HIGH ON THE HIGHWAY: The Rollys-Royce Ghost EWB sports a panoramic sunroof as well as a theatre system
As soon as the light turns green to let us turn left, the impatient proletarians behind us start honking. Little do they realise that there is not enough space for a Rolls-Royce to squeeze through. A traffic policeman sees the car, clears the traffic in a hurried manner and peers into the rear seat expecting to find a VIP. Instead, he finds my photographer Ashley, sprawling around in luxury.
Yes, when you are in a Rolls-Royce, you are a VIP, even if you are just a poor journalist. People expect either an Amitabh Bachchan or a Vijay Mallya to be gracing the car. So the excitement of spotting a Rolls is as much as the excitement of finding out who is travelling in it.
And Indias super-rich now have a new car to add to the awe-inspiring fleet of beauties crowding their garages. In this world, big numbers is big business. Speed, performance, size and even the sticker price — the bigger the vital statistics, the bigger the bragging rights. And with all these in mind, the new Rolls-Royce Ghost (with an extended wheelbase or EWB) comes with all the right credentials.
The EWB version is 170mm longer than the standard Ghost, the rear legroom has been increased from 1075mm to 1245mm and the car has gained 30kg in weight. But you cant tell the EWB from the standard Ghost unless you put them side by side. The extra 170mm has been absorbed into the design without disturbing the Ghosts elegant proportions.
So how do car buffs tell a standard Ghost from an EWB? Take a look at the doors. The rear door is slightly longer, by 35mm to be precise, than the front. The EWB also gets smaller door mirrors because there were complaints about the earlier ones being too big and the wheels are a different design too.
But its on the inside that the difference is much more apparent. The EWB Ghost offers more legroom than the more expensive, standard Phantom. The fact that the Ghost EWB costs much less than the Phantom actually makes it more value for money, if you can associate such a term with a Rolls. The standard stuff on the EWB are things that you have to pay extra for in a normal Ghost, like the panoramic sunroof, theatre configuration comprising two individual 9-in TV screens, a polished wood table and rugs made of wool. The car offers everything the pampered plutocrat would want. Only the more expensive Phantom beats this in giving you a sense of seclusion and isolation from the chaos of the outside world.
Which brings us to the next point. What is it like to drive? This is a question of pure theoretical interest, since in India the only person who drives a Rolls is the chauffeur. And if you are wearing a suit and tie, youre definitely the chauffeur. But the Ghost has been billed as a drivers Rolls-Royce. So how much of the Ghosts driving dynamics, if you can use the term for a Roller, has been impacted by the extra 170mm and 30kg?
There are no changes to the Ghosts drivetrain or chassis. Its the same 563bhp 6592cc twin-turbo V12 driving the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox and air suspension with electronically adaptive damping. The 170mm extra length hardly makes any difference to what is already a big car. And even the extra weight has not dimmed the driving experience. For such a large and heavy car, the Ghost is capable of phenomenal acceleration when called upon. This 2420kg car will hit 100kph in 5 seconds, is deceptively rapid, and you have to keep an eye on the speedo to tell you how quickly youre covering the continent.
But Rollers are not built to be chucked around corners with their wheels smoking and tail hanging out, and the Ghost is no exception. However, if you keep things neat and tidy behind the wheel, the Ghost will respond with surprisingly swift and tidy transitions around bends. Its good enough to give the chauffeur a day off.
The Ghost has been a chart-topper for the British marque. Last year alone it sold 2,200 of them. With the Ghost EWB, Rolls can beat that number this year. And whats next? One assumes that the good folks at the RR factory will roll out a line of body styles like the Phantom. So rest assured that when the Ghost Drophead and Coupé are launched, there will be tons of action on offer.
ROLLS-ROYCE GHOST EWB
Price: Rs 3.05 crore (ex-showroom, India)
Kerb weight: 2420kg
Engine: V12, 6592cc, twin-turbo, petrol/ front, longitudinal
Power: 563bhp at 5250rpm
Torque: 79.53kgm at 1500rpm
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic