‘You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” observes a neighbour. SEEN a ghost? I’ve just driven one — a Rolls-Royce Ghost EWB — and while it doesn’t leave me pale with fright, it does bring on a certain shade of green. Envy, I think.
My wife, Pat, and I were celebrating our 50th anniversary, a milestone statistics say only five per cent of married couples reach. That means a couple of five percenters got to live like one percenters, if only for a couple of days.
When Patrick Kirkwood of Ferrari Maserati Roll Royce of Alberta handed me the key to the most luxurious automobile I’ve driven in 20 plus years of reviewing cars, it had a mere eight kilometres on the odometer.
First impressions? This car carries its bulk — 2,970 kilograms — with dignity and style. Proportions are spot on and the subtle two-tone paintwork is flawless.
I love the “suicide” rear doors which allow a wide area for a rather majestic entry or exit should one desire to make that impression. Front passengers enjoy 1,060 mm (41.7 in.) of legroom while rear riders can stretch out across 1,245 mm (49 in.) of space. And there’s lots of room to carry luggage for all occasions in the 490L trunk (oops, I mean boot).
The interior is pure luxury: leather, wood, even deep lamb’s wool floor mats that encouraged Pat to kick off her shoes and wriggle her toes in that deep, soft, pile as she leaned back in her seat to enjoy the ride.
Her chauffeur (me) kept his shoes on.
It was cloudy when we left, but the panoramic sunroof kept the interior bright. Passengers get a fold-down centre console to allow control of telephone, the bespoke audio’s functions, a map display and seat adjustments. Add in creature features like rear theatre and picnic tables and it seemed a shame we didn’t have a chauffeur…except I like to drive and this car is a dream to pilot down the highway.
While there’s an abundance of electronics on board the Ghost, it’s the simplicity of the features that’s striking. Controls are easy to use, thoughtfully laid out and they don’t cause distraction for the driver. It took very little time to become completely at home with the location and operation of controls and switches. No annoyingly complicated dance through non-intuitive menus here. Within 15 minutes I was comfortable with all the systems. It seems even sensible controls are a luxury these days.
A host of driver assistance programs were on tap including active cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warning, head-up display, side view camera, rear-view camera with top view and all the usual driving nannies. The optional night vision camera provided a ghostly image of animals and humans within its considerable coverage range.
Our anniversary route took us from Calgary to the Post Hotel in Lake Louise, a luxury establishment famous for its service, attention to detail, great wine cellar and outstanding kitchen. Hey, you gotta splurge on your 50th anniversary!
In a car like this, you never take the direct route. Getting there is way more than half the fun, besides the Trans Canada is a bit boring and I wanted to experience the Ghost more fully.
For such a big vehicle, it’s surprisingly nimble and all that subdued elegance hides a playful side. There’s more than enough muscle to move it along with a satisfying surge of acceleration. Power from the 563 horsepower of its 6.5L V-12 engine gets to the rear wheels through a near-seamless eight-speed automatic transmission. Pushed by 605 pound-feet of torque, the combination propels the Ghost to 100 km/h in five seconds and passing velocities on the highway are attained in spook-tacular fashion.
Ghost is by no means a fuel-sipper even when driven sedately, but then if you own or lease one of these beauties, the 15.3 L/100 km I averaged poses no financial burden when re-filling the 82.5L tank with premium gasoline.
A host of optional equipment boosted the $337,275 entry price to a total of $473,443.95 (including fees, $5,800 for freight and $3,800 for PDI). Of course GST is extra bringing the tab to just under a half-million bucks.
There’s not a ghost of a chance I will afford one of these beauties with the Spirit of Ecstasy on the hood, but it was nice to act the part for a few days.
Harry Pegg is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.