Rolls-Royce Ghost – handcrafted British luxury

The baby of the Rolls-Royce range is an expensive blend of old world charm and outrageous luxury. The interior combines a rash of retro buttons and switches with futuristic stuff, like a 10-inch dashboard screen and a crystal, rotary controller. If you can afford the car then urban fuel consumption of 13mpg won’t be an issue – and that’s posh, premium unleaded too. Prices start at £231,180 but you’ll want some options with that for sure. 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds with 563bhp on tap – just what you’d expect from a 6592cc V12 engine….

The Ghost may be the smallest model in the Rolls garage but it is a whopper to park around town. Unlike the larger Phantom model, the Ghost has less room in the back and usually requires the owner to actually drive it, rather than rely on a chauffeur.

This may be the entry-level Roller but buyer beware. My model came with monogrammed headrests, lambs wool floor mats and Starlight Headliner, turning the roof lining into a twinkling light display. The final bill for this and other options came to £302,000!

Rolls-Royce is owned by BMW but their cars are built at Goodwood. I soon discovered the Ghost is the ultimate blend of German engineering and British prowess – is there a finer way to drive to the office?

There’s a Black Badge ‘sporty edition of the Ghost, although why anybody would want to travel faster in their luxury saloon is a mystery to me. Effortless power was never served up in such a sublime and luxurious package.

You might imagine a car like this works best on a straight stretch of autobahn in Germany with no speed restrictions. Not so. Tipping the scales at a hefty 2.3 tons, the Ghost might wallow on a fast corner but it can still tackle a cross-country journey with pace and style.

That said, it should be an offence to push a Rolls-Royce along at such an undignified speed. Instead, I enjoyed my magic carpet ride across the Cotswolds, soaking up an aria on Classic FM with optional ventilated seats and a purple leather steering wheel.

The view down that long, sculpted bonnet is one of the finest from any motor car. The famous Spirit of Ecstasy mascot stands proud above the grille, although these days it can be lowered automatically to prevent vandals and thieves.

There is plenty of room in the back for family outings and you can bamboozle passengers by leaving them to find rear door handles. The back pair are rear hinged and work beautifully. A pair of umbrellas are hidden discreetly in the front door frames.

Driving a Ghost is a wonderful experience. Once you get over the price tag and engage with it like a ‘normal’ car, there’s nothing to fear. And the good news is modern Rolls-Royces hold their value well – another good reason to buy one.


Rolls-Royce Dawn

Not so much a test drive this week as an occasion. The Dawn is a convertible of epic proportions, be it the price (£264,000 before you even add on a hand-stitched, RR monogram to the seat, or a set of lambs wool floor mats), or the tech spec of the engine (V12, 563bhp and 20mpg combined). Everything about this four-seat convertible is above and beyond. In fact, the only downside for German autobahn users might be a limited top speed of 155mph. It’s smaller than a Phantom (thank goodness) but looks better proportioned too. Join us for a long weekend of outrageous opulence…

Difficult name but otherwise the Rolls-Royce Dawn is charming

It’s not Rolls-Royce’s fault they called it the Dawn. How were they to know I once had a ‘difficult’ girlfriend with the same name.

And just like the naming of your new puppy, you won’t give it a moniker that reminds you of somebody you don’t like. Which rules out quite afew names, actually.

So, a weekend with the Dawn. Relaxed, comfortable driving sat on a well plumped pillow. Serenely peaceful in the cabin – apart from a glovebox that pops open on harsh bumps. Why is that?

I’ve actually been tootalling around at about 55mph. Not to save fuel (17.9mpg so far) but because you just don’t need to travel any father.

And it’s a car that commands respect too – until anything from Porsche or BMW.  Provided you don’t drive it like a knob, people seem to part out of your way. Lovely.

It may be the smaller Roller but it’s still mighty big to handle around town. Rerversing can be a nightmare with restricted visibility. I ended up relying totally on the cameras.

A lovely car for wafting about in. And about as British a feeling as you can get in any car these days …

Rolls-Royce Dawn. More an ocassion than a car

Nobody has managed to pass the Dawn on my driveway without making a comment. Not one person. Everyone, from the local squire to the village idiot has had their say.

And surprisingly, most of those comments have been good. I mention that because driving a car this ‘in-yer-face’ often brings out the worst in people. Little do they know I couldn’t afford a new set of wheels for a Dawn, not without a bank loan.

A smaller sibling of the Phantom, the Dawn is still bloody huge. I’ve already discovered it’s a nightmare for three-point turns and don’t even think about squeezing into a tight parking space.

But then it’s quite a wondrous thing to just stand back and admire too. Long drive up the M6 tomorrow when I can report back more…

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


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


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


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


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…

Rolls-Royce Wraith – The Dog Is Digging For Oil In The Garden


Unless my dog strikes oil burrowing in the garden, it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to afford a Wraith. However, if I’m honest, I’m not sure it’s really the car for me!

This is a vehicle that belongs to the chairman of the board and retired City types. I’m 51 and would probably spend my £234,000 on buying a gull-wing Mercedes and driving it across Europe, endlessly.

It is also quintessentially British (despite the German owners), which might explain why so many Rollers end up in the Middle east, US and Russia. The Wraith is just too big for UK roads and needs more room to roam.

So does that mean the Wraith is just an expression of wealth and social standing? Possibly. It could hardly be described as practical at this price. However, a world without Rolls-Royce would be a less beautiful place and no other luxury limo comes close…

Rolls-Royce Wraith – The Case of the Disappearing Spirit of Ecstasy


The arrival of British autumn always leads to some shenanigans on the road. This morning I drove past a Mercedes E-class which had slipped off a leafy corner and was on it’s roof. Cars never look as pretty upside-down.

At least in a Rolls-Royce you can be sure to keep your dignity intact if the worst happens. The Wraith has centre wheels caps that are weighted, so you will never see the ‘RR’ logo upside-down. Brilliant.

And the days of stealing the Spirit of Ecstasy figure off the front grille are long gone too. Fiddle around with the chrome Spirit and she automatically lowers into the bodywork. It can also be lowered before you park up.

You can pay around £5k for a gold-plated version – or there’s another option for an LED light at the base. How times have changed… Somehow I can’t imagine even the Queen wanting such blingness.