Rolls-Royce Ghost

Why the Rolls-Royce Ghost is as good as it gets

James Martin

Have you ever noticed how there are no pilots among Premier League footballers? That's a bit weird, given how rich they are and how popular flying is with rock stars, film stars and City boys. You'd think being young, loaded and blessed with brilliant spatial skills would have footballers rushing for their wings, but the only one I've ever heard of was Michael Owen buying a helicopter. What's stopping the rest of them?

You could say they're too thick but I don't buy that. You don't have to be a genius to fly - I'm learning, after all. You could blame herd mentality: they all seem to have the same kind of cars, the same kind of wives - scared to stand out from the crowd? There's something in that. But mainly it's because when you're flying a plane, no one can see you through the windscreen.

James Martin and the Rolls-Royce Ghost

The quality is astounding. If I can say 'value for money' on a car that's nearly £200,000, then the Rolls-Royce Ghost is it

Let's face it, the one thing all footballers like is being noticed. They love those paparazzi shots where they're caught sticking their Selfridges bags in the back of the conspicuously double-parked car, and to make sure they're noticed they always go for the biggest, most expensive motors on Earth: Hummers, Escalades, Bentleys, Ferraris. It's all about status. So why do none of them ever drive Rolls-Royces?

The planes thing I can live with, but you'd think status-obsessed men on £100,000 a week would be all over the ultimate symbol of power, wealth and refinement. Becks has a Phantom out in LA, but I've never heard of a 'baller in a Roller over here. It must be frustrating for Rolls-Royce, because rival Bentley has been doing a roaring trade in Continental GTs to footballers.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost

Low sill height means you step into the car rather than climb in

And so we have the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Clearly designed to appeal to the GT crowd, this smaller, faster, lighter Rolls is set up to be far more of a driver's car than the chauffeur-oriented Phantom.

People called it the 'Baby Rolls' while it was in development but to me it still felt the size of a luxury cruise liner as I glided through the factory gates at Goodwood. First I headed down the road to the airfield where my training plane lives - the one pictured. It's great fun but I think I prefer the Ghost.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

The dash is brilliantly simple: three large dials for speed, petrol and power reserve and next to them the best sat-nav and media system in any car I've tested

Let's start with the body. Rolls-Royce are the only people who call the front of the car the 'prow', and the whole thing does have the feel of a yacht - the type with massive thrust and a billionaire on board.

Part-assembled on the same German production line as BMW's 7-series, everything that makes it a Roller happens at the clean, quiet Goodwood workshop. It takes 60 people 20 days and 2,000 operations - fiddly jobs like hand-welding the double front bulkhead (to keep engine noise out of the cabin) and then hand-sanding - until it's completely perfect.

Rolls-Royce Ghost
Rolls-Royce Ghost
Rolls-Royce Ghost

V12 engine Spirit of Ecstasy the clock in the veneered dash (right)

The quality is astounding. If I can say 'value for money' on a car that's nearly £200,000, then this is it. The paintjob takes seven days. The leather is from eight bulls guaranteed never to have bumped into a barbed wire fence. Even the umbrellas in the doors are faultless.

For everything this car can do, the dash is brilliantly simple: three large dials for speed, petrol and power reserve and next to them the best sat-nav and media system in any car I've tested. There's a head-up display, night-vision cameras, lane warning alert...

Rolls-Royce Ghost

Clean dials in the uncluttered layout

Seriously, it does everything but make you a cup of tea, and your passengers in the back could probably do that off their built-in drinks tables. You can certainly have a champagne fridge installed. They've got TVs back there, too, plus the same vented seats as the driver, which blow hot or cold air under your bottom.

At the back is a vast boot which, like the doors, opens electronically. The front has a gorgeous bonnet in bare metal (it's actually painted and lacquered to perfection) hiding a massive BMW V12 engine... which brings me to the big di fference between this and its bigger brother the Phantom: 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. This is the most powerful Rolls-Royce ever made.

This is no Alan Sugar waft-machine, it's a sports car - better yet, a supercar. I reckon if you got rid of the 155mph limit this thing could hit 200mph with ease. The power just flows in like a jet plane. Corners can be taken so directly, as the settings in the car all but eliminate body roll. Get rid of the passengers and you can drop the air suspension into a sportier attitude and have some real fun - otherwise, it performs as any Rolls should do, with that patented glide. This is the best new car I have ever tested for Live, including Ferraris, Astons, Lamborghinis. It's just a dream.

I don't know what it would be like to own a Ghost but as I handed it back after my day's joyride I noticed the Spirit Of Ecstasy disappearing back into its electronic recess and remembered the romantic story behind the silver statuette, involving a lord and his secretary who drowned in a German U-boat attack. Do things like that mean anything to footballers? I don't think so. Maybe that's why they shop elsewhere.

Their loss. For people with a soul for motoring, this is as good as it gets.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost

Rolls-Royce Ghost



Engine 6.6-litre V12

Power 563hp

Max torque 780Nm at 1,500rpm

Top speed 155mph (limited)

Transmission Eight-speed automatic

Fuel consumption 20.8mpg

CO2 emissions 317g/km

Standard features 19in alloys with self-righting centres, dynamic stability control, dynamic brake control, cornering brake control, Curve Speed Limiter, anti-roll stabilisation, intelligent air suspension, Xenon headlamps, rear lounge seat, four-zone climate control, deep-pile carpets, door-housed umbrellas, 600W 16-speaker sound system with 12.5GB memory

Optional extras 20in alloys, Silver Satin bonnet, night vision, head-up display, active cruise control with Stop & Go, camera system, Brake Intervention, navigation system, panorama sunroof, rear TV/DVD players, DAB tuner, picnic tables, individual rear lounge seating, ventilated seats, massage seats, rear cool box with integrated champagne glasses


Rolls Royce revives Ghost name for new model

Rolls-Royce announced today it is to revive one of its famous old names for a new model.

Previously known simply as the RR4 or the 'Baby Rolls', the new car will be called the Rolls-Royce Ghost.

Similar: Rolls Royce's 'baby' Rolls, launching next month, is  reported to be similar to the new 'Ghost' model due out later this year

Similar: Rolls Royce's 'baby' Rolls, launching next month, is reported to be similar to the new 'Ghost' model due out later this year

Classic: The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost from the 1920s

Classic: The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost from the 1920s

The company's chief executive, Tom Purves, said: 'Production of the 6.6-litre, eight-speed gearbox vehicle will begin at Rolls-Royce's plant at Goodwood, West Sussex, later this year.'

The Ghost name was used by the company between 1906 and 1925, with nearly 8,000 cars of that name produced, most of them at the Rolls' headquarters in Derby.

Mr Purves said today: 'We are delighted to formally announce the Rolls-Royce Ghost. It is one of the most revered names in the automotive industry, evoking images of adventure and technical innovation.

'The name reflects this new model's breadth of abilities. The first cars to bear the Ghost name were known not only for impressive dependability and refinement but also great flair and style.

'This car will be the first in a new generation of models to carry this evocative name and will give us two pinnacle product lines - Phantom and Ghost.'