Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 Rolls Royce Ghost

Specifications prices Modifications and Image 2011 Rolls Royce Ghost
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.

Up front, the dashboard is an imposing array of wood and chrome. There's an iDrive-like controller that shows the influence of Rolls-Royce owner BMW, but other similarities are few. Technological features include a navigation system with graphics similar to BMW's latest version of iDrive, a head-up display and a 16-speaker stereo with full USB/iPod integration.

The Ghost's recessed backseat sits well behind the door openings, meaning many passengers would require a hand to make a graceful exit. Two- and three-seat rear configurations can be ordered. Both rows of seats feature leather from cows raised in fields free of barbed wire to minimize imperfections in the leather. Each car's wood inlays come from the same tree to ensure consistent coloration as the wood ages.

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.

Though stately by anyone's standards, the Ghost's lines are sleeker than the brand's larger, more upright Phantom sedan. The size comparisons, of course, are all relative: At 212.6 inches long, the Ghost stretches more than 10 inches past most minivans.

A retracting Spirit of Ecstasy statuette sits on the hood, while the rear-hinged doors can power shut at the touch of a backseat button. The front doors have storage nooks with Teflon-coated umbrellas, and the grille, windshield frame and hood can come finished in lacquered silver paint. Nineteen- and 20-inch wheels are available, with self-righting centerpieces that display Rolls-Royce's double-R logo right-side up no matter the position of the wheel.

The Ghost truncates one of the great names from Rolls-Royce’s past, the Silver Ghost, a moniker that attached itself to the full line of classically reliable and smooth 40/50s produced from 1906 to 1926. These were the cars that prompted The Autocar and Motor to call Rolls-Royce “The Best Car in the World.” The new Ghost will bring that legacy to bear on the luxury-sedan class, reordering the segment’s hierarchy dominated by the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, Mercedes S-class, and BMW 7-series. This steel-monocoque car might weigh as much as the Bentley (nearly a staggering 5500 pounds) but also produces an intimidating 563 hp and charges from 0 to 60 mph in a claimed 4.8 seconds. Moreover, it will achieve total pricing supremacy when it gets here in early 2010, with a projected MSRP of about $245,000 to start. Some might argue that this makes it more of a competitor to the forthcoming Bentley Mulsanne than to lesser Bentleys. We prefer to think of the Mulsanne as an insufficiently expensive competitor to the Phantom.

Because Rolls is now under BMW’s stewardship, and because using common parts is essential for a manufacturer’s economies of scale (but mostly because Rolls-Royce admitted that the Ghost shares 20 percent of itself with the BMW 7-series, specifically, the V-12–powered 760Li), it’s tempting to think that the new car is simply an upsized BMW, a 9-series with an available metallic hood. That characterization is a little unfair to this new sedan. The 20-percent commonality hides in the climate-control system, the electrical architecture, parts of the floorpan, and some engine components. Both cars’ twin-turbocharged V-12s come from the same engine family, but the Ghost’s is stroked to 6.6 liters (up from the 760’s 6.0) and gets some revised internals such as a new crank. And whereas the BMW has only air springs at the rear, the Ghost uses adaptive air suspension at all four corners. The Rolls needed a more regal seating position, larger-diameter tires, and coach-style doors, which necessitated more changes. The new overall tire diameter meant new steering and suspension kinematics, and the raised seating position and center-opening doors meant reengineering the donor platform for crash safety. 
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.

Exotic Materials Up the Wazoo
Chief designer Ian Cameron has delivered a shape that is immediately recognizable as a Rolls-Royce, even though the car does not have the traditional Parthenon-type grille. Its sleeker expression of the chrome-vaned radiator housing is in keeping with the car’s trimmer proportions relative to the Phantom. Grounded by a terrifically powerful stance, the Ghost has fast-raking pillars and bodywork that tucks in around the wheels. The restrained, almost featureless body sides mask a subtlety of proportion and line that makes the car look much smaller than it actually is. As ever, the long prow dominates, with a perfectly proportioned dash-to-axle ratio.,,

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