Earlier today, the Rolls Royce Motor Company finally cut the teasers short and unveiled the 2021 Rolls Royce Ghost. Building on the already impressive numbers and specs, the opluent sedan has to offer, the latest version is a step beyond.
Proprietary Aluminium Spaceframe Architecture The marque’s designers, engineers and craftspeople demanded the freedom to create a very specific personality for new Ghost. These men and women were only able to create an authentically super-luxury product without the constraints of platforms used to underpin lesser, high-volume vehicles. Hence, the Rolls-Royce proprietary aluminium spaceframe architecture.
Reserved exclusively for Rolls-Royce, this architecture already underpins its flagship, Phantom, and its transformative SUV, Cullinan. The spaceframe’s flexibility and scalability freed the marque to serve the unique aesthetic and mechanical demands of 2021 Rolls Royce Ghost, and in doing so created an acoustically superior, highly rigid and dynamic proposition for Ghost within the RollsRoyce product portfolio.
In its most pared back form, the Rolls-Royce architecture is based around four fixed points, one at each corner of the motor car. The moveable aluminium bulkhead, floor, crossmembers and sill panels were positioned specifically to ensure new Ghost meets client expectations as a motor car that is equally enjoyable to drive as it is to be driven in. Two of the cast suspension mounting assembles were pushed to the very front of new Ghost, placing its 6.75-litre V12 behind the front axle to achieve an optimum 50/50 weight distribution.
To accommodate this without intruding on new Ghost’s interior suite, its overall length has grown by 89mm, compared to the first Goodwood Ghost, to 5546mm, and its overall width has grown by 30mm to 1978mm. Significant changes were also made to the double-skinned bulkhead and floor structure packaging.
These were undertaken to incorporate an all-wheel drivetrain, all-wheel steering and completely redesigned Planar Suspension System, which further enhances the marque’s hallmark Magic Carpet Ride. This was achieved without compromising the motor car’s low centre of gravity, which aids cornering dynamics.
6.75-Litre Twin-Turbocharged V12
Client feedback asking for near-instant torque and near-silent running led the marque to further develop the Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine. A bespoke 2021 Rolls Royce Ghost engine map was created to ensure ample performance for this dynamic motor car, delivering 563bhp/420kW and 850Nm/627lb ft of torque to the all-wheel steer, all-wheel drivetrain.
Planar Suspension System
The marque’s hallmark Magic Carpet Ride has evolved. For new Ghost, engineering specialists redesigned the motor car’s suspension completely to deliver what is called the Planar Suspension System. Named after a geometric plane, which is completely flat and level, the system is the result of ten collective years of testing and development to create a sense of flight on land never before achieved by a motor car.
The Upper Wishbone Damper alone was the result of five collective years of road and bench testing. Reserved exclusively for Rolls-Royce, this technology further evolves the marque’s double-wishbone Magic Carpet Ride suspension system. The ethos of the marque’s founder, Sir Henry Royce, was “Take the best that exists and make it better,” and in this spirit chassis specialists developed the Upper Wishbone Damper to further improve the continuously variable, electronically controlled shock absorbers and the self-levelling high-volume air strut assembles. It has never before been applied to a production motor car.
The five-link rear axle benefits from the same self-levelling high-volume air suspension technology, as well as rear-wheel steering. Both axles are managed via the marque’s Planar software. This also governs new Ghost’s other chassis technologies, including the all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, stability control and self-drying braking systems, to ensure the motor car is reacting as one to changes in surfaces or grip levels while also maintaining a spirited, dynamic personality.
The Planar software also manages information that requires new Ghost to proactively adapt to intrusions in the road ahead. The first of these technologies is the marque’s Flagbearer system. Evocative of the men who were required by law to carry a red flag ahead of early motor cars, this technology consists of a stereo camera system integrated in the windscreen to see the road ahead, adjusting suspension proactively rather than reactively up to 100km/h. The second is Rolls-Royce’s Satellite Aided Transmission system, which draws GPS data to pre-select the optimum gear for upcoming corners. The result is unprecedented levels of ride comfort and control for a motor car.
Rolls-Royce clients have enjoyed self-closing doors since the first Goodwood Phantom. Operated by a button on the dashboard and on the C-pillar for motor cars with rear doors, this innovation has been celebrated among customers. For new Ghost, the marque’s engineers elected to further develop this hallmark technology and, for the first time, clients can now also open the doors with power assistance.
Clients first open the door with one pull of the interior handle, then allow the handle to return to its resting position while they check for potential hazards, and then pull and hold it for full power assistance on opening. Once the door is opened sufficiently for the client’s egress, they simply stop pulling the handle, which engages a door brake.
Once the client has alighted, they are able to close the door completely automatically at the push of a button on the exterior door handle. If they prefer to close the door manually, the operation is power assisted. On-board longitudinal and transverse sensors, as well as G-force sensors fitted to each door, allow the same speed of operation regardless of hill or driveway angles.
Micro-Environment Purification System
The new 2021 Rolls Royce Ghost benefits from a new Micro-Environment Purification System (MEPS). Existing air filtration technology was further developed to incorporate a full suite of hardware and software improvements. Highly sensitive Impurity Detection Sensors were introduced to detect ambient air quality, automatically switching fresh air intakes to Recirculation Mode if unacceptable levels of airborne contaminants are present. This channels all cabin air through a nanofleece filter, which is capable of removing nearly all ultra-fine particles from the Rolls-Royce’s microenvironment in less than two minutes.
The Most Technologically Advanced Rolls-Royce Yet
New Ghost is perfect in its simplicity, but creating this pure and detoxifying environment was one of the greatest challenges in the marque’s history. Indeed, new Ghost is the most technologically advanced motor car Rolls-Royce has ever produced. Further equipment includes: LED and laser headlights with more than 600m of illuminated range, vision assist, including dayand night-time wildlife and pedestrian warning; alertness assistant; a four-camera system with panoramic view, all-round visibility and helicopter view; active cruise control; collision warning; cross-traffic warning; lane departure and lane change warning; an industry-leading 7×3 highresolution head-up display; Wi-Fi hotspot; self-park; and the very latest navigation and entertainment systems.
Pursuing this minimalist aesthetic for new Ghost was the design team’s absolute objective throughout. The desired treatment was not sterile, but confident in its purity and unmistakeably belonging to a Rolls-Royce. This begins with the car’s first impression. Rolls-Royce’s proprietary architecture allowed the design team to increase the width by 30mm, subtly communicating presence. This is framed by sharp bow lines that intersect with an angular light signature, creating an assertive yet beautiful front end.
In addition, the new 2021 Rolls Royce Ghost was given its own ethereal front-end character. This was achieved not by way of overt design, but with light. 20 LEDS underneath the top of the radiator grille subtly illuminate the veins. During the development phase, early prototypes were over-effective and the light reflecting from the polished uprights looked too striking. In the spirit of Post Opulent aesthetics, the marque’s engineering team brushed the back of the metal grille bars, making them less reflective, subduing the effect and perfecting the restrained glow desired.
The front of new Ghost is an exemplar of the design team’s obsession with reduction. Owing to the hand-welded aluminium body structures, the main structure of the car appears as one fluid canvas, uninterrupted by shut lines, recalling the coachbuilt Silver Dawn and Silver Cloud. For the first time, the Spirit of Ecstasy is not surrounded by panel lines but rather stands sits within her own ‘lake’ of bonnet.
Turning to the flanks, a single straight stroke is used to emphasise the motor car’s length. The lower ‘waft line’ borrows from boat design and uses reflection to lighten the surfacing and create a pure, uncomplicated sense of motion.
Moving to the glasshouse, it is wilfully neutral, with both doors sharing an equally proportioned window graphic, gesturing that new Ghost strikes a balance as both a driver-oriented and a chauffeur-driven car. A subtly arched roof line gently proclaims its dynamic intent. The rear end follows this sense of movement and resolves in a taper.
The subtle near-square rear light graphic has become a tenet of contemporary Rolls-Royce design. It remains, but has been modernised with a slight forward tilt. Not surrounded by shut lines, it appears as if it is an island within the painted surface.
A clear understanding of clients’ changing luxury consumption patterns and a broader view of emerging design movements informed the marque that the interior aesthetic should pursue the same minimalist principles as the exterior. Busy details and superficial embellishments were rejected not only to create a more relaxing refuge, but to better celebrate the material substance and maximise the impact of bespoke colour personalisation.
However, creating an environment defined by reduction, simplicity and elegance is an extremely complex endeavour. It also relies on sourcing the very finest materials; leathers, woods and metals left unembellished will invite the scrutiny of these most discerning of clients. To this end, each of the 20 half hides used to create the interior suite of new Ghost are subject to the automotive industry’s most exhaustive quality control checks to ensure that each of the 338 panels used – however visible – is of the very best quality. Further demonstrating the marque’s competence in leathercraft, complex, busy stitchwork has been eschewed for scant but incredibly long and perfectly straight lines, again welcoming scrutiny from the marque’s clients.
Wood sets for new Ghost are available in an open-pore finish, bravely showcasing materials in their naked form. Indeed, two new finishes have been developed specifically for the motor car. The first is Obsidian Ayous, inspired by the rich versatility of colours found in lava rock. The second is Dark Amber; this introduces subtle glamour to the interior suite by integrating veins of fine aluminium particles into the dark wood. As with the leather finishes, this material is left exposed as long, single-veneer leaves, bisected only by cold-to-the-touch real metal vents, through which MEPS-filtered air reaches the cabin.
For new Ghost, the marque’s Bespoke Collective of designers, engineers and craftspeople created Illuminated Fascia: a world-first innovation that subtly echoes the Starlight Headliner, which has become as much a part of Rolls-Royce iconography as the Spirit of Ecstasy, Pantheon Grille and ‘Double R’ monogram.
Developed over the course of two years and more than 10,000 collective hours, this remarkable piece brings an ethereal glowing Ghost nameplate, surrounded by more than 850 stars, into the interior suite of the motor car. Located on the passenger side of the dashboard, the constellation and wordmark are completely invisible when the interior lights are not in operation.
Perfectly attuned to new Ghost’s Post Opulent design treatment, the Bespoke Collective chose not to use simple screen technology to achieve the effect they desired. Instead, they embarked on creating a highly complex and true luxury innovation. The illumination itself comes from 152 LEDs mounted above and beneath the fascia, each meticulously colour matched to the cabin’s clock and instrument dial lighting. To ensure the Ghost wordmark is lit evenly, a 2mm-thick light guide is used, featuring more than 90,000 laser-etched dots across the surface. This not only disperses the light evenly but creates a twinkling effect as the eye moves across the fascia, echoing the subtle sparkle of the Starlight Headliner.