Rolls-Royce Ghost (2010 - 2020) used car review

50% off Breakdown Cover

50% off Breakdown Cover

You can get covered in our half price sale from just £5.75 a month.* We’re the UK’s best breakdown cover provider as voted for by Auto Express drivers 2021.

50% off Breakdown Cover

By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

For the ultimate in automotive technology concealed behind a veil of leather and wood with a cloud-like driving experience courtesy of a V12 twin-turbo engine, look no further than the Rolls-Royce Ghost, introduced in 2010. Few opulent saloons can come close to matching it for comfort - and that's reflected in the price - but luxury limos from the 21st century's second decade just don't get much better.

Models

4dr Luxury Saloon (6.6-litre V12 petrol)

History

Rolls Royces are traditionally driven by people other than their owners. If you can afford one, you can afford to sit in the back. But what kind of car might this famous brand make if it were to design a means of conveyance aimed at people who would slip behind the wheel themselves? One as comfortable with curves as it was in the showroom? In 2010, we got our answer with this car, the Ghost.

Rolls Royce had been here before. Back in 1929 when, like today, their range was headed by an imposing Phantom model, the company identified the need for a slightly smaller, more driver-orientated design. But the 20/50 model they produced was feebly-powered and ultimately unsatisfying. Perhaps in fear of repeating this mistake, the modern era Ghost employed hi-tech handling and a 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V12 that was actually more powerful than its larger and pricier Phantom stablemate. Plus it's still an astonishing thing to ride in. Some things never change.

Rolls Royce substantially updated this design to create what was known as the 'Ghost II' in 2014. This gained styling revisions inside and out, plus a 'Dynamic Driving package' and 'Satellite Aided Transmission'. A second generation Ghost model arrived in 2020.

What You Get

At a quick glance, you might mistake this Ghost for its larger Phantom stablemate, the elevated prow, the long bonnet, the short front overhang, sharply-raked C-pillar and elegant tail all familiar Rolls Royce styling cues. Yet look a little closer at Range Rover designer Ian Cameron's majestic 'yacht line' styling and a more dynamic feel beckons from the powerful profile.

The post-2014-era 'Series II' model is identifiable by its tapered 'wake channel' on the bonnet, chrome inserts in the front air intakes and subtly revised bumpers, plus the side character 'waft line' was slanted further forward.

On all Ghosts though, it's what's underneath the sculpted panels that's of rather more interest. Instead of the Phantom's aluminium spaceframe, there's a steel monocoque, a more efficient solution that requires no separation of chassis and body. As a result, though this car is 0.4-metres shorter than a Phantom, it's pretty much the same size inside.

Which is something you best appreciate from a seat in the rear. Entry is via coach doors, unusual in the way they aid access by hinging at the back rather than the front and can be closed at the press of a button. Once inside, original Ghost customers had the choice of individual chairs separated by a centre console or a rear 'lounge seat' which features curved outer edges, making it easy to turn and face a fellow passenger. Either way, the base is elevated for a peerless view past the electronically retracting Spirit of Ecstasy to the road ahead. It's also neatly situated behind the rear C-pillar for safety as well as privacy from aspiring paparazzi.

This sumptuous interior is crafted from the finest leather and timbers available, one reason why every Ghost took at least 20 days to build before it spent seven days being painted and polished to perfection. The cabin features elegant frosted lamps and chrome door handles, traditional 'violin key' switches and eyeball air vents, frosted white dials and refined instrumentation. At least eight hand-stitched hides were required for each car and all seats and interior panels are hand-stitched. Equally painstaking is the use of hand-sanded wood veneer with wood from only a single tree used in any given car so that each area ages and colours at the same pace.

At the wheel, you don't sit quite as high as you would in a Phantom but it's still a commanding perch. The arc of the bonnet means that it's difficult to see the front corners of the car and at 5.4-metres long and nearly 2-metres wide, this isn't the easiest thing to manoeuvre into tight spaces but you do quickly adjust, thanks to the large mirrors and the clever proximity sensors on the corners of the car. Boot space, at 490-litres, is usefully larger than you'd get in a Phantom.

What You Pay

Expect to pay handsomely for your used Ghost. Even an early 2010 model with a six-figure mileage will retail for around £63,000; prices go upwards from there. Some early examples now are on their fourth or fifth owner. You'll be paying in the £70,000-£85,000 bracket for a 2012-2013-era car - maybe up to £95,000 for up to a 2015-era car. Ideally though, your budget would stretch up to around £95,000-£110,000 for the best late-plate models. These figures are for guidance only. Almost all the cars you'll find will have been heavily optioned-up. Don't countenance over-ambitious valuations of highly personalisable extras.

What to Look For

Obviously, insist on a full service history and make sure that all scheduled work and interim services have been completed. If you can find an example with the balance of Rolls-Royce's own servicing plan on it, then obviously that's even better. There've been plenty of recorded examples of used Ghosts being 'clocked' (the odometers being tampered with) so make sure you're buying from a reputable source. Make sure that the engine ticks over smoothly; if it doesn't, this could signal a problem with the injectors (known to fail); the fix is costly - around £5,000 including coils and plugs. Poor tickover could also be caused by carbon fouling of the valve seats. Ideally, get an expert to inspect the turbo oil pipes and the cooling pipes for leaks. And for oil leaks for the rear main seal between the engine and transmission. Check that the car sits properly on its air suspension. And that all the electrical software updates have been carried out. Inspect the body for botched repairs and irregular shut-lines. Inspect the cabin for water damage caused by poor-fitting from and rear screens. Signs of this include condensation and baggy seat leather caused by dissolving glue.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2010 Ghost - ex VAT) Brakes are especially expensive; discs cost around £500 a corner and pads are around £400 each, front and rear. Brake discs tend to last about 20,000 miles. A replacement damper is around £2,500 including labour and reprogramming. pollen filter is around £45, an oil filter is around £35, an appropriate battery is around £210 and a gas discharge headlight bulb is around £144. Tyres are expensive of course, so check that the car is wearing the right Goodyear rubber.

On the Road

A Rolls Royce. And a driver's car. Can the two things go together? When you press the satin chrome starter, the 563bhp twin-turbo V12 (borrowed from BMW's 760i but bored out to 6.6-litres) spins into action as silently as you would expect it to but from then on, there are surprises in store. Even a modest prod from your right foot into the deep pile carpet sees 780Nm of torque hurl two and a half tonnes of automotive real estate at the horizon with unseemly haste, sixty from rest delivered in what seems like supercar speed - just 4.7s. Sure enough, this car will go on to crest 100mph as quickly as an Audi R8.

You find yourself overtaking slower traffic on the shortest straights, the almost endless reserves of surging thrust illustrated by the power reserve gauge that replaces the usual rev counter. At its launch, this was the fastest Rolls Royce yet made, but straight line speed you might expect. Cornering finesse is rather more difficult to achieve in a car of this size and weight. But not impossible. This isn't a sports saloon but thanks to adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars, you do find corners disappearing beneath the wheels as easily as bumps are dispatched via electronically controlled air suspension so sensitive that it can detect a rear seat passenger swapping sides. Too sensitive perhaps on the worst surfaces but otherwise, the ride is as serene as you'd expect.

Aside from that, there's a whole series of complex electronic stability, brake and traction control aids to keep your Ghost composed on virtually any surface. And instead of the six-speed ZF automatic transmission you'd find on a Phantom from this era, there's a more modern eight-speed system marshalled by a slender lever on the steering column. For our taste, the steering is rather light, but even so, it's a set-up sufficient to provide rewarding feedback. It's worth mentioning that the updated 'Ghost II' of 2014 gained a 'Dynamic Driving package' and 'Satellite Aided Transmission'. Whatever Ghost you choose, perhaps the best way of summarising it is to say that were we fortunate enough to employ a chauffeur, he or she would be getting plenty of days off.

Overall

If money really is no object and you're looking for the ultimate motorcar, Rolls-Royce is a good place to start. The company builds vehicles on a completely different plane to most other manufacturers, making sure that the products deliver the unbridled luxury that its customer base expects. In this sense, there's nothing too unusual about the Ghost. A smaller and slightly sportier Rolls-Royce than the imperious Phantom, the car achieves a mix of refinement, performance and high technology that's almost scary.

There were concerns that BMW's ownership of the famous British brand would result in this 'baby Rolls' being dumbed down into little more than a rebadged BMW 7 Series but they proved unfounded. Each Ghost produced was the result of the labours of 60 skilled crafts men and women, each with their own areas of expertise, and took 20 days to complete. In the era of highly automated production lines, this labour intensity was a throwback to a different age but Rolls-Royce customers would expect nothing less. Which makes this car very desirable indeed; even as a used buy.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Join the RAC and get breakdown cover, we fix 4 out of 5 vehicles at the roadside!

RAC Breakdown Cover
RAC Breakdown Cover

*For new, single personal based cover. Standard monthly cover on a fixed 18 month plan from £5.75 a month. Ends 25/10/21, 7am.