With its lounge-like proportions and quality artisanship from Rolls-Royce, the Phantom Extended Wheelbase has an unforgettable presence and announces your arrival
Making a mark in this world is one thing, but becoming one of the most respected marques takes more than a little extra. The Spirit of Ecstasy is recognised instantly, and in pretty much any part of the world, as the symbol of Rolls-Royce.
The last generation-VII Phantom may have rolled out of Goodwood on the last day of January this year, but that's only a sign of more hope. What that means, until the next big Roller arrives, is that the Ghost Extended Wheelbase is the longest, most luxurious model you can have right now. And, after having a go in it, we can vouch for its exceptional craft and waft-ability.
The Ghost's cabin is an exhibition of quality craftsmanship that goes into building the car
Rolls-Royce is known for their nomenclature related to the afterlife: names like Ghost, Wraith and Phantom succeed the likes of the Silver Ghost, Silver Wraith and Silver Spirit. It has presence. Oh, yes. Massive presence. Especially in the extended wheelbase avatar with its 5.6 metre length. The expansive front grille dressed in the finest chrome and the angled slats give it an almost animated effect on the move.
The Ghost runs 19-inch wheels with 255-section Good Years running a profile low enough to maintain composure at its limited top speed of 250 km/h, and high enough to offer a supple ride, in harmony with its air suspension.
Every command at your fingertips, even from the plush rear seat
Get in the spacious rear seat and close the door with the help of a button and you're in your own little world. The plush leather upholstery and shag carpeting feels soft and inviting. It's easy to unwind with the outside world tuned out and a relaxing track playing on the premium sound system with 18 individually tuned speakers. The 20GB hard-drive allows for seemingly endless storage of high-quality audio. The rear seats also allow multiple adjustments and the centre armrest has all the controls you would need — seating, climate and entertainment — at your fingertips. Remember, if there's anything you would like different, Rolls will do it your way. Embroidery or custom stitching? A particular shade you fancy? Everything from the head restraints to the umbrellas in the doors can be created just as you want it. At a price, of course.
Twin-turbo V12 possesses equally exceptional levels of performance and refinement
The first thing that harks back to the days of classic Rolls-Royce cars and their immaculate finishing is the extensive wood trim — sourced from select trees and precisely matched to ensure symmetry and seamless design flow around the cabin. Apart from that, everything you see from the clock to the trim accents, and everything you touch feels a class above and painstakingly crafted.
Another detail we're not used to seeing is the 'power reserve' dial. Unlike a conventional tachometer, Rolls-Royce cars don't count revolutions per minute. They simply display what percentage of the deluge is on tap by means of this dial. Start up the V12 and the short crank is followed by an even quicker spirited thrum, which then settles into a silent idle. The power reserve at this point is 100 per cent.
The rear seats are the place to be in order to feel truly special. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
Bringing the power is the N74 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 that strikes just the right balance between V12 aggression and subdued shriek together with unparalleled refinement. Peak power is 570 PS coming in at 5.250 rpm, with the now higher 820 Nm of peak torque arriving low at 1,500 rpm and staying well past 4,000 rpm. The eight-speed automatic makes fascinating work of the ample twist and allows for effortless acceleration. The Ghost will sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in less than five seconds. Also part of the equation is the satellite-aided transmission that uses GPS data to determine the car's position and prepare the powertrain according to what lies ahead on the road.
Now, the Ghost Extended Wheelbase weighs two-and-a-half tonnes, but when we put our foot down, we saw the reserve dial drop to 60 per cent as the car instantaneously lunged forward, even cosseting us deeper into the seat, settling down and collecting itself without a furrow of the brow as we lifted off. For most part, it's a relaxed waft while feathering the throttle. It doesn't need prodding and rarely will it be driven on the limit.
Furthermore, if you must ask, Rolls-Royce claims an efficiency of up to 10 km/l on the highway and 5.8 km/l overall. The Ghost is designed to be the ultimate step in the world of automotive luxury. It's a statement that not just looks exquisite, but feels just as exquisite too. It stands apart, but it also stands the test of time. It personifies special.
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