And, why you’ll have trouble deciding which seat to sit in.
That might be the biggest quandary in the 2021 Rolls Royce Ghost: the front seat cabin is thrilling, from the elegantly layered materials that give it the refined feel of a couture atelier-built handbag to the V-12 engine that sends this super luxe sedan sailing along the highway. But the rear seat might be the best first class cabin ever. Even though you have to pop your own Champagne – a Champagne chiller and chilled glasses are yours at the touch of a button – you’ll be opting for road trips rather than jet travel. Just sit back, recline your seat and let the plush RR headrest pillow cradle your head as the massaging seats set your mind free and melt away your tension.
In either seat what you won’t experience are unexpected rude moments on the road: bumpy rides due to potholes or rough pavement, shift-shock (when a car’s transmission abruptly adjusts), road sway and bounce that will make you or your passengers carsick. And that is the brilliance of the redesigned Rolls Royce Ghost, which has a starting price of about $332,500; the model we test drove the options described this story came to about $440,000. The Ghost’s name was inspired by an early code name for its gliding silentness, and it continues to fulfill its prophecy with an innovative new drive system that further eliminates bumps and enhances the feeling of smooth sailing.
You’ll Love This (We Did): Post-Opulence Means Innovation for the Ultimate Experience
Rolls Royce has dubbed its next era of design and engineering to be “Post Opulence.” I was really excited to hear this because, really, how much more luxurious can this brand get? It’s already the pinnacle. But that poses a challenge: What else can the brand’s designers and engineers do to further the mission of excellence in luxury?
Glad you asked.
It starts with creating an even better on-road experience. To do this, the company developed a “planar” system, a radar/camera/GPS detection system for the plane that you’re traveling, essentially the road ahead. The system detects potholes, speed bumps and other issues that might spill your Champagne and adjusts the suspension to deliver a smooth transition over the trouble spots. Then, it uses GPS to to identify grade changes — inclines, descents and dips in the road— where the call will need more power (or less) and adjusts the transmission to minimize any impact on passengers. All this, paired with a first-ever wishbone suspension damper system, all wheel drive and all wheel steering, ensures the smoothest ride possible. So go ahead, sip your Champagne (or sparking cider; it’s illegal to have open alcohol in a moving vehicle in the United States) without hesitation. It won’t splash back in your face as the engine powers up to climb a hill.
Another Reason to Be Glad: The Heritage of Rolls Royce is Alive and Well
Long a brand that prides itself on only slightly tweaking its designs one generation to the next, preserving its silhouette and identity, the 2021 Ghost is immediately identifiable. Subtle changes include chrome trim that now incorporates ‘water channels’ that sweep water away from the roof and doors and a more streamlined design that is a bit sleeker, less boxy than its predecessor.
Inside, you’re surrounded by heritage details. Beyond the incredible layers of leather — which buyers can customize to personal taste and style — you’ll find a Starlight headliner, the backlit ceiling cover that illuminates like an amazing starry sky; doors that close with the touch of a button—forget reaching out to grab the door to close it yourself; coach doors that open from the center of the car; an umbrella tucked into each rear door panel—not just a handy storage spot but also a great place to put a wet umbrella (and yes, it has drainage). The 2021 Rolls Royce Ghost also maintains its signature Pantheon grille, signaling not only the most classic architecture, but also the most enduring in strength and style; and the Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture continues to crown the Ghost’s hood, as fitting as a figurehead on the bow of a great ship.
The Delight In the Driver’s Seat (and the Reason to Choose it over the Rear Seat)? The Drive Experience
For me, ease and expedience is important in a car. I want to get in and go, and feel elegant, comfortable and in control. And that was the experience behind the wheel of the Ghost. Every function was easy to find and intuitive to use. From the gear selector lever on the steering column, similar to what you find in Mercedes Benz or Tesla, to the infotainment system which can be controlled via the center console dial or by touching the screen, everything is at your finger tips. Dashboard displays, the head up display and the infotainment system are easy to see and customize.
And, the doors have been reengineered to open more easily and — one of my favorite details in this car — to hold the opening position until you close it. So, park on a hill, open the door and it stays in place instead of falling back on you. Goodbye shin bruises and awkward exits, hello magic Ghost that holds the door open for you.
Put the car in drive and Ghost’s newly designed V12 twin turbo engine with 563 horsepower 627 torque offer instant acceleration and breathtaking speed. Be careful. It can creep up on you; you won’t feel like you’re really going that fast.
You also won’t feel like you’re driving a large luxury sedan with the weight of the larger cabin and longer body. That is partially due to the all-new design built from aluminum, a first for Rolls Royce, which makes the Ghost lighter for better fuel economy and a more effortless drive feel.
Forget Driving. This is the Real Magic of Ghost
In the rear seat you see why this is the car of choice for the rich and royal. It’s refined. It’s roomy. It’s socially distanced. I took a drive with a colleague in the rear seat; we had been keeping our distance outside all day and felt comfortable inside the Ghost, too. The MEPs system, a new micro-environment purification system, helped us feel even more at ease: it is designed to filter all cabin air every couple of minutes removing micro particles like allergens, bacteria and even viruses (though Rolls Royce rightly makes no claims about health benefits). It’s nice to know that the air in this car really is refined.
Rear seat passengers can be pampered by a number of features, all options on the Ghost. These include the Champagne chiller and vented massaging seats, a personal infotainment system, a ‘picnic tray’ table, the ability to control the Bespoke sound system, and USB-C fast charging outlets (tucked into the door panels, in case you don’t find them in the usual place) to keep your devices powered.
But probably the most amazing thing about the rear seat (or suite, as Rolls Royce calls it) is the Starlight Shooting Star headliner. A soft fabric covers the ceiling of the Ghost and through it you can see a star-filled sky and the occasional shooting star. To relax, enjoy a glass of Champagne (while the car is not moving, mind you; it’s illegal to have open alcohol in a moving vehicle in the United States) and watch shooting stars is enough to wash away the stress of any day.
So maybe I won’t have trouble deciding which seat I want to sit in. To be in the driver’s seat commanding the Ghost while it’s in motion and relaxing in the rear seat when it’s not might be the best luxury of all.
What We Listened to in the Rolls Royce Ghost
The redesigned 2021 Rolls Royce Ghost is not just the pinnacle of luxury, it achieves new standards in refined performance. This is what you should listen to in this car. No yacht rock clichés here; this is bespokely engineered fun.