The New Rolls-Royce Ghost Has Some Phantom DNA

While most carmakers keep their vehicles on the market for five to seven years per generation, Rolls-Royce doesn’t redesign its nameplates unless they get close to or even surpass the 10-year mark. The old Phantom survived for an impressive 14 years, while the outgoing Ghost is now in its 11th year in showrooms. Come 2020, and the full-size model was finally redesigned to join the newer Phantom and the Cullinan, the brand’s first-ever SUV. Just like the Phantom, the new-generation Ghost remains familiar on the outside, but it brings a new platform, engine, technology, and a more comfortable interior to the table.

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost looks sharper, yet it remains familiar

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A quick comparison between the old and the new Ghost reveals that Rolls-Royce used the same evolutionary recipe as for the Phantom.

It refined some exterior design cues, but it kept most of the old layout unchanged, so it’s rather easy to confuse the new Ghost with the old sedan from a distance.

But take a closer look, and some changes begin to stand out. For starters, the trademark grille is wider and taller. It also includes 20 LEDs hidden in the frame that illuminate the vertical slats from top to bottom. The headlamps are slightly larger and completely rectangular now, but they’re also slightly angled downward toward the grille. The bumper retains the three-piece vent layout, but the opening now extends upward at the edges to integrate the area where the daytime running lights used to be on the old model.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Returns With Evolutionary Styling and A New V-12 Engine Exterior
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The profile is actually almost identical to the old model. Rolls-Royce stuck with the extremely clean design that devoid of any creases and outlets and even kept the large door handles that are connected to each other due to the reverse-hinged rear doors. Arguably the biggest change here is the slightly taller glasshouse and the longer rear quarter window. The coachline that runs from front to rear and forms beefy rear haunches remains about the same.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Returns With Evolutionary Styling and A New V-12 Engine Exterior
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The rear section is again very similar to the outgoing model. The trunk section is slightly raised compared to the fenders, a feature that pays tribute to older Rolls-Royce designs. However, the fascia itself feels a bit taller now, while the elegant chrome trim atop the license plate recess is thinner. The taillights retain the almost triangular design, but they have sharper corners now and look really crisp, giving the rear end a sportier presence. Both the trunk lid and the taillights lean forward, a feature that reminds me of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The rear bumper is now integrated almost seamlessly into the bodywork, as are the rectangular exhaust pipes at the bottom.

As far as size goes, the new Ghost is 218 inches long, 3.5 inches more than the old model. It’s also 1.2 inches wider than the outgoing Ghost at 77.8 inches from mirror to mirror.

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost features an elegant, Phantom-inspired interior

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Returns With Evolutionary Styling and A New V-12 Engine Interior
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Not surprisingly, the Ghost's new interior is based on the Phantom, so it borrows from the elegance of the larger sedan.

But the three-tier layout of the dashboard isn’t as obvious, so the styling is a bit more restrained and somewhat sportier. The upper dash isn’t as boxy either, as the instrument cluster features a hood that raises a couple of inches above the line. There’s an infotainment screen in the center and a clock toward the passenger side, but beyond that, there’s a seemingly plain back section that actually conceals lights that illuminate the car’s name and a constellation of stars. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it mimics the company’s iconic headliner.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Returns With Evolutionary Styling and A New V-12 Engine Interior
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The tier below is made from authentic wood, and it’s available in a variety of open-pore choices, including one with aluminum in the wood grain. This section incorporates two big A/C vents, while the A/C controls are mounted lower toward the center console. The door panels remain simple and elegant, with large armrests and storage compartments at the bottom. As before, the sedan is equipped with big and comfortable chairs front and rear, with loads of legroom for rear passengers. Sit in the back, and you’ll also benefit from reclining seats.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Returns With Evolutionary Styling and A New V-12 Engine Interior
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Rolls-Royce also updated its automatic doors, which now open fully with one pull of the interior handle. The doors close automatically with a push of a button on the exterior door handle.

The cabin is also quieter than before, thanks to a double-walled floor. Rolls-Royce used no fewer than 200 pounds of sound insulation around the cabin, as well as polished HVAC ducting to reduce noise. The dampers in the seats and the additional cavities in the trunk also keep noises on certain frequencies out of the car. It seems like a great place to use the new 1,300-watt, 18-speaker sound system with speakers into the door sills and the headliner.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Returns With Evolutionary Styling and A New V-12 Engine Interior
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You’ll also get access to a wide range of state-of-the-art tech, including,

  • Vision assist with wildlife and pedestrian assistant
  • Four-camera system with panoramic view, all-round visibility, and helicopter view
  • Active cruise control
  • Collision warning
  • Cross-traffic warning
  • Lane departure
  • Lane change warning
  • Self-parking feature

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost rides on new platform, features new V-12

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Returns With Evolutionary Styling and A New V-12 Engine Exterior
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Just like its predecessor, the new Ghost features a twin-turbo V-12, but it’s not the same old engine.

The brand dropped the old 6.6-liter unit in favor of the newer 6.75-liter mill that also motivates the Phantom and the Cullinan.

This new engine cranks out 563 horsepower, which means its just one horsepower more powerful than the old model. Torque, on the other hand, comes in at 627 pound-feet, an extra 22 pound-feet compared to the old model.

But even though it’s slightly more powerful than the old Ghost, it’s not the most potent Ghost ever built. The new Ghost falls behind the old Ghost Black Badge model, rated at 604 horsepower and 620 pound-feet. Even though it wins the torque battle by seven pound-feet, it falls behind by a solid 41 horses in the power department. But I guess Rolls-Royce will roll out a new Black Badge model soon.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Returns With Evolutionary Styling and A New V-12 Engine Interior
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As before, the V-12 engine mates to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. But the updated gearbox now features a Satellite Aided Transmission system, which draws GPS data to pre-select the optimum gear for upcoming corners. Power travels to all four wheels and, just like the Phantom, the Ghost features all-wheel steering for improved handling at all speeds.

More big news comes from the platform department. While the old Ghost features underpinnings derived from the BMW 7 Series, the new sedan rides on its own platform. This new frame is related to the one used in the Phantom and Cullinan and features a flexible all-aluminum construction.

The suspension is also new. Called the Planar Suspension System, it incorporates an upper wishbone damper that works alongside a "Flagbearer" system that uses cameras to read the road ahead and prepare the suspension for any changes in the road surface. Essentially an upgrade to the company’s Magic Carpet Ride suspension system, it also includes a self-leveling air suspension.

How much does the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost cost?

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Returns With Evolutionary Styling and A New V-12 Engine Exterior
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U.S. pricing for the 2021 Ghost starts at $332,500, a notable increase compared to the old model.

As usual, the sticker will increase dramatically with all the fancy options, so this sedan will cost in excess of $400,000 before you know it. Expect it to go on sale in the United States by the end of the year. Just like its predecessor, the new Ghost will have a 10-year cycle, so it will be around for quite some time.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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