Full 2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Rolls-Royce Ghost sees only minor changes, such as available premium "natural grain" leather upholstery and headliner, a foot-sweep-operated trunk opener and a relocated (to the roof) telephone antenna.
With a base price starting north of a quarter-million dollars when new, a length of nearly 18 feet and a curb weight equal to that of a full-size SUV, the 2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost probably wouldn't strike you as a "baby," "junior" or entry-level anything. Yet that's what this smaller, less costly sibling to the company's more massive Phantom sedan is often called. Whatever cute moniker you may assign to it, the Ghost is nothing less than a world-class ultra-luxury sedan that lacks nothing in terms of prestige, engineering or appointments.
Should any of your country club associates still kid you about cheaping out, you can remind them that for most folks the Ghost is the smarter choice over the Phantom. With its more "petite" dimensions, the Ghost offers greater maneuverability and parking ease, which make it a better choice as a daily driver. It also feels relatively agile around turns while still delivering a magic carpet ride over the bumps. Given that the Phantom is based on the same platform as the BMW 7 Series, this should come as no surprise. Yet its stately presence at rest and effortless demeanor while cruising at high speeds are unmistakably Rolls-Royce.
Though old advertisements had the company giving engine outputs as "adequate," today Rolls-Royce will happily boast about the brawn under the hood. With 563 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque, the Ghost's mighty twin-turbo V12 even outguns the Phantom's V12 engine. Thusly blessed, this "baby Rolls" can sprint to 60 mph about as quickly as a Mustang GT.
Of course, you'd expect the Ghost's cabin to be handsome, exquisitely constructed and packed with luxury features. Although we'd doubt you'd be nothing less than impressed, it's hard to argue that it's really that much better than what you'll find in a 2013 Audi A8L, 2013 Jaguar XJL Ultimate or 2013 Mercedes-Benz S550. All tick off nearly the same boxes as the Ghost, while costing perhaps only half as much. But fine as they are, none of these other cars is a Rolls-Royce, and even the more expensive 2013 Bentley Mulsanne can't truly match the presence and prestige carried by a car with the Spirit of Ecstasy atop its radiator grille. That the Ghost happens to be a "baby," "entry-level" or "cheaper" Rolls matters not.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost is a four-door, five-seat sedan available in two trim levels: base and the longer EWB (extended wheelbase). Apart from having a 6.7-inch stretch in wheelbase to provide even more room for rear seat passengers, the EWB is similar to the base Ghost.
Standard feature highlights include 19-inch wheels, an active air suspension, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and 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 a panoramic sunroof, leather headliner, drop-down wood picnic tables, twin rear DVD monitors (with a six-disc changer) and multi-adjustable outboard rear seats with further optional massaging and/or ventilation. You can also get a cooler between the seats. The Feature Selection 1 package includes 20-inch wheels, chrome exhaust outlets, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive headlights, "foot sweep" trunk opening/closing, added leather trim, rear picnic tables, door sill plates, a 360-degree camera system and the Driver Assistance Systems One package (detailed below in the Safety section). The Feature Selection 2 package further adds power rear seats, lambswool floor mats, "RR" headrest monograms and the Driver Assistance Systems Three package (detailed below in the Safety section).
Although there are plenty of standard exterior color and interior trim choices to be had, 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 2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost is powered by a 6.6-liter turbocharged V12 that produces 563 hp and 575 lb-ft 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 15 mpg combined (13 city/20 highway).
The Ghost comes with stability and traction control, antilock brakes, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags.
The Driver Assistance Systems One package includes lane departure warning, automatic high beams and a head-up display. The Driver Assistance Systems Three package further adds a night vision camera (with pedestrian detection warning) and active cruise control (with full stop-and-go capability).
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 lambswool mats that will have you taking your shoes off. 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 display screen is hidden behind a wood panel when not in use. The BMW-sourced multicontroller knob is mostly intuitive and includes touchpad functionality. In addition to the expected scroll and select functions, the knob also allows one to "write" characters/commands with a finger as well as "pinch" and "expand" on the controller's touchpad face. Adding a touch of elegance are the cabin's various buttons and knobs that 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. Forgoing tradition (and unlike 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 2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost's V12 is exceptionally smooth and silent. The gentle response from the first bit of gas pedal travel makes for smooth, lurch-free take-offs, 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 about 5,500 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.