When Rolls-Royce unveiled its new 6.6-L twin-turbo V12 Ghost sedan at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, it stated that it was “a vision of simplicity.” But reading through an almost bewildering specification that embraces mechanical and electronic high technology complemented by craftsmanship that includes Teflon-coated umbrellas housed within the front doors, hides drum-dried rather than painted to ensure color permeation through the leather, and veneers from only one tree per car, “simplicity” is not a word that springs to mind.
“Our challenge has been to preserve the prerequisite levels of comfort while delivering the most modern, dynamically interesting drive ever in a Rolls-Royce,” said Engineering Director Helmut Riedl.
The Ghost is the smaller sibling of the Rolls-Royce Phantom but, as with “simplicity,” “smaller” is also very much a relative term; it certainly does not mean “small.” The car is 5399 mm (212.6 in) long on a 3295-mm (129.7-in) wheelbase, has a turning circle of 13.4 m (44 ft), curb mass of 2470 kg (5445 lb), and costs £193,500 sterling.
Rolls-Royce underlined at Frankfurt that the company’s roots are in engineering; welds are an art form and craftsmanship exists at a nano level.
The Ghost has a steel monocoque body and is 400 mm (15.7 in) shorter overall than the Phantom. The body has a double front bulkhead to insulate the interior from engine noise. Brazing is by hand to achieve near-seamless joins and these are then sanded by hand. The car also has 6988 spot welds.
Suspension is double wishbone front, multilink rear, plus four-corner air suspension and electronic variable damping. Rolls states that its new air suspension system is so sensitive that it will detect the movement of a single passenger from one side of a seat to another and compensate accordingly. The air system incorporates a “lift and kneel” function, raising or lowering the car by 25 mm (1 in).
Electronic systems are those found in parent-company BMW’s top models under the control of Integrated Chassis Management systems.
The Ghost’s 6.6-L 420-kW (563-hp) engine has direct injection and gets the car from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 4.9 s. Maximum torque is 780 N·m (575 lb·ft) from 1500 rpm, and a ZF eight-speed auto transmission is fitted. Combined fuel consumption is 13.6 L/100 km, and CO2 emissions are 317 g/km. The V12 is the most powerful car that Rolls has ever produced, although, in the words of the company, that power is “designed to lower the pulse, not raise it.” Cd figure is 0.33.
A complex camera system is fitted to the car, with rear, front, side, and top views, or a fish-eye combination for use at blind junctions or when parking in difficult circumstances. An infrared object detection system is available.
Building a Ghost takes 20 days and involves 2000 individual operations. Painting and polishing alone take seven days.
The interior trim of each car requires at least eight hides, each coming from a batch dyed at the same time. Seats and interior panels are hand-stitched using traditional upholstering techniques. Only veneer from one tree is used in any one car to ensure matching and consistent aging and coloring. Parts are milled and sanded by hand before being coated with five layers of lacquer.