Thirty minutes and the view hasn’t changed. The back of a bus and the odd motorcyclist squeezing by. That’s London traffic for you. Stationary.
I’ve little to complain about though, as I’m detached from the hubbub outside, ensconced in an environment of beautiful highly polished wood veneers, the finest leather, toe-curlingly deep carpets and warm chrome. A Rolls-Royce Ghost II specifically.
The II refers to a refresh, this Ghost replacing the hugely successful Ghost launched in 2010. The original’s introduction has kept Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood factory busy since, this refreshed model simply ensuring it continues to meet (or as R-R would say ‘exceed’) customer expectations.
Helping achieve that there’s better connectivity, the seats are all new for greater comfort (I’m here to affirm the optional massage function means no numb bums when sat idly in the capital’s traffic), while those in the rear have been slightly re-positioned to facilitate conversation between back-seat passengers.
Other detail revisions inside include instruments meant to evoke high-end watches and new choices of veneers if you opt to go down the full customisation route. As you probably will.
Outwardly the Ghost II’s changes are similarly subtle. Indeed, you’ll be hard pushed to spot them unless you’re an existing owner. The front LED lights are re-profiled, their new shape now ringed by the driving lights, the bumpers are new, their shape more assertive, while the bonnet now features a ‘wake channel’ running from the base of the Spirit of Ecstasy to the windscreen. The waft line (that’s the one that runs full length along the side) is more pronounced, leaning further forwards says Rolls-Royce, while chrome inserts are added to the front air intakes.
There are new of options of 21in forged alloy wheels to distinguish the Ghost II from its predecessor as well as some new colour choices, though as with any Rolls-Royce the colour choice and personalisation is effectively infinite – if you want it, you can have it.
If the visual revisions are understated, so are the engineering tweaks. The engine, a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 is unchanged, its 570hp and 575lb ft still deemed adequate. Certainly the ability to reach 62mph in just 4.9sec underlines the point.
But the engine’s strength remains its torque, those twelve cylinders, aided by the turbo, generating a massive 575lb ft and all from as little as 1500rpm. That, allied to its near silent operation, gives it a feel not dissimilar to an electric motor, with effortless go from just the lightest brush of the accelerator.
The most significant change to the drivetrain centres around the gearbox. The eight-speed automatic now benefits from the same satellite guidance of the Wraith, the gearbox in conversation with the navigator in the sky to ensure the correct gear is chosen for any given environment; so the Ghost II knows you’re about to start accelerating up a slip road, climbing a gradient, or slowing for a tight bend. Goodness knows how we all used to manage…
Likewise the driver of the Ghost II is not expected to operate anything as undignified as a paddle-shifter, the gearbox working almost seamlessly from the ‘Drive’ position – a very occasional hesitation on downshifting aside.
Other significant revisions are centred around the Ghost II’s dynamics. The suspension features re-designed front and rear struts, new steering gear and revised dampers for increased cornering ability. The Ghost II is not a car likely to be hustled in bends, but its control when asked to do so is remarkable given its weight, only the steering letting it down a bit.
The new thicker rimmed wheel requires plenty of input when cornering due to its relative slowness to respond. It’s only really noticeable when you up the pace, or on tighter bends, and it doesn’t take long to get used to, but it’s noticeable – particularly out of town. A touch more tricky are the brakes, which (on my test car at least) needed a firmer-than-expected initial push, and then proved difficult to glide gracefully to a stop. Your driver will be earning their keep if they manage stops without the odd head nod from the passengers.
If the brakes need concentration the ride compensates with the sort of incredible ability to smother without being remote, only the nastiest of surfaces troubling the Ghost II’s occupants. Even then it’s just the merest hint of a bump, and the car’s most appealing facet is its remarkable ability to isolate the outside world, creating a island of calm wherever you drive, or are driven in it.
That’s its core draw, and one that’s probably worth every penny of its sizeable price tag – if you can afford it, and particularly if you work in London, or any sprawling, busy city and the helicopter is grounded for the day.
If luxury is your thing, there really is no better way to travel, except perhaps a Phantom, but then you’ve probably got one of those too…
Power to weight: 241hp/ton
Top speed: 155mph (governed)
Engine: 6.6-litre V12
Power: 570hp at 5250rpm
Torque: 575lb ft at 1500rpm
Transmission: Rear-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Wheels: 21in alloy
On sale date: Now