The traffic light to turn left is green. But the lane is choked by Mumbai’s impatient traffic wanting to turn right. There just might be place to squeeze through but I don’t want to be the one to scratch a Rolls, so I wait patiently for the light to change. A traffic police officer sees the car and gets the traffic to clear the lane to let us pass.
As the errant bikers and cabbies make way for us, the policeman peers into the rear seat where our photographer Ashley is cosily ensconced. The cop’s eyes battle to recognize him – must obviously be a VIP – lording over the back seat.
Yes, when you are in a Rolls-Royce, you are a VIP, even if you are just a poor journalist. People expect either an Amitabh Bachan or a Vijay Mallya to be gracing the car. So the excitement of spotting a Rolls is as much as the excitement of finding out who the person travelling in the car is.
So India’s super-rich now have a new car to add to their garage. In this stratosphere, big numbers is big business. Speed, performance, size and even the sticker price – the bigger the vital statistics, the bigger the bragging rights. And in this world, the new Rolls-Royce Ghost Extended Wheelbase (EWB) comes with all the right credentials.
The EWB version is 170mm longer than the standard Ghost, the rear legroom has been increased from 1075mm to 1245mm and the car has gained 30kg in weight. But you can’t tell the EWB from the standard Ghost unless you put them side by side. The extra 170mm has been absorbed into the design without disturbing the Ghost’s elegant proportions.
So how do car buffs tell a standard Ghost from an EWB? First look at the door. The rear door is slightly longer, by 35mm to be precise, than the front. The EWB also gets smaller door mirrors because there were complaints about the earlier ones being too big. And the wheels are a different design.
It’s on the inside that the difference is much more apparent. The EWB Ghost offers more legroom than the more expensive, standard Phantom. The fact that the Ghost EWB costs much less than the Phanton actually makes it more value for money, if you can call a Rolls that. Standard on the EWB are some things that you have to pay extra for in a normal Ghost, like the panoramic sunroof, theatre configuration comprising two individual nine-inch TV screens, polished wood table and the lambswool rugs. The car offers everything the pampered plutocrat would want. Only the more expensive Phantom beats this in giving you a sense of seclusion and isolation from the outside world.
So what is it like to drive? This is a question of purely academic interest, since in India the only person who drives a Rolls is the chauffeur. And if you are wearing a suit and tie, you are definitely the chauffeur. But the Ghost has been billed as a driver’s Rolls-Royce. How much of the Ghost’s driving dynamics’, if you can use the term for a Roller, have been impacted by the extra 170mm and 30kg?
There are no changes to the Ghost’s drivetrain or chassis. It’s the same 563bhp 6592cc twin-turbo V12 driving the rear wheels via an eight-speed auto and air suspension with electronically adaptive damping.
The 170mm extra length hardly makes any difference to what is already a big car. And even the extra weight has not dimmed the driving experience. For such a large and heavy car, the Ghost is capable of phenomenal acceleration when called upon. This 2420kg car will hit 100kph in 5.0 seconds! It is deceptively rapid, and you have to keep an eye on the speedo to tell how. Quickly you are covering the continent. Rollers are not built to be chucked around corners with their wheels smoking and tail hanging out, and the Ghost is no exception. But keep things neat and tidy behind the wheel and the Ghost will respond with surprisingly swift and tidy transitions around the bends. It’s good enough to give the chauffeur the day off.
Thos Ghost has been a runaway success for Rolls-Royce. Last year it sold 2,200 of them. And with the Ghost EWB, Rolls is all set to better that figure.
So what’s new next? How long before the folks at Goodwood roll out a line of body styles like the Phantom? So when Rolls does launch the ghost Drophead and the Ghost Coupe, we will be there to bring it to you.