Full 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost Review
What's New for 2011
The Rolls-Royce Ghost gets the full "Bespoke Commission" treatment for 2011, meaning you can customize this entry-level Rolls to nearly the same degree as the fancier Phantom. The Bluetooth and entertainment systems have also been updated.
The "baby" Rolls-Royce. The "entry-level" Rolls-Royce. The "cheaper" Rolls-Royce. All of those adjectives are factually correct with regard to the 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost. It's indeed much smaller than the Phantom, costs much less and competes within a different class of luxury sedan. These adjectives, while true, are also quite relative, however. See, this baby still weighs almost 5,500 pounds. This "entry-level" Rolls-Royce is still, in fact, a Rolls-Royce. And while it's cheaper than a $400,000 Phantom, you're nevertheless looking at a $250,000 automobile.
In other words, there should be no shame associated in driving a 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost despite the knowledge that there is an even bigger and fancier model roaming the world. In fact, "driving" is a key word since the Ghost is intended to be more frequently driven by its owners. Its smaller dimensions, improved handling and less ostentatious image (again, relative) make it a better choice as a daily driver.
There should also be no shame in knowing that the Ghost is based on the plebeian BMW 7 Series, as that is one of the finest automobiles in the world. But really, you'd never guess by looking at the two cars, much less sitting in or driving the two cars. The Ghost can feel Germanic in the way it's balanced for both ride and handling, but there is still a stately quality to the way it wafts down the freeway that you won't find in a 7 Series.
There's also the immediacy of its acceleration, regardless of where you are. Old-school Rolls-Royce used to be coy with its horsepower figures and simply say power was "sufficient." The sentiment is certainly still true, though Rolls is now only too pleased to announce that the Ghost's twin-turbo V12 produces 563 horsepower, good enough to bring nearly 5,500 pounds of baby Rolls-Royce from zero to 60 mph in roughly the same amount of time as a Mustang GT.
So the 2011 Ghost is meticulously engineered, more enjoyable to drive than its bigger brother and muscle-car quick. We probably don't need to tell you that its cabin is beautifully appointed and filled with the latest gadgets and gizmos. However, as cheap as the Ghost is compared to the Phantom, it's hard to make the case that it's really that much better than an Audi A8L, Jaguar XJL Supersport or Mercedes-Benz S600. All tick off nearly the same boxes as the Ghost, while costing as much as $130,000 less. Heck, even the Bentley Continental Flying Spur is 68 grand cheaper.
Of course, none of those cars is a Rolls-Royce, and even the new, more expensive Bentley Mulsanne can't truly match the presence and prestige afforded a car with the Spirit of Ecstasy on its radiator grille. That it happens to be a "baby," "entry-level" or "cheaper" doesn't really matter.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost is a four-door, five-seat sedan available in a single trim level. Standard feature highlights include 19-inch wheels, an active air suspension, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, automatic xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, power-closing rear "coach" doors, leather upholstery and trim, a pair of umbrellas stored within the front doors, heated front and rear seats, 10-way power and massaging front seats, four-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a 16-speaker sound system with a CD/DVD player, satellite radio, digital music storage, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Options are seemingly limited by the buyer's imagination and finances, as one may choose such items as drop-down veneer picnic tables, twin rear DVD monitors (with a six-disc changer) and multi-adjustment outboard rear seats with further optional massaging and/or ventilation. You can also get a cooler between the seats. The Driver's Assistance Systems package adds lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, a head-up display and a night-vision camera. Although a dozen exterior colors, along with a choice of eight leather and five wood trims, will be offered as standard fare, those seeking more exclusivity will be able to customize their Ghost any way they see fit through the company's "Bespoke Commission" program.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost is powered by a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 that produces 563 hp and 575 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rolls-Royce quotes the 0-60-mph sprint as taking less than 5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 13 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined.
The Ghost comes with stability and traction control, antilock brakes, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. The Driver's Assistance Systems package adds a lane-departure warning system, automatic high beams, a head-up display and a night-vision camera.
Interior Design and Special Features
Exotic wood veneers and metallic accents are used liberally throughout the cabin, where passengers are cosseted in the finest leathers. Though plush carpeting is, of course, standard, one may opt for genuine lambs-wool mats that will have you taking your shoes off in favor of car slippers. As nice as the Ghost's interior is, however, it's really only incrementally better than what you'll find inside the latest Audi A8, Jag XJ or Benz S-Class.
Despite the dizzying array of high-tech luxury features, the Ghost presents a relatively clean dash and console. Part of the reason is that the multi-display screen is hidden behind a wood panel when not in use. The BMW-sourced multicontroller knob is mostly intuitive (unlike the earlier versions of BMW's iDrive) and elegant buttons and knobs resemble the keys of a flute or saxophone.
In keeping with tradition, backseat passengers are pampered with well-shaped and supportive seats that also provide a clear view ahead. A large fold-down armrest and a measure of privacy afforded by the thick, rearmost roof pillars are two other benefits to sitting in the rear. Unlike tradition (and the Phantom), however, the Ghost can be equipped with adjustable, massaging and ventilated outboard rear seats. Considering the Ghost's size, the trunk's 14-cubic-foot capacity is unacceptably modest.
The 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost's twin-turbo V12 is exceptionally smooth and silent. The benign response from the first bit of throttle travel makes for smooth, lurch-free takeoffs, but lean into it and you unleash a smooth, steady, turbine-like thrust that continues to swell effortlessly into triple-digit speeds. The eight-speed automatic transmission is spot-on as well.
The active air suspension goes about its duties with similar transparency, smothering bumps and ruts that would have you grimacing for a harsh impact in lesser cars. Despite a curb weight of 5,455 pounds, the Ghost feels smaller than it is, and the light and precise steering makes maneuvering the big car a breeze once you've acclimated to its dimensions.
At speed on an open highway, the Ghost quietly and rapidly covers ground, with passengers feeling that perhaps they are ensconced in a private jet or luxury railway car. On a curving road, the Ghost will roll a bit at lower speeds, but as the pace gathers, the suspension firms up and road feel remains acceptable.