royce, is the most successful model in the company’s 117-year history. There’s its elegantly minimalist profile, a result of design tweaks that are in keeping with what the marque refers to as a new era of “post-opulence”: in the words of company CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös, the “purest expression of Rolls-Royce yet” which “distills the pillars of our brand into a beautiful, minimalist, yet highly complex product that is perfectly in harmony with our Ghost clients’ needs.”
There’s the plethora of minor details: the way the down-lit Pantheon grille discreetly beams Rolls-Royce iconography onto the ground; the sparkling light show that is the dashboard at night, a 152-LED affair which features 850 stars surrounding an illuminated nameplate on the passenger side; there’s the way that elegant front grille is lit up softly, as if smiling warmly at passers-by.
Above it, of course, stands the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine: somehow, on this model, looking more ecstatic than it ever has since it was registered as Rolls-Royce intellectual property over a century ago. Peter Söderberg.