I’ve always been a bit of a Bentley man. Since Quentin Willson outlined just how inexpensive a Turbo R can be on Top Gear when I was seven, I have made it my ambition to own one of these cars at some point.
No mere Royce would do, it would have to be a Turbo R or RT. The immense power of these cars coupled to their girth and their splendour is, to me, an utterly irresistable package. Things are much the same when it comes to the Spirit/Turbo replacement, the Seraph and Arnage. I’ve always seen the Spirit of Ecstasy as a little nouveau riche when compared to the flying B.
Now, though, the tables seem to be turning – the bewinged lady seems to have become the beacon of good taste and the B on the bonnet of a Bentley could now be taken to mean ‘brash’.
The Bentley Continental range just seems to lack the grandeur that a Bentley should have – the je ne sais quoi that appeals so in the older Bentleys such as the Arnage and the Continental R. Nowadays you see far too many Continental GTs, GTCs and Flying Spurs pimped up to look like homages to bad taste and excessive wealth. The Mulsanne I wrote about some weeks ago seems to come pre-pimped, with wide chrome window surrounds, a tacky grille and chrome dinner plates masquerading as wheels.
I didn’t like the Phantom when it was launched some six years ago. I thought it was far too overt, too expensive and too tasteless for the true connoisseur. However, in a dark colour and on the right alloy wheels, it has matured into quite an attractive and restrained car.
Rolls-Royce seem to have pulled off the same trick with their new car: the Ghost. Set to retail at about £200,000, the car is pitched at Bentley Mulsanne customers and at those seeking to downsize from a Phantom to a car which measures only 17’8″ in length.
The Ghost is based upon a BMW 7-Series floorpan and a 6.6-litre twin turbo version of BMW’s V12 is it’s powerplant of choice. This results in over 560bhp and 575 lb ft of torque – more than you get in the Phantom and about the same as the Mulsanne is predicted to have. Using an eight speed – three or four too many for my liking if I’m honest – automatic gearbox, the car should accelerate to 60 in 4.7 seconds, the same as a Bentley Continental.
Cosmetically inside and out it’s basically a shrunken and slightly more sporting copy of the Phantom – not only more subtle than it’s larger sibling, but more subtle also than the new Mulsanne. Kit-wise, it’s unlikely potential owners will be left wanting – the electronic toys on offer include a 330-yard night vision camera and automatically dipping headlamps. The sound system has more speakers than my house and a 12.5GB hard drive for your mp3s. No doubt it will also be iPod compatible.
Convertible and Coupe variants should be announced following the car’s appearance at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show and the saloon will go on sale in the not too-far-distant future. Pimps and rap artists need not apply…