Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First Drive: 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost

There's a serious surge when you nail the gas pedal, a sensation quite unlike that you may have experienced in any Rolls-Royce until now. The new V-12 has 575 pound-feet of torque on tap from just 1500 rpm, and with the ZF eight speed automatic seamlessly shuffling the ratios, this big, heavy limo hits 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and will hustle down the standing quarter mile in 13.2 seconds. It is the quickest production Rolls-Royce in history. While some Rolls-Royce execs profess slight embarrassment at the Ghost's impressive turn of speed, insisting the marque is really all about relaxed "waftability," their deprecating smiles suggest they're actually quite pleased their "little" car is as quick away from the lights as that upstart Bentley CFS.

2011 Rolls Royce Ghost Rear Three Quarter Static

It's not the performance that's the most remarkable thing about the 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost -- it's the ride. It's impossible to tell for sure without a detailed back-to-back comparison, but this "baby" Rolls-Royce may even ride better than the big Phantom sedan. The Ghost soaks up everything from big frost heaves to gnarly road acne with astonishing aplomb; no matter what's going on under the wheels, its occupants glide along in serene comfort. And yet -- and this is perhaps the most remarkable thing of all -- the Ghost doesn't wallow like a drunken water buffalo the moment you swing it into a turn.

A unique characteristic of two lane British roads, says Rolls-Royce engineering director Helmut Riedl, is their edges are often rough while the centers are smooth, which frequently induces a side-to-side rocking motion and what ride specialists call "head toss" for the vehicle's occupants. Taming this motion was one of the key objectives of the Ghost's chassis development team.


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