In 2009, Rolls-Royce announced a new addition to its portfolio that offered something entirely different to its flagship Phantom. Rolls-Royce Ghost was created in response to a whole new generation of clients, both in age and attitude, becoming the most successful model in the marque’s 116-year history.
Extensive research by the Rolls-Royce design team found that modern owners of Rolls-Royce motor cars sought a more modest and minimalist, less ostentatious, expression of the brand that still represented the perfection in design, engineering and craftsmanship that the marque has always stood for. From the very early stages of its introduction, the Ghost was more often self-driven than chauffeur-driven.
The only components that have carried over from the very first Ghost to the 2021 Ghost are the Spirit of Ecstasy and umbrellas in the doors. Everything else for the 2021 Ghost was designed, crafted and engineered from the ground up.
The new Ghost delivers to a shifting attitude in the way success is expressed. Named ‘Post Opulence’ by the design team, it is characterized by reduction and substance that is limited, intelligent and never overstated. “This philosophy is the antithesis of ‘premium mediocracy’, referring to products that use superficial treatments, such as large branding, busy stitching and other devices that create an illusion of luxury by dressing products lacking in substance in a premium skin,” cites the press statement.
Post Opulent design aesthetics translate to an outer body rendered as one clean, expansive piece, flowing seamlessly from the A-pillar, over the roof and backwards to the rear of the car, recalling the seemingly one-piece coach built Silver Dawn and Silver Cloud models. To achieve this, four craftsmen hand weld the body together simultaneously to ensure a perfectly continuous seam.
Even the Spirit of Ecstasy sits atop the hood “within her own lake of bonnet,” meaning she’s not attached to a separate panel on the new Ghost. With fewer lines and design restraint dictating every decision, the back of the Pantheon metal grille bars on the front end are brushed, to make the 20 LED lights housed underneath less reflective, subduing the effect and perfecting the restrained glow desired.
“Less is more” might hold true when it comes to clean design, but the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet is nothing less and so much more than any motor car ever built. The hallmark “Magic Carpet Ride” is made even more stable and effortless due to engineering methodologies never before applied to a production vehicle; this what its buyers will rationalize first when they shell out north of $300,000 and more likely even north of $400,000 once all is said and done.
Rigid aluminum spaceframe architecture, first used on Phantom, then Cullinan, now underpins the new Ghost. Its Planar Suspension System is the result of ten collective years of testing and development to “create a sense of flight on land.” An Upper Wishbone Damper further improves the continuously variable, electronically controlled shock absorbers and the self-levelling high-volume air strut assembles. The Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine is paired to an all-wheel steer and all-wheel drivetrain for near-instant torque and near-silent running, while a low center of gravity is maintained to aid in cornering dynamics.
Ghost’s Flagbearer system and Satellite Aided Transmission are managed as one through a bespoke Planar software system that uses a four-camera system with panoramic view, all-round visibility and helicopter view to read the road ahead and prepare the suspension system for any changes in road surface. LED and laser headlights, day- and night-time wildlife and pedestrian warning; alertness assistant; active cruise control; collision warning; cross-traffic warning; lane departure and lane change warning further enhance safety, while self-parking technology adds modern convenience.
All aluminum, laser-welded doors offer not only weight benefits and remarkable stiffness, but the material has a lower acoustic impedance than steel, improving cabin ambience. Self-closing doors have always been a Ghost signature, but doors can now be operated by a button on the dashboard and on the C-pillars of rear doors, allowing the doors to be opened with power assistance.
Inside, it wouldn’t be a Rolls-Royce without the sourcing of the very finest materials, with “leathers, woods and metals left unembellished will invite the scrutiny of these most discerning of clients.” The design team adds that, “complex, busy stitchwork has been eschewed for scant but incredibly long and perfectly straight lines.” The 2021 Ghost introduces a world-first innovation, illuminated fascia that subtly echoes the Starlight Headliner with ethereal glowing Ghost nameplate, surrounded by more than 850 stars, proving that post opulence restraint doesn’t mean the absence of exquisite surprises on the new model. An industry-leading high-resolution head-up display; Wi-Fi hotspot and Ghost’s Microenvironment Purification System (MEPS) also impress.
Adding together the aluminum construction, with a higher acoustic impedance compared to steel, to the already near-silent Rolls “Formula for Serentiy” meant that the interior became almost completely silent—too silent, according to the design team, to the point that it was disorienting. To overcome this, the designers elected to create a ‘whisper.’ The soft undertone of almost imperceptible sound waves are tracked and modified as needed for the perfect sound balance inside the cabin. The pursuit of acoustic perfection also means the Starlight Headliner, is not only beautiful it also effectively transforms the ceiling into a large speaker.
The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost truly captures the ethos of the marque’s founder, Sir Henry Royce, who said, “Take the best that exists and make it better.”