Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has pulled back the sheet on the 2021 Ghost sedan, giving a first glimpse and key details of what to expect from the new model.
Be that as it may, the unmistakable Pantheon grille still resides up front, only now it features discreet 20-LED downlighting. Rejected superficiality indeed.
As is Rolls-Royce’s way, the exterior styling evolves themes from the first Ghost, launched in 2009. The stepped headlights now adopts a slimmer, straighter profile, with the deeper outer edges now marked out where LED running lamp illumination stops.
Befitting the Ghost's more athletic positioning, the grille is lower in profile than that of the Phantom, but moves higher up when seen next to the previous Ghost. The grille's upper edge now forms the leading edge of the bonnet, in place of the first Ghost’s rolled bonnet edge.
Rear themes are more subtly massaged, with faster-angled tail lights and new white indicator inserts bordered in red, replacing the previous all-red lenses.
Although not shown in the initial batch of official images (but available on the Rolls-Royce configurator), two tone finishes are still available, with the grille surround, bonnet, roof, D-pillars and boot lid available in a contrasting shade compared to the body sides and bumper aprons.
Under the bonnet the new Ghost adapts a version of the 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 engine, with a bespoke engine map for more dynamic performance. The engine is rated at 420kW at 5000rpm and 850Nm on tap from 1600rpm.
Acceleration to 100km/h is a claimed 4.8 seconds, making the new Ghost 0.1 second quicker than its predecessor. Kerb weight rises slightly from 2360kg to 2553kg.
Compared to the previous Ghost, power holds steady, but torque rises by 30Nm. Fuel use rises slightly, from 14.3 litres per 100 kilometres in the previous car to 15.0L/100km (NEDC) or an indicated 15.2-15.8L/100km on the newer WLTP cycle.
Rolls-Royce claims near-silent running with a tuned air intake to “reduce engine presence in the interior suite”.
As before, the engine mates to an eight-speed satellite-aided automatic transmission, which uses map and topographical data to pre-select the appropriate gear for driving conditions.
The Ghost leaves the BMW 7-Series platform of the first-generation car behind and moves to a Rolls-Royce-exclusive 'Proprietary Aluminium Spaceframe Architecture', following in the footsteps of the flagship Phantom limo and Cullinan SUV, – abandoning the previous Architecture of Luxury naming convention in the process.
The new engineering platform allows a 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution, with front suspension mounting points pushed forward and the engine positioned behind the front axle line.
The new Ghost measures 5546mm from nose to tail, or 89mm longer than its predecessor. Width grows by 30mm to 1978mm. The wheelbase is unchanged at 3295mm while height grows 21mm to 1571mm.
Alongside the larger Phantom the Ghost is 216mm shorter and 41mm narrower, has a 257mm shorter wheelbase and sits 75mm lower.
The Ghost employs a 'Planar Suspension System', designed to enhance the brand’s legendary magic carpet ride traits. Planar taken from the mathematical term to describe a flat surface, or plane.
The Ghost utilises a world-first upper wishbone damper for the front suspension, working in concert with ‘Flagbearer’ road scanning cameras which can prepare the suspension for surface changes at speeds of up to 100km/h.
Suspension retains air strut assemblies with continuously variable electronic control, a five-link rear axle, and self-levelling functions.
Power opening assistance has been added to the Coach doors, adding to the previous auto-close function. Occupants can hold the door handle while electric assistance opens the door to a desired point, before releasing the handle.
Not quite the proximity sensing full-auto feature of something like a Tesla Model X and it’s Falcon Wing doors, but a small advancement nonetheless. As befits Rolls-Royce custom, integrated umbrella holders can be found in the rear doors.
Technological enhancements include LED and laser-light headlights for up to 600 metres of illumination, bolstered by safety and assist systems like a self-parking function, day and night pedestrian and wildlife alerts, driver attention monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and lane change warning, 360-degree cameras, and collision and rear cross traffic warnings.
Despite the emergence of partial self-driving technologies on cheaper BMW vehicles, the German-owned British marque makes no partial autonomy claims.
Rolls-Royce also claims the new Ghost, in development, was so quiet in its interior that it could be disorienting. While it’s highly unlikely engineers created a rolling anechoic chamber, interior frequencies have been aligned to elicit a soft whisper for greater travelling comfort.
The Ghost is home to over 100kg of sound deadening materials, features a double-skinned sandwich constriction floor and bulkhead, has a space frame constructed from complex rather than flat forms to reduce resonant frequencies, and during development had individual components tracked and modified to reduce their audible impact.
All helpful stuff for the staging of a 1300-watt, 18-channel, 18-speaker audio system featuring magnesium-ceramic compound speaker cones. Both conventional speaker cones and exciter speakers – bonded to the Starlight Headliner to create a giant speaker surface – are used.
Interior trimming is via 388 individual leather panels, sourced from 20 half hides. Rolls-Royce even manages to take a swipe at Bentley’s predilection for stitchwork diamond quilting, claiming “complex, busy stitchwork has been eschewed for scant but incredibly long and perfectly straight lines.”
In lieu of The Gallery dashboard display space found in the Phantom, the Ghost deploys an illuminated fascia that extends the LED-lit motif of the Starlight Headliner on the dash facing panel.
With 850 individual stars, and an illuminated Ghost logo, lit by 152 LEDs passes through a 2mm thick light guide onto 90,000 laser-etched surface dots. The effect is said to replicate gentle twinkling as occupants eyes move around the cabin.
With the cabin lighting off, the illuminated surfaces are completely invisible – secured behind multi-layered tinted lacquer, to appear the same as other high-gloss interior elements.
Australian launch timing and pricing are yet to be disclosed for the 2021 Ghost, but with a $625,000 plus on-road costs as the base price for the current model, and before dipping into the extensive range of Bespoke customisation options, expect an increase when the new model arrives.