In 2009, Rolls-Royce announced a new addition to its portfolio that offered something entirely different to its flagship Phantom. This product resonated with a new group of men and women who responded to the marque’s relentless pursuit of perfection in design, engineering and craftsmanship, but sought a more modest and minimalist expression of Rolls-Royce. The execution of the first Goodwood Ghost, and its laser focus on meeting the demands of its clients, was an unmitigated success, and over the course of its ten-year lifecycle, this transformative motor car became the most successful product in the company’s 116-year history. Ghost’s formidable success was vital in enabling the brand to scale up production, invest in its capabilities and establish Rolls-Royce as the truly global brand it is today.
Additionally, Ghost’s decade-long market presence enabled the marque’s Luxury Intelligence Specialists to gather vital information about developing behaviours in how Ghost clients use their motor car, how they commission it and how they perceive Rolls-Royce. These highly successful and diverse entrepreneurs and founders, who selected this product to celebrate their ongoing ascension, were citizens of the world – they had been educated abroad, they travelled extensively and experienced Rolls-Royce in many cultures.
Due to Ghost’s energetic, dynamic personality, these clients came to realise that the Rolls-Royce brand could offer more than a chauffeur-driven experience. Indeed, in the United States of America and areas of Europe, clients were self-driving their Ghost from the very early stages of its introduction. Meanwhile, in Asia, clients were engaging heavily in the connected technology on board, be it for business or pleasure.
Across all markets, when clients commissioned their Ghost they asked the marque’s representatives about the driving experience, even if they had selected an extended wheelbase. During the weekend, this business tool morphed into a discreet celebration – clients would switch to the driver’s seat and relish a trip to a restaurant or second home with their friends and family. They celebrated this breadth of character, and this reflected in less formal colourways and more personalisation in the driver’s eyeline. These were profound learnings.
Meanwhile, at Goodwood, significant advances were being made with the marque’s proprietary aluminium spaceframe architecture. First used on Phantom, then Cullinan, this spaceframe is unique to Rolls-Royce and enables the brand’s designers and engineers to develop an authentically super-luxury product, free from the constraints of platforms used to underpin highvolume vehicles. As Ghost clients required even more of their motor car, Rolls-Royce used its architecture to respond, incorporating technology such as all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering in Ghost, unlocking an entirely new, purposeful personality.
Concurrently, the design team were tracking an emerging movement that came to define Ghost’s aesthetic treatment. It spoke of a shifting attitude among Ghost clients in the way success is expressed. Named ‘Post Opulence’ internally, it is characterised by reduction and substance. In service to this, exceptional materials must be selected and celebrated. Design must be limited, intelligent and unobtrusive. This philosophy is the antithesis of ‘premium mediocracy’, a term coined by the fashion cognoscenti. This refers to products that use superficial treatments, such as large branding or, in the context of motor cars, busy stitching and other devices that create an illusion of luxury by dressing products lacking in substance in a premium skin.
The collective result is new Ghost. This is a motor car precisely tailored to its clients, that appears perfect in its simplicity, that is underpinned by remarkable substance, that is less but better.
6.75-Litre Twin-Turbocharged V12
Client feedback asking for near-instant torque and near-silent running led the marque to further develop the Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine. A bespoke Ghost engine map was created to ensure ample performance for this dynamic motor car, delivering 563bhp/420kW and 850Nm/627lb ft of torque to the all-wheel steer, all-wheel drivetrain. Commensurate with clients’ expectations, maximum torque is available from just 1600rpm – only 600rpm above tick-over. To further refine its already remarkable acoustic properties, the air intake system incorporated larger porting to reduce engine presence in the interior suite.
Rolls-Royce clients have enjoyed self-closing doors since the first Goodwood Phantom. Operated by a button on the dashboard and on the C-pillar for motor cars with rear doors, this innovation has been celebrated among customers. For new Ghost, the marque’s engineers elected to further develop this hallmark technology and, for the first time, clients can now also open the doors with power assistance.
Clients first open the door with one pull of the interior handle, then allow the handle to return to its resting position while they check for potential hazards, and then pull and hold it for full power assistance on opening. Once the door is opened sufficiently for the client’s egress, they simply stop pulling the handle, which engages a door brake.
Once the client has alighted, they are able to close the door completely automatically at the push of a button on the exterior door handle. If they prefer to close the door manually, the operation is power assisted. On-board longitudinal and transverse sensors, as well as G-force sensors fitted to each door, allow the same speed of operation regardless of hill or driveway angles.
Micro-Environment Purification System
New Ghost benefits from a new Micro-Environment Purification System (MEPS). Existing air filtration technology was further developed to incorporate a full suite of hardware and software improvements. Highly sensitive Impurity Detection Sensors were introduced to detect ambient air quality, automatically switching fresh air intakes to Recirculation Mode if unacceptable levels of airborne contaminants are present. This channels all cabin air through a nanofleece filter, which is capable of removing nearly all ultra-fine particles from the Rolls-Royce’s microenvironment in less than two minutes.
The Most Technologically Advanced Rolls-Royce Yet
New Ghost is perfect in its simplicity, but creating this pure and detoxifying environment was one of the greatest challenges in the marque’s history. Indeed, new Ghost is the most technologically advanced motor car Rolls-Royce has ever produced. Further equipment includes: LED and laser headlights with more than 600m of illuminated range, vision assist, including dayand night-time wildlife and pedestrian warning; alertness assistant; a four-camera system with panoramic view, all-round visibility and helicopter view; active cruise control; collision warning; cross-traffic warning; lane departure and lane change warning; an industry-leading 7×3 highresolution head-up display; Wi-Fi hotspot; self-park; and the very latest navigation and entertainment systems.
Since the launch of the first Goodwood Rolls-Royce, great care has been taken to create a distinctive aesthetic universe for each motor car. These unique domains have been created based on the design values to which different layers of Rolls-Royce clients respond. New Ghost reflects an evolved appreciation of luxury, one defined by minimalism and purity, but underpinned by great substance. In the pre-sketch ideation phase of new Ghost’s design development, this treatment was named ‘Post Opulence’ – a movement defined by authenticity of materials rather than overt statement, which had already established roots in architecture, fashion, jewellery and boat design.
Pursuing this minimalist aesthetic for new Ghost was the design team’s absolute objective throughout. The desired treatment was not sterile, but confident in its purity and unmistakeably belonging to a Rolls-Royce. This begins with the car’s first impression. Rolls-Royce’s proprietary architecture allowed the design team to increase the width by 30mm, subtly communicating presence. This is framed by sharp bow lines that intersect with an angular light signature, creating an assertive yet beautiful front end.
In addition, new Ghost was given its own ethereal front-end character. This was achieved not by way of overt design, but with light. 20 LEDS underneath the top of the radiator grille subtly illuminate the veins. During the development phase, early prototypes were over-effective and the light reflecting from the polished uprights looked too striking. In the spirit of Post Opulent aesthetics, the marque’s engineering team brushed the back of the metal grille bars, making them less reflective, subduing the effect and perfecting the restrained glow desired.
The front of new Ghost is an exemplar of the design team’s obsession with reduction. Owing to the hand-welded aluminium body structures, the main structure of the car appears as one fluid canvas, uninterrupted by shut lines, recalling the coachbuilt Silver Dawn and Silver Cloud. For the first time, the Spirit of Ecstasy is not surrounded by panel lines but rather stands sits within her own ‘lake’ of bonnet.
Turning to the flanks, a single straight stroke is used to emphasise the motor car’s length. The lower ‘waft line’ borrows from boat design and uses reflection to lighten the surfacing and create a pure, uncomplicated sense of motion.
Moving to the glasshouse, it is wilfully neutral, with both doors sharing an equally proportioned window graphic, gesturing that new Ghost strikes a balance as both a driver-oriented and a chauffeur-driven car. A subtly arched roof line gently proclaims its dynamic intent. The rear end follows this sense of movement and resolves in a taper.
The subtle near-square rear light graphic has become a tenet of contemporary Rolls-Royce design. It remains, but has been modernised with a slight forward tilt. Not surrounded by shut lines, it appears as if it is an island within the painted surface.
A clear understanding of clients’ changing luxury consumption patterns and a broader view of emerging design movements informed the marque that the interior aesthetic should pursue the same minimalist principles as the exterior. Busy details and superficial embellishments were rejected not only to create a more relaxing refuge, but to better celebrate the material substance and maximise the impact of bespoke colour personalisation.
However, creating an environment defined by reduction, simplicity and elegance is an extremely complex endeavour. It also relies on sourcing the very finest materials; leathers, woods and metals left unembellished will invite the scrutiny of these most discerning of clients. To this end, each of the 20 half hides used to create the interior suite of new Ghost are subject to the automotive industry’s most exhaustive quality control checks to ensure that each of the 338 panels used – however visible – is of the very best quality. Further demonstrating the marque’s competence in leathercraft, complex, busy stitchwork has been eschewed for scant but incredibly long and perfectly straight lines, again welcoming scrutiny from the marque’s clients.
Wood sets for new Ghost are available in an open-pore finish, bravely showcasing materials in their naked form. Indeed, two new finishes have been developed specifically for the motor car. The first is Obsidian Ayous, inspired by the rich versatility of colours found in lava rock. The second is Dark Amber; this introduces subtle glamour to the interior suite by integrating veins of fine aluminium particles into the dark wood. As with the leather finishes, this material is left exposed as long, single-veneer leaves, bisected only by cold-to-the-touch real metal vents, through which MEPS-filtered air reaches the cabin.