The Rolls-Royce Ghost is the car everybody loves to hate it seems

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After five days in the Rolls-Royce Ghost, my friends and I have decided that what the company really needs to build is a mini version – something you can actually use on British roads without offending people.

Sadly, the Ghost is simply too large to be a practical tool in the UK. This is a car that is best used on the wide open expanses of the Middle East and the USA.

Just parking the thing is a nightmare. It’s too long for British parking spaces – and God help you if you hold people up in the manoeuvre too. This is the car everybody loves to hate.

And that really is the one major drawback about the Rolls that you won’t find in many car reviews or brochures – you have to have a very thick skin to drive it.

An acoustic exhaust system? No, no, no! Not on a Rolls-Royce

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Silence is golden? Well, not if you are designing a luxurious modern car. These days, pretty much every expensive motor I test is equipped with a button that opens the ports on the exhaust to let a roar out.

And if there’s no button, like in an Aston Martin, then the exhaust has been tweaked to produce a suitably atmospheric grumble. There’s one fitted to my Porsche 911 S but to be honest, it’s pretty tiresome if you are trying to listen to the radio or touring.

So what an unexpected joy it is to slip into the Ghost and discover there is no such vulgarity. It really is true what they say, you can only hear the clock ticking in a Rolls (actually you can’t because even the clock is silent these days).

In fact, my only major cock-up in the Ghost has been pressing the start button twice. The V12 is so quiet you can’t hear the thing start. Try that in a Maserati…

The bling is on the inside of the Rolls-Royce Ghost II

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I’m just getting used to feeling unloved driving the Ghost. It’s quite the maddest sensation when a woman in a £100,000 Range Rover snarls at you – especially as I could barely afford to fuel her car on a daily basis.

Driving a Rolls-Royce obviously means I’m successful. And we Brits just love to knock a success story at every available opportunity.

And that means if I make the slightest driving cock-up at the wheel, it’s open season on the posh bloke in the driving seat!

At least I am cocooned in a cabin of luxurious bling. My favourite feature thus far? Forget the grunt from that V12, the armchair seats and the whisper quiet engine, it’s the fairy lights.

Yep, the Ghost has an interior headlining covered in hundreds of star-like twinklers when you get in at night. It’s quite lovely and reassures me that even Rolls-Royce has a sense of humour.

Unlike the Cotswold lady in the Range Rover.

What’s it like to own a Rolls-Royce? Join us for a bit of Ghost writing

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Nobody else on the road is going to love you in a Rolls-Royce. To most people it’s as vulgar as a real fur coat. Statement cars don’t get any more verbal than this – or much more expensive.

For the price of a detached house in Leeds you can ponce around in the equivalent of an Englishman’s castle on wheels – cocooned in your own little world of hope and glory.

I sat in a hotel on Park Lane last week and saw a steady stream of Rolls-Royces passing by. They’re everywhere in the West End but a rarer sight in the West Country, where I’m going to be steering it for the next seven days.

So what’s it actually like to own a Rolls-Royce – to pop to the shops, do the daily commute and squeeze in to a normal sized parking space?

Well, I’m about to find out in the Ghost II. Join us for daily updates from the back and front seats of the Rolls to find out…

When an Aston Martin Rapide meets a pheasant there is only one winner

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Why was everybody staring at my Aston Rapide over the weekend? Was it because I left the headlights on full beam (again) – the blue warning light so well hidden behind the steering wheel?

Or was it because I had exploded another unfortunate pheasant? There are so many ponderous and enormous birds around these parts it’s like Death Race 2000 out there at the present.

It could be the rasp from the V12 engine, which doesn’t need acoustic tweakery to make knees wobble when you blip the accelerator.

No, I think quite simply, this is the most beautiful four-door saloon that you will ever see. Granted, it’s a bit tight in the back but there just isn’t a finer four-seater on the planet.

The Aston Martin Rapide could make financial sense – if you keep it a lifetime

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In theory, there’s absolutely no reason to own another car. Apart from any all-wheel drive ability, the Aston Martin Rapide has got every box on the ‘must have’ list ticked.

Exclusivity, jaw-dropping looks, a supercar engine and even a hint of practicality with those four bucket sports seats and four doors too. Hell, the boot can even take a couple of bags.

Yes, you might query the depreciation but if you keep this glorious V12 for a lifetime, I guarantee it will be worth a small fortune when you come to cash in your tax-free pension with George Osborne.

This is a future classic. More so than the Vanquish because there are so few Rapides out there. A gem of supercar that deserves a place in your garage.

 

 

Like Clarkson in a sweet shop, you have to blip the throttle of the Aston Martin Rapide

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Yes, well there is something very childish about noisy cars. But like Jeremy Clarkson in a sweet shop, you can’t miss an opportunity to blip the throttle on a V12 engine.

The Rapide isn’t the fastest Aston Martin but it is, without doubt, the cooooolest model to currently grace our roads.

This is partly because other motorists don;t have a clue what the four-door is. It’s so rare that the Vantage looks positively common by comparison. Imagine that.

So it was today that I drive up and down the Hanger Lane tunnel on the A40 into London, just to hear that glorious exhaust note time and time again.

It’s not as throaty as the Maserati Quattroporte GTS, not as grumbly as the Bentley Speed 8.

But mix in the gorgeous looks and simply mind-boggling interior and you have a car worth more than the sum of its parts.

There’s something orgasmic about the lesser-spotted Aston Martin Rapide

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The Rapide and I are on the way to London this morning. It’s never an ordinary day driving an Aston but there’s something extra orgasmic about the lesser-spotted Rapide.

What you see in the photograph above doesn’t do the car justice. No, not at all. You have to catch yourself driving it in a polished shop window to fully appreciate the presence of a Rapide.

And Porsche Panamera drivers just hate it. I’ve passed three on the M40 and you can see them doggedly trying not to stare. This is what they should have bought – admittedly secondhand but so much better.

The Panamera was always an ugly mother but next to the Aston it looks like a bucket of poo.

I can’t stop driving the Rapide. It’s as gorgeous as the Maserati Quattroporte, which is saying something indeed…