The Rolls-Royce Ghost is Automotive Post Opulence

by Petrol Mum

‘Post Opulence’ is a movement defined by authenticity of materials rather than overt statement, which has established roots in architecture, fashion, jewellery and boat design. Since the introduction of the first Rolls-Royce Ghost in 2009 the marque’s Luxury Intelligence Specialists have gathered vital information about developing behaviours in how Ghost clients use their motor car, how they commission it and how they perceive Rolls-Royce.

The result is a vehicle that can be enjoyed either from the front or back seats depending on the owner’s mood. Open the power assisted doors and you are transported away on the legendary Rolls-Royce magic carpet ride. For new Ghost, engineering specialists redesigned the motor car’s suspension completely to deliver what is called the Planar Suspension System. Named after a geometric plane, which is completely flat and level, the system is the result of ten collective years of testing and development to create a sense of flight on land never before achieved by a motor car.

The sense you feel when driving the Ghost is of wafting along the road with the bumps ahead of you seemingly being swept away before you. Created through physical engineering developments as well as sophisticated scanning and software technology, the Planar Suspension System incorporates a world-first Upper Wishbone Damper unit above the front suspension assembly, creating an even more stable and effortless ride. The five-link rear axle benefits from the same self-levelling high-volume air suspension technology, as well as rear-wheel steering. Both axles are managed via the marque’s Planar software. This also governs new Ghost’s other chassis technologies, including the all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, stability control and self-drying braking systems, to ensure the motor car is reacting as one to changes in surfaces or grip levels while also maintaining a spirited, dynamic personality.

The Planar software also manages information that requires new Ghost to proactively adapt to intrusions in the road ahead. The first of these technologies is the marque’s Flagbearer system. Evocative of the men who were required by law to carry a red flag ahead of early motor cars, this technology consists of a stereo camera system integrated in the windscreen to see the road ahead, adjusting suspension proactively rather than reactively up to 100km/h. The second is Rolls-Royce’s Satellite Aided Transmission system, which draws GPS data to pre-select the optimum gear for upcoming corners. The result is unprecedented levels of ride comfort and control for a motor car.

Client feedback asking for near-instant torque and near-silent running led the marque to further develop the Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine. A bespoke Ghost engine map was created to ensure ample performance for this dynamic motor car, delivering 563bhp/420kW and 850Nm/627lb ft of torque to the all-wheel steer, all-wheel drivetrain. Commensurate with clients’ expectations, maximum torque is available from just 1600rpm – only 600rpm above tick-over. To further refine its already remarkable acoustic properties, the air intake system incorporated larger porting to reduce engine presence in the interior suite. To experience the full power of this near silent V12 engine you press the ‘Low’ button on the gear selector to the right hand side of the steering wheel and depress the throttle.

A clear understanding of clients’ changing luxury consumption patterns and a broader view of emerging design movements informed the marque that the interior aesthetic should pursue the same minimalist principles as the exterior. Busy details and superficial embellishments were rejected not only to create a more relaxing refuge, but to better celebrate the material substance and maximise the impact of bespoke colour personalisation.

“Today we set new standards in customer centricity by creating a completely new motor car for a unique group of Rolls-Royce’s clients. These business leaders and entrepreneurs demand more of their Ghost than ever. They require a new type of super-luxury saloon that is dynamic, serenely comfortable and perfect in its minimalism. Ghost is this product.

The only components that we carried over from the first Goodwood Ghost were the Spirit of Ecstasy and umbrellas. Everything else was designed, crafted and engineered from the ground up. The result is the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars at the launch in September.

Once you are nestled into the luxury leather seats you simply press a button on the centre console if you are in the front or on C-pillar if you are in the back and the doors close for you. From the outside this is done by pressing the button on the door handle. On-board longitudinal and transverse sensors, as well as G-force sensors fitted to each door, allow the same speed of operation regardless of hill or driveway angles.

Creating an environment defined by reduction, simplicity and elegance is an extremely complex endeavour. It also relies on sourcing the very finest materials; leathers, woods and metals left unembellished will invite the scrutiny of these most discerning of clients. To this end, each of the 20 half hides used to create the interior suite of new Ghost are subject to the automotive industry’s most exhaustive quality control checks to ensure that each of the 338 panels used – however visible – is of the very best quality. The smell and feel of the leather used is something that needs to be experienced first hand to truly appreciate. Every detail has been thought about, right down to the umbrella matching the interior colour scheme chosen by the client.

The seats in the Ghost I drove had a massage function throughout, something my children particularly liked. My son also commented that the head rest felt like a feather-filled pillow. For younger children there are two ISOFIX/two rear tether child seat restraint points and clients can get a car seat in the same interior leather colour so that they match. But if you are going to have small children in your Ghost I wouldn’t recommend a white leather and white carpet interior. If adults are enjoying the backseats they will appreciate the fridge to keep the Pommery Champagne chilled to perfection and of course each back seat passenger has an individual screen for work or pleasure.

Wood sets for new Ghost are available in an open-pore finish, bravely showcasing materials in their naked form. Indeed, two new finishes have been developed specifically for the motor car. The first is Obsidian Ayous, inspired by the rich versatility of colours found in lava rock. The second is Dark Amber; this introduces subtle glamour to the interior suite by integrating veins of fine aluminium particles into the dark wood.

My daughter was transfixed by the Starlight Headliner that not only twinkles, but also features shooting stars that randomly appear above you. The Illuminated Fascia of the front dash was developed over the course of two years and more than 10,000 collective hours, this remarkable piece brings an ethereal glowing Ghost nameplate, surrounded by more than 850 stars, into the interior suite of the motor car. Located on the passenger side of the dashboard, the constellation and wordmark are completely invisible when the interior lights are not in operation.

As well as creating a serene environment for clients to enjoy in near silence, Rolls-Royce’s pursuit of acoustic perfection created an unparalleled sound stage for the marque’s Bespoke Audio engineers. These men and women were embedded in the architecture’s design phase to create a sound system for new Ghost, engineering audio quality into the very fabric of the motor car.

The new Ghost incorporates a resonance chamber into the body’s sill section; the frequency response of the Bespoke Audio speaker component defined the chamber’s size and shape. In essence, this transforms the motor car into a subwoofer. A powerful amplifier controls 18 channels (one for each speaker), providing a 1300W output. State-of-the-art optimisation technology and high-precision magnesium-ceramic compound speaker cones enable infinitesimal changes in sound with an outstanding frequency response. For new Ghost, exciter speakers were used alongside more conventional cone-type speakers. These units are bonded to the surface of an object, imparting vibration from the exciter’s moving mass directly into it – in the case of new Ghost, the Starlight Headliner, in effect transforming the motor car’s ceiling into a large speaker.

Two active microphones in the cabin also enable an adaptive function, detecting the absence or overemphasis of frequencies before triggering the amplifier to adjust the loudness of certain frequency ranges to counteract it. The Bespoke Audio system makes the most of the highest quality uncompressed music, providing an exceptional listening experience.

The collective result of ‘Post Opulence’ is the new Rolls-Royce Ghost, which has just been named Top Gear Luxury Car of the Year for 2020. This is a motor car precisely tailored to its clients, that appears perfect in its simplicity, that is underpinned by remarkable substance, that is less but better. Prices start from $628,000 plus Stamp Duty and on-road costs, but actual pricing is highly dependent on customer specification. Contact your preferred Rolls-Royce dealer for more information.

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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