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. 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…

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.



Rolls-Royce Wraith – Some Might Say It’s A Tad Over-Engineered…


Some might say that Rolls’ first fastback is a coupe that has been a tad over-engineered. Apart from rambling on about the ‘suicide doors’ (they are rear-hinged) and hidden umbrellas, I keep finding features which I do wonder are quite what one would expect in a Roller.

The night vision feature is an example. The centre sat nav display can be switched to infrared night vision that identifies potential hazards more than 200 yards ahead. They show up as a white blurs, rather like a cine-film in the negative.

It is sure to entertain your passengers on a long night trip but I can’t help but think this smacks of gimmick. And besides, you have to take your eyes off the road to study it properly and that can’t be good.

Our test car didn’t have the ‘star light’ roof lining, which brightens up the interior with a star-spangled top. But it did boast the inch-thich, lambs wool floor mats that are a bugger to clean.

Am I being picky? It just seems like the Wraith is something of a luxurious fairground ride with too much going on. Sure, it’s a class car but I think I can do without all the extras that I’m unlikely to ever need.


Rolls-Royce Wraith – Umbrellas At Dawn… Why The Rolls Is Armed With Rain Portection


James Bond had machine guns fitted to his Aston Martin, wealthy people in South Africa arm their motors with flame throwers for extra protection. So what does the Wraith come equipped with? Umbrellas, of course.

Yes, it’s just what every English gentleman should carry when skies turn grey. But what makes the Wraith brollies special is where they are stored in the car.

The chrome-plated handles are embossed with the Rolls logo and slot neatly into the bulkhead. They are only visible when the rear-hinged doors are open, press a button and they pop out to meet you.

It’s quite bizarre that for all the luxurious features fitted to the Wraith, it’s the umbrellas which have proved the most entertaining for passengers. We’ll talk about the night vision and retractable Spirit of Ecstasy tomorrow…

Rolls-Royce Wraith – Trafalgar Square And Classic FM In One Smooth Bundle


There was a moment yesterday, driving the Wraith around Trafalgar Square, surrounded by red buses and listening to Desert Island Discs, that I’ve never felt more British.

There may be a German V12 engine at the heart of Rolls-Royce these days, but is there a more ‘British’ car I wonder?

The air of serenity inside the cockpit of the Wraith demands you switch from Radio 2 to Classic FM immediately, then set the slightly complicated heater fans to ‘soft’ and just soak up the atmosphere.

No need to press the 6.6-litre engine too hard, it’s gulping fuel at an alarming rate already. The Wraith isn’t a sports coupe by any measure – the ride is sublimely comfortable, like an armchair floating on air.

It’s a car built for Mr Bridger in the Italian Job, except you don’t need to be Noel Coward to appreciate it…

Rolls-Royce Wraith – Like A Waitrose Delivery, Only Bigger…


I must admit to a little curtain twitching this morning. I woke early to walk the hound, breakfasted on porridge and then sat anxiously waiting for the sight of a large British motor car pulling up the lane.

The Wraith then snuck into the driveway aboard a large but inconspicuous lorry. A load of farm machinery, a delivery of wood? No, it’s a Rolls-Royce.

I tried to imagine what it would actually be like waiting for delivery of one’s own Roller. I suppose if you can afford £230k then it’s probably like signing for a very large delivery from Waitrose. Except Rolls generally get the product being delivered correct.

And now I’m sat in it. Cossetted in leather, wood and the smell of richness. I’m off to London to meet the Queen. Well, OK, a business colleague but it’s going to be interesting. I know the Wraith will be the last word in luxury but how will other motorists react? That’s what intrigues me most…