Conjure up in your mind, if you will, some of the finest seats in the house.
For opera lovers, that could be a box at La Scala in Milan, with Bocelli on lead vocals. For sports fans, it might be courtside at a Lakers game, sharing popcorn with Jack Nicholson. Or how about seat 1A on the first Virgin Galactic flight, boldly going into inner space? The list is endless.
Myself, I’d happily opt for the backseat of the latest Rolls-Royce Ghost Extended Wheelbase, feet submerged in the furry luxury of those lambswool rugs, seat massager set on full-Helga and maybe a little Bocelli played through the car’s 600-watt stereo. Ah, Vivare.
While you’d never describe the backseat of the standard Ghost as cramped, it is, shall we say, a little on the cozy side. All that changes with the arrival of the EWB, or Extended Wheelbase. The car gets a 6.7-inch stretch, which essentially doubles the rear-pew legroom from 6.3 inches to an NBA-approved 13 inches.
Yet the beauty of execution is that this new longer Ghost doesn’t look like some prom-queen stretched Town Car. With the rear doors just 1.3 inches longer than the fronts, everything appears totally in proportion. Some would say the extra length adds even more visual elegance to the lines. A little like Gisele Bündchen sliding into 6-inch Manolos.
Now when you open one of the Ghost’s rear-hinged “coach” doors, step gracefully into the back and slide easily into the leather Barcalounger, you enter a world of complete and utter stretch-out hedonism.
The seats themselves are just magnificent, offering the ability to cool, massage, recline and fully cosset their occupants. And they’re positioned in such a way that you sit behind the door pillar, shielded from evil paparazzi or the gaze of passing gawkers.
Stretching the Ghost has added around 130 pounds to the car’s waistline. But when you have a 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 nuclear reactor under the hood punching out 563 horsepower and a mighty 575 pound-feet of torque, it’s hardly of consequence.
Now when you bury the accelerator in the lambswool, you’ll lunge from standstill to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. That, according to Rolls, is a mere 0.1 seconds slower than the standard car. Big deal.
What’s still hard to put into meaningful words is the absolutely breathtaking thrust that’s delivered by this big-bore version of BMW’s direct-injection 12-cylinder. The fact that its acceleration is in near total silence only adds to the experience. Think rock from a catapult, fighter off a carrier deck, express elevator up the Empire State Building. Similar, but different.
Maybe it’s the sheer effortlessness of its forward motion that astounds the most. See the gap in the traffic five cars ahead, squeeze the throttle, feel the near-imperceptible kickdown of the eight-speed automatic and the sensation of being squeezed hard into the seatback. Boy, this buggy moves. Disney’s Space Mountain doesn’t even come close.
And if you absolutely must drive, the Ghost will surprise and delight with its near sports sedan-like responses. This is a whopper of a car that somehow shrivels in size the faster you go. With much of its go-faster technology sourced from BMW—the air suspension, the electronic variable damping, the active roll stabilization, the dynamic chassis control and smart brakes—it simply goes where you point it.
You’ll pay $290,000 for a “base” Ghost Extended Wheelbase—$40,000 more than the standard car—to which you need to add $2,000 for delivery and $1,700 for gas-guzzler. Check a few options boxes, like $2,850 for those must-have picnic tables and $6,450 for individual rear seats instead of the standard bench, and you’ll be up to $325,000 before you know it.
Why not stretch to a flagship Phantom for another $55,000? To me, the Ghost has more appeal because it feels much less ostentatious, less grandiose, less Simon Cowell (who owns two). And somehow more youthful, more of a daily driver.
But really, front seat or back, in this long Ghost there isn’t a bad seat in the house.