Two big new features when it comes to performance and handling are the all-wheel-drive system and the all-wheel-steering. With 571PS (420kW), 850Nm (629lb ft) of torque and so much mass, it would be all too easy for the wheels to spin or start lunching the tyres. The all-wheel-drive system means that, whatever the condition, you really shouldn’t have any slip at all unless you really wanted to provoke the car and had a lot of space to do so. But nothing about the driving experience encourages you to be a yob, and what’s more, even with all-wheel-drive and sufficient performance (0-62mph takes 4.8 seconds, a fine figure for a car that weighs 2,490kg) you never feel rushed. I have a hunch the Ghost could be quicker off the line (look at how fast the all-wheel-drive and similarly heavy Bentley Flying Spur can accelerate), but what would be the point of that?
All-wheel-steering, meanwhile, improves the car’s turning circle by pointing the front and rear wheels in the opposite direction at speeds below 40km/h (24.9mph) and in the same direction above that speed for extra stability and a reduction in weight transfer. At both ends of that scale you can feel the system working, with five degrees of steering in either direction at the rear axle, and particularly at higher speeds, while there is some lean, there’s a less weight moving around than you might expect.
Another feature, and one of the most interesting, is a new and patented upper wishbone damper. Although the springs and dampers do a very good job of turning the road into a seemingly never ending pillow of marshmallows, there were, according to the Ghost’s engineering team, little bumps in the road that they couldn’t seem to protect the cabin from. So one weekend an engineer had an idea, and came in, out of hours, to work on something. The result was a 3kg weight on the upper wishbone at each corner which is free to move as the suspension moves, effectively absorbing energy that would otherwise just go up and into the car. Data, as well as ‘blind’ tests, proved the system worked. The result is a ride that is noticeably less choppy than the previous Ghost, and a system that will no doubt make its way onto the Cullinan and Phantom, too.
All in all, the drive is as you’d expect it to be. The steering wheel is thin and communicates very little, but, with a Ghost, that isn’t necessary. The performance is more than adequate (especially when there’s very little wind noise to give you a gentle reminder you’re actually going quite quickly) and the ride near-perfect – what more could you want? And although the Ghost is heavy and, relatively speaking, a big, big machine, behind the wheel it doesn’t feel intimidating, too large or unwieldly. It makes wafting from corner to corner rather than darting quite good fun.