By Keith Buglewicz
It's absurd to think of a $300,000 car as "entry level," yet when compared to the larger and far more expensive Phantom, the 2016 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II really is the lower-priced option. But the Ghost isn't the lower-end model because it's any less a Rolls-Royce, far from it. Instead, it's the Rolls-Royce for owners who actually want to drive themselves, rather than be driven. Available in two lengths, the 2016 Ghost offers enormous power from a twin-turbocharged V12, an interior that is as opulent as anything you can imagine, and cutting-edge technology like an infrared night-vision camera to see what human eyes cannot. The Ghost is the least expensive Rolls-Royce, but at nearly $300,000 before options, it still costs more than a house.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost is the perfect choice for someone who wants all the prestige and luxury that comes with the Rolls-Royce name, but still wants a car that's small enough to be considered a daily driver. Plus there's the incredible variety of individualization available through the company's Bespoke division.
Oddly, this less expensive Rolls-Royce Ghost has actual automotive competition, from the Bentley Mulsanne and Flying Spur to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Maybach. All of them offer a better driving experience, and the Mercedes is a marvel in sophistication and technology. Of course, none is a Rolls-Royce, so...
The Rolls-Royce Ghost received a handful of upgrades last year, so the car is largely carryover for 2016. Changes include automatically folding outside mirrors.
The flagship Rolls-Royce Phantom is for the ultra-rich who want to be chauffeured. While it's certainly up to the task, the 2016 Rolls-Royce Ghost is equally at...
... home letting its owner enjoy time behind the wheel. But you don't drive the Ghost so much as experience it. From the aroma of fine leathers and woods, to the feel of these exquisite materials in your hands, the Ghost is a sensory feast from the moment you sit behind the wheel. The feeling of solidity and mass is unmistakable from behind the wheel, and part of the appeal of the Rolls-Royce brand. Yet keeping in mind this is a Rolls-Royce, the Ghost is actually nimble. The 563-horsepower V12 engine whispers to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds, and the suspension -- especially with the Dynamic Driving Package's adjustable shocks -- does an admirable job of keeping the ghost planted in corners.
If a luxury is defined as something that's desirable in spite of its pointlessness, then the Starlight Headliner is one of the most luxurious things ever put into an automobile. Its 1,340 individual fiber-optic lights glow above your head in a simulation of a starry night, and it looks stunning.
BESPOKE PERSONALIZATION OPTIONS
You don't so much buy a Rolls-Royce as you commission one, and that unparalleled level of personalization is one of the key reasons to even buy the car. Take that Starlight Headliner noted above. Through Bespoke, you can request that the lights be arranged in whatever manner you wish.
There is a combination of high-tech modernity and old-world craftsmanship in the 2016 Rolls-Royce Ghost that's nearly impossible to find in other cars, Rolls-Royce offerings notwithstanding. You'll find the best leather, the finest woods, and an undeniable stateliness to the interior beyond what you'll likely ever see in an automobile. While the front seats are eminently comfortable, the rear seats have a "lounge seat" configuration that gently angles the seats toward each other for easier communication. Extended-wheelbase Rolls-Royce Ghost models have over a half-foot more legroom on top of the standard model's already-generous space.
There's nothing small about this "baby" Rolls-Royce, except when compared to the huge Phantom. The standard-wheelbase version comes in at 212.6 inches in length, while an extended-wheelbase (EWB) variant arrives at 219.3 inches; that's just under and over 18 feet in length, respectively. The massive grille, slab sides, soft curves, and even the tiny headlights, seemingly lost in the sheetmetal, add to the impressiveness of the car. A "wake channel" in the hood seems to emanate from the Spirit of Ecstasy's wings at the front, and the rear-hinged rear doors create drama -- and protection -- for arriving VIP passengers.
The expectation is that the prospective customer of a 2016 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II views the car as a blank canvas. And what a canvas: There are a V12 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission, multiple cameras, separate climate zones, a head-up driver's display, and an audio system with a 10-channel amplifier, and panoramic sunroof (standard-wheelbase models). A rotary dial on the armrest controls functions such as navigation and audio, and will be familiar to users of BMW's iDrive infotainment system.
Even before you head to the Bespoke shop, the 2016 Ghost offers numerous options that can inflate the price an additional $200,000 without breaking a sweat. They include everything from umbrellas that store in the doors, to the Dynamic Package that includes larger wheels, chromed exhaust pipes and revised gearbox tuning. A driver's-assistance package includes night vision, lane-departure warning and active cruise control. The Entertainment Package brings a pair of monitors built into the back of the front-seat headrests and a Bespoke Audio system. The Individual Rear Seat option retains the 3-row bench but makes the outboard positions electrically adjustable.
The 5,500-pound Rolls-Royce Ghost is a lot of car, so it's fitting that parent company BMW has fitted it with a lot of engine. The 6.6-liter V12 puts out 563 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque, the latter from just 1,500 rpm for a broad path of power. The enormous engine makes this a surprisingly quick car, reaching 60 mph from a standstill in less than five seconds on its way to a governed top speed of 155 mph. The 8-speed automatic transmission isn't just smooth-shifting, it actually uses GPS satellite data to read the road ahead and anticipate the proper gear needed, which sounds cool, but in our experience it didn't work any better or worse than a normal setup.
6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12
563 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm
575 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/21 mpg
The sky is blue, water is wet, and the 2016 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II is expensive. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at a little more than $300,000 for the standard model, and nearly $334,000 for the extended-wheelbase version. And that's before adding options, which can push the price to more than the $500,000 mark...and that's BEFORE you personalize it through the Bespoke experience. Comparing base prices -- because why not -- that's less expensive than the Rolls-Royce Phantom, about the same as a Bentley Mulsanne, about $85,000 more than a 12-cylinder Bentley Flying Spur, and $100,000 more than a Mercedes-Maybach S600. It's also $100,000 more than the median price of a U.S. home. Residual values aren't really available, but the reality is that given its rarefied starting price, even modest depreciation would sheer its value by tens of thousands of dollars rather quickly.