With the global economic downturn in full swing while the Ghost project was still being finished, you could have understood if Rolls-Royce shelved the whole idea, originally code named RR4.
But along came Geneva this year, and the RR4 had become the 200EX concept. Geneva gave us our first good look at the car, and with select previews around the world, we had a glimpse into the interior.
Here, for the first time, are the official Rolls-Royce images of the production Ghost. With them, we get a feel for the crucial details. As we know, when the Ghost name was announced, so was the spec for the unique-to-Ghost engine.
Powered by a brand new, direct injection, twin-turbocharged 6.6-litre V12, it produces a whopping 420kW and a staggering 780Nm. But it's the way in which the torque is delivered that really impresses.
From an idle of 1000rpm, around 550Nm is being produced, and 500rpm later Ghost is making its full complement of torque. Not only that, but the torque curve remains perfectly flat until 5000rpm where the power curve meets up with it, and keeps the car hurtling along.
Those phenomenal figures are good for a 0-100km/h sprint of 4.9 seconds, easily besting the Phantom in both performance, and driveability.
Smoothness is a Rolls-Royce hallmark, and to that end a shift-by-wire, eight speed ZF automatic has been employed which not only blurs the lines between gears, it also shifts to the highest gear possible, riding that immense torque wave, and keeping fuel consumption down.
Yes, despite the fact that it has a twin-turbo V12, and weighs 2360kgs unladen, it still manages a combined cycle of just 13.6-litres/100km, and puts out 317g of CO2 for every kilometre travelled. However the time and money spent in engineering is what really impresses.
Unlike the BMW 7 Series from which the Ghost takes its initial basis, the car is a steel monocoque, meaning the strength is not just under your feet. This allows interior space to be maximised, and frees up room for a more luxurious cabin.
To tone down NVH levels, a double front bulkhead is used, preventing engine noise from intruding. 4.9 metres of seam weld and braze are employed as well as 6,988 spot welds throughout the car's frame. Needless to say, it's immensely strong.
From this strength, engineers have been able to tune the suspension to what's being called the world's best ride. Aluminium and air suspension is combined, along with constantly varying dampers.
We've already read about the 2.5 millisecond reaction time from the suspension at each corner and the fact that it will readjust the ride if a passenger shifts from one seat to the other. But what you wouldn't have known until now is the tolerances which Rolls uses to weed out differences in the dampers.
Each shock absorber comes with a set value, much like a frequency that it operates on. For any one car that is built, all four shock-absorbers must be the same frequency, or plus and minus a certain value.
In other words, if the frequencies doesn't match, that damper won't be used and gets put back on the shelf. This ensure the highest accuracy for tuning the ride, and the most consistent result.
The car can also be raised and lowered by 25mm in what Rolls calls a "lift and kneel" function.
“Our challenge,” says Engineering Director Helmut Riedl, “has been to preserve the prerequisite levels of comfort while delivering the most modern, dynamically interesting drive ever in a Rolls-Royce.”
Inside, traditional and modern techniques have been combined to create a cabin that is both comtemporary, yet true to Rolls-Royce's heritage. Teflon coated umbrellas are housed in the front doors, with the rears opening in suicide fashion, a la the Phantom. Don't fret about trying to reach the handles once inside - the press of a button will close them for you.
The extent to which Rolls-Royce goes to make sure Ghost's interior is as blemish free as possible is just mind-blowing. The leather is taken from cows raised on barb-wire-free paddocks, as well as being drum-dyed, rather than painted with polyurethane like so many other cars. This means the colour goes right through the skin, and keeps the skin soft, and crack-resistant.
The same level of detail goes with the veneers. A single log is used throughout any one car, ensuring consistency of grain, colour and thickness.
Laminated glass with climate control glazing prevents both noise, and heat, with solar compensation availble from the four-zone climate control. Lounge seating with massage function and cooling is also an option. And if you'd like a coolbox with integrated champagne flutes, that's available, too.
The new LCD screen and 600W stereo is channelled through 16 speakers, with two subwoofers mounted in the floor. USB, MP3, iPod - it's all there if you want it. A theatre option, which controls everything except what affects the driver, is also on the options list.
What caught my eye, however, are the paint finishes. Certainly, you'd expect nothing less than perfection from the gloss level, and of course that's what you get. A full week is spent painting and preparing the Ghost's body. Five hours alone are spent hand-polishing the final coat.
However the optional Silver Satin bonnet is new to Ghost. Using a metallic silver paint set under a layer of matte lacquer, it's one box you really want to tick, as it embodies the Rolls-Royce look.
Optional features of the Ghost include voice control for just about everything, top, front-side and rear cameras to judge blind intersections, and ground level objects, Night Vision camera, lane departure warning, head-up display, high-beam assistance (which switches to low beam automatically), Brake intervention, and radar based cruise control.
Yes, the Ghost is not only an immense achievement in the economical climate we find ourselves in, but also an immense engineering achievement.
“Ghost is one of the most revered names in automotive industry,” said Tom Purves, CEO, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “It evokes images of adventure and technical innovation. The first cars to bear the Ghost name were known not only for impressive dependability and refinement but also great flair and style.”
As you can see from the pictures, that style is alive and well. The price for all this luxury? According to Rolls-Royce Australia's representative, Bevin Clayton, Ghost will be positioned above other four-door British cars, but just under Phantom.
A firm price for Australia hasn't been decided yet, but CarAdvice has been told to expect between A$650,000-750,000 depending on final Australian specification and options.
For more photos and video, click here.