It’s 10 p.m., I’m at the reception of the Hotel Silken Puerta de America, in Madrid, where I have met Luis Miguel Ortego for a most interesting witness to pass me. I remember, and no I have never driven a car as luxurious as the one I am going to drive for the next 12 hours.
Luis leaves me with the first brushstrokes of what two floors below, in the hotel garage, awaits me. It tells me about its address, its silent 12-cylinder mechanics, its finishes … and there it is, a heavy, large and elegant key reaches my hand. It is the key to Rolls Royce Ghost II and ahead a hasty photo session awaits us under the cold of a late November night.
12 hours to meet the new Rolls Royce Ghost, 12 hours to also photograph it. A most intense night awaits us. There is no time to lose.
Juanma, the fellow photographer who also accompanied me in the test session of the BMW M4 Coupé, and I went down the elevator to floor -2, paid the parking ticket and looked for the Rolls among the rows of cars in the parking lot. We did not take too long. A beautiful beam of light comes from modern optics Led that welcome us from afar. Its silhouette protrudes several feet above the average height of the row of cars in which it is located and two parking spaces have been necessary to comfortably park this luxurious mastodon. Impose, impress as I have not been impressed before.
Its interior, excessively lit, already allows us to glimpse, even before opening the doors, a huge cast of luxuriously cut details. It is only the beginning, little by little we will discover more and more and more elements of exquisite finish, details impossible to find in another car that is not a Rolls. We open its great doors, including “Suicidal” opening rear doors, we delicately rest the tripod on the floor of the rear seats and leave the cameras on the rear seats. It’s time to head to the center of Madrid and start with the first shots.
A sensation that I have never experienced before at the wheel of any other car …
I sit behind his wheel. All around me a perfectly intertwined repertoire of wood and leather. The dashboard looks shiny, the aerator buttons highlight the varnish of the wood and under my feet I feel a thick carpet which practically invites me to drive barefoot. I pull off, insert the D into its automatic, and pray to myself that there is no excessively narrow bend in our ascent from the parking lot to the street.
The unit that has reached our hands is registered in the UK, although the steering wheel is located on the left and is bicolor. The aluminum finish contrasts against the blue of the bodywork, blending a modern touch to match the front optics with the evident classic aroma that the Ghost exudes. My head begins to spin thinking about which place will be, of all those that we have programmed, where the session will begin.
I have never experienced such a feeling behind the wheel of a car. The first meters unfold in absolute silence, a silence and a softness that are typical of an electric car. With use, already accustomed to the impressive insulation of the car, we will begin to notice the first notes of its mechanics, faint, very faint, so faint that it would hardly have to be mentioned.
This feeling of isolation is joined by a direction that becomes the main protagonist of my astonishment. It is the culmination of refinement, you take every curve, every maneuver, effortlessly, as if you were floating on a flying silk carpet, soft, very soft. Yes, you hardly get information about what is happening under your feet, about the situation of the tires on the road, but of course, what need is there for that driving a Rolls-Royce?
I am still struggling to get the hang of the Rolls in the middle of Madrid traffic, while, in most cases, I am observed from the windows of the adjoining cars trying to glimpse who is sitting inside first and then go back to give a visual review more extended to the car. I head up Madrid’s Gran Vía from Alcalá, in front, a few meters away, Juanma is already starting to shoot with the camera. Raise your thumb, we are now going to the area of the Retiro neighborhood behind the Prado to continue with some static image.
The best word to define its bearing is majestic. It is a no-brainer yes, but when you are driving it, when you appreciate its design well, each pore of its finish, you are reaching to understand the level of care with which it is made. It is big, it is voluminous, its nose seems to have no end, it is luxury, it is class, it is tradition and yes, it is spectacular.
From the simple lines of its exterior line, in which the voluptuous grille stands out, well followed by the modern design optics, to a cabin where sobriety is nonexistent. Chrome details, shiny wood, plush leather… all spiced up by excellent interior lighting. There are lights on all sides and when you open the door it is practically daylight in its cabin, curious for example in the case of the side glove boxes, which detect the presence of your hand to proceed to light up.
Sitting in the driving position we find a multifunction three-spoke steering wheel, with the buttons perfectly integrated so that they go unnoticed and behind this a simple instrumentation of three white dials, the speedometer being the central dial. Under these three areas there is an on-board computer and around it the controls for the lights, the start button and the electronic handbrake, as well as the buttons for the camera and the parking sensors.
The central console is dominated by a multimedia system with an undeniable aroma BMW. Below the large screen of the multimedia system are large aerators accompanied by a series of beautiful buttons responsible for closing and opening. The air conditioning, of course independent, lacks any digital display and the controls in charge of setting the temperature have a beautiful roulette-shaped finish.
The wood continues along the central bridge, extending its presence to the rear seats, to the top of the doors and the central armrest. I get out, I sit in the back … and no, I am not going to fall into the cliché that these cars are more enjoyed from the rear seat than behind the wheel. I’ve been driving it for a couple of hours and I’m enjoying it, Why would I enjoy it more from the back plaza?
The armchairs are just as comfortable, in front I have a screen to control the multimedia system and a wooden tray. From the armrest I can control the position of the seat, which is also heated, like the front ones, and under this armrest there is a beautifully finished ashtray. The column of the central bridge ends in the rear seats as a support for the air conditioning system and the glove compartment of the armrest reveals a phone waiting for you to insert a sim card and the connection controls bluetooth and the connection point Wifi.
The finishes, adjustments and materials used are, as you can imagine, perfect, I only squeak slightly the multimedia system inherited from BMWBut if something really surprises me, even if it sounds stupid, it’s your carpet. It’s several toes thick and it’s terribly soft and squishy, so much so that it really makes you even sad to think about stepping on it with your shoes.
The dawn continues its advance and we with her on the back of the Rolls. Short stop for a coffee, we still have several hours ahead and the previous days have been long, I have a couple of presentations in tow with their corresponding flights and fatigue begins to take its toll. While we discuss sensations, details … at the doors of the Palace Hotel a large group of Japanese get off a bus and dedicate a few photos to it with their mobiles and tablets, some ask what Rolls is, others raise their thumbs and smile. Time to continue.
We need a well-lit and quiet place to take the photos of the interior. It occurs to me to head to the airport, I don’t think there will be a lot of car traffic at 3 in the morning.
Out of the city I prove that such a determined performance is the Ghost. Under the hood I have a whole dinosaur, an engine of those that are unfortunately in danger of extinction, a block of 12 cylinders in V with 6.6 liters of displacement, biturbo and with a power of 571 horses delivered to the rear train, counting on a couple of 780 Nm.
For its transmission, a 8-speed automatic gearbox signed by ZF. Again the smoothness is the predominant note and is that the transitions occur with the most absolute continuity, you do not perceive absolutely anything between march and march.
Obviously we cannot ask him for steps through a heart attack curve or a lag rounding the start of each line, it is not the battle of this car. In return we travel with extreme placidity on the highway. We traveled with the sound system, which by the way sounds wonderful, removed and on the way there is no sign of aerodynamic noise. I hit the gas pedal, the nose rises majestically and in a matter of tenths of a second we are rolling over the legal limits. Accelerate quickly, without any startle.
We are displacing 2,500 kg car and that is noticeable in the braking, which requires a bit more caution on our part, coupled with a somewhat spongy feel on the part of the pedal. It tackles the curves linked with an agility that would not be expected from a car of its size, without rocking and always keeping in mind the constant of comfort above all else, but it demands on our part that we take into account the volume we are driving.
The T4 parking barrier opens. We go up the spiral ramp of one of the car parks and look for a place to finish the photos of the interior. I take the opportunity to dive into more details, I raise its hood and the engine does not purr, it tinkles as if it were a clock mechanism; I lift the boot lid and find a correct cargo space, 490 liters to be more exact, in which 4 suitcases comfortably fit, covered from head to toe by a thick carpet.
I look at the analog clock on the dash. It’s 6 in the morning and we still have 30 minutes to go home and from home to our appointment at 10 in the morning at the foot of the 4 towers of Madrid to return the key to the Ghost to its owners. We regret not being able to stretch the session a bit more and find a new location to finish the photo gallery, but fatigue is already taking its toll. It’s time to pick up the tripod, put the cameras away and go home.
Is it the most special car I have tested in 2014? Possibly. I’ve driven the Morgan 3 Wheeler, the BMW i8, the Alfa Romeo 4C… without a doubt it is in the Top 5 and without a doubt the experience of having driven it leaves me with a feeling of comfort, of softness of use, that I have not experienced in any other car. Its steering is incredibly comfortable, its active suspension digests any element of the asphalt without hardly being noticed in a cabin that does not succumb to any sway, the silence on board, the astonishing readiness with which it picks up pace … Time to say goodbye to the Rolls-Royce Ghost.
Despite the untimely hours … it has been a pleasure gentleman.