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Preview: 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost

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by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img Jacqueline Borchardt for ADLX ::: 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost @ Miller Motorcars

ON foot, we’re weaving our way through a parking lot full of Bentleys and Aston Martins.

We brush past the new Mulsanne which sits – gape mouthed – like some Basking Shark ready to swallow people, cars, buses, and ancient hemlocks whole.

Speaking of trees, a veritable forest was felled and fitted to the consoles and inside-door-panels of every chariot on this lot. It’s a woody, chrome-plated, and hide-bound environ.

And it is wonderful.

This is Miller Motorcars in Greenwich, Connecticut. Our salesman greets us with firm shakes of hand. He’s young, sharp dressed and attitude-free. He says he watches Top Gear and telegraphs a love for cars.

As we proceed, there’s just one snag. Company regulations forbid him from having his name or his picture published. This is a shame as we soon discover that he’s excellent at his job. Surely excellence is worth publishing?

We find the 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost in “Darkest Tungsten” over “Moccasin”. It’s lovely, if understated for a  contemporary Rolls.

I comment that the greeting scent reminds me of BMW.

“But it’s not BMW leather,” our salesman assures us.

We hear the familiar BMW chime BLOOM-BLOOM-BLOOM as he says this. For the record, the Ghost uses the BMW 7-Series platform but only shares 20% of its parts with its Bavarian cousin. Rolls-Royce seems at pains to emphasize this fact.

The sales rep. opens the rear door for Jacqueline, who sits behind me armed with a camera.

“The coach doors open to 83 degrees, which is wider than Phantom,” he notes, closing the door. He adds that, “cabin space is similar to Phantom thanks to steel body construction instead of aluminum. It takes a lot more aluminum to achieve the same rigidity as steel.” More aluminum beams mean less occupant space.

Spatially, the two Royces offer similarly cavernous interiors – this despite the Ghost’s more, err, modest dimensions. The Ghost is more than a foot shorter than the Phantom (212.6″ vs. 229.6″) but larger than anything this side of Grandpa’s Town Car.

rolls royce ghost miller motor cars

I pilot the Ghost through town and then onto 95 towards Stamford. We progress in marvelous serenity.

Larger egos may need to stick with the Phantom, though, as the new sedan blends disconcertingly with traffic. Surely a car of this wattage should announce itself in bolder tones? Still, the Ghost’s form and function leaves you feeling empowered as you gaze past the long bonnet towards the Spirit of Ecstasy which stands proud like a trophy.

You note that steering response is sharper. Throttle response, quicker. Combine the two and you understand how the Ghost is – in Rolls terms – a driver’s car. A driver’s car, even if the experience seems dampened through rolls of vicuña. Still, our ride’s a little bumpy by Rolls standards; bumps keep vibrating through to the front seats.

I ask if the 19″ rims are the culprit. Not likely, Mr. Salesman says. He’s experienced more or less the same ride in other Ghosts.

That aside, splendid isolation is the name of the game. That is until the remote exhaust note rumbles in the distance like angry hounds when your right foot finds the floor. At that point, you discover a new appeal to the most powerful Rolls-Royce yet – a 563 horsepower V12 that makes 575 lb-ft of torque at just (!) 1500 rpm.

With all this torque and very little drama, you simply bolt football fields ahead.

So, how many Ghosts will Rolls make?

“Rolls-Royce expects to sell 2,500 Ghosts this year. [Miller's] sold three and has orders for two,” he says.

Even if Ghost commissions eat into Phantom sales, this figure will almost triple Goodwood’s annual volume which positions Rolls-Royce in better competition with Bentley and on a surer trajectory for the road ahead.

Jacqueline takes her turn behind the wheel and pilots us back to Miller. She comments on how manageable the car feels and marvels how every control operates smoothly. Reposing from an electrically reclined backseat, I agree.

Which leads me to summarize that on first impression, the Ghost is an engaging, opulent, and eminently capable new Rolls-Royce. And quite distinct from BMW, too.

2010rollsroyceghost and gunnar heinrich

Ed. note: Special thanks to Miller Motorcars.