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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rolls-Royce Ghost

2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost Alpine Trials Centenary Collection

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is a hyper-luxurious four-door sedan that serves as the entry-point to the brand's range. Starting at $260,000, it's anything but entry-level, competing with the Bentley Flying Spur, Aston Martin Rapide, and, for some buyers, the BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, and Mercedes-Benz S Class.

Based closely on the 200EX concept car originally shown at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show and unveiled as a production car later that same year, the Ghost went on sale in 2010 for the 2011 model year as a somewhat softer, more classic luxury sedan. While the Rolls-Royce Phantom had forged a distinctive (and extreme) retro-contemporary look for the British luxury icon—and is the no-holds-barred way for the rich and famous to arrive with a chauffeur at the helm—the Ghost follows that same style but makes it a little more accessible.

Inside, the Ghost has rich leather, fine wood veneers, and real metal chrome, along with plenty of high-tech luxury items to coddle and impress. And Rolls-Royce has reached into BMW's stash of advanced-tech and active-safety features, so the Ghost comes with items like night vision, lane departure warning, active high beam headlamps, and a surround-view camera system.

Just as with other Rolls-Royce Phantom models, the Ghost can be ordered on a 'bespoke' basis—with just about any custom color, trim, or feature possible, provided you're willing to wait a little longer and have the extra budget for it. And if you're considering this car, of course you would.

Although some of the Ghost's mechanicals are BMW-derived—and the Ghost is somewhat related to the BMW 7-Series sedans—it lives up to the Rolls-Royce expectation of torquey, smooth, and strong, with its 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine making 563 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque. A ZF eight-speed automatic transmission grabs the right gear, almost seamlessly, through rear-wheel drive, and a full air suspension with variable damping control and active anti-roll features—and an aluminum, multi-link layout—gives the Ghost decent handling for such a heavy (nearly 5,500 pounds), large car yet the refined, isolated ride that you'd expect in a Rolls. Overall, performance is quite impressive, with 0-60 mph acceleration in just 4.8 seconds and a top speed limited to 155 mph. Yet its EPA fuel economy ratings are 13 mpg city, 20 highway.

For 2012, Rolls-Royce released a Ghost EWB model, stretched 6.7 inches versus the standard Ghost, with most of that extra length going to back-seat space. In 2013, the Ghost's starting price rose to just over $260,000.

At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, a coupe counterpart to the Ghost arrived, bringing back with it the Wraith nameplate. The suicide-door, fastback coupe is Rolls-Royce's most powerful car ever, at 616 horsepower.

The 2013 Shanghai Auto Show saw the arrival of a new special-edition Ghost, based on the Silver Ghost of the 1913 Alpine Trials. It is the first Bespoke-created car to be based on a Rolls-Royce heritage car.

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