Driven: Rolls-Royce Ghost EWB

We drive the extended Rolls-Royce Ghost EWB, the longer Bentley Mulsanne rival

Evo rating
  • Good to drive as regular Ghost, vast rear space
  • Not everyone needs that much legroom

What is it? A stretched Rolls-Royce Ghost that will increase sales of the BMW Group’s most prestigious and costly entry-level model in markets where the length of the limo equates to the status of its owner. Who, of course, will be sitting in the back. Not a very evo thing to do. It costs £230,000. Technical highlights? Perhaps the most impressive thing about the transformation from standard Ghost to EWB (or ‘extended wheelbase’) is how 170mm of extra overall length has added only 30kg to the weight – remarkable when you consider the EWB has a panoramic sunroof as standard. The visual sleight of hand is beautifully executed too because, unless you look very closely, or have the standard car on hand for comparison, you don’t notice the ‘stretch’; it’s absorbed into the design without harming the Ghost’s elegant proportions.

The way to tell the difference is to look at the rear doors which are now 35mm longer than those at the front. The upshot on the inside, though, is fairly dramatic, tipping the already more than adequate 160mm of rear kneeroom into the required ‘unnecessarily spacious’ category at a whopping 330mm.

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No changes were deemed necessary for the drivetrain or chassis, so it’s the same mighty 563bhp 6.6-litre V12 driving the rear wheels via an 8-speed auto and air suspension with electronically adaptive damping.

What’s it like to drive? It all begs a rather obvious question given that the Ghost has, until now, been billed as the driver’s Rolls-Royce. But it seems that no builder of high-end hardware can ignore the predilections of emerging markets’ big spenders and China’s new rich, in particular, like their limos extra-long.

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So, perhaps no surprise here, I’m invited to try the back compartment first. And, well, it’s absolutely lovely with fabulously comfortable seats (I immediately powered them to the fully reclined position, the better to exploit all that extra legroom) , polished wood tables, lambswool rugs, TV screens, individual climate controls – everything the pampered plutocrat could want. Except, maybe, quite the same feeling of seclusion and privacy that you’d get in the more expensive Phantom where you sit back shrouded from the prying lenses of the paparazzi by the substantial C pillars. Or, indeed, the quite uncanny sense of isolation from the outside world you get in the flagship Roller.

It’s very good in these respects, as is ride comfort and refinement, but probably little better, in absolute terms, than would be experienced in a long-wheelbase Mercedes S-Class. The sense of luxury, though, that’s something else.

At least the extra length and weight haven’t dimmed the driving experience which, for such a large and heavy car with a new emphasis on keeping the boss in the back happy, is capable of unlikely feats of acceleration and A-to-B alacrity when called upon. Of course, it will waft with the best of them but, get your toe down, and the Ghost EWB can be a seriously rapid way to travel, the chassis’ active anti-roll bar system keeping body roll in check and allowing surprisingly swift and tidy transitions. So long as you keep things smooth and neat behind the wheel, the Ghost will respond in kind. And if the way it eats up the straights between bends (0-62mph takes an improbable 4.9sec) isn’t a good reason to give the chauffeur the day off, it’s hard to know what is.

How does it compare?

The most obvious rival is the regular Ghost which, at £200,500, undercuts the EWB by nearly £30k. If you have no desire to measure your importance by the inch, it would seem perverse to spend more.  On the other hand, the Ghost EWB easily feels as spacious in the back as the standard Phantom which would set you back £55k more. If space combined with RR luxury is the issue, then the long Ghost looks like a bit of a bargain. Mustn’t forget the Bentley Mulsanne, of course, which for almost identical money, is arguably the true driver’s choice. Anything else I should know?

Actually, there is an easier way to tell the EWB apart from its marginally shorter sibling: a completely new style of alloy wheel. The door mirrors have been shrunk, too, after customer complaints that the Ghost’s original items were too bulky.

Specifications

EngineV12, 6592cc, twin-turbo
Max power563bhp @ 5250rpm
Max torque575lb ft @ 1500rpm
0-604.9sec (claimed)
Top speed155mph (limited)
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