Connect with us

Autos

What $102,375 in extras adds to the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

Published

on

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost starts at $337,850 when factoring in the destination fee and $2,600 gas-guzzler tax. The tester I pimped around for 48 hours cost $440,225. That’s $102,375 worth of options. Rather than options such as a hand-crafted analog clock ($6,200) and power-operated picnic tables ($5,325), buyers could choose an excellent sports car or luxury car. But that other car wouldn’t be a Rolls-Royce. 

My kids couldn’t understand why this rolling fantasy was worth more than our house and all its contents, and my dad couldn’t understand why I wasn’t protecting it under cover at home and sneaking whisper kisses along its flawless, nearly line-less body.

It’s a sedan, after all, with four wheels and a steering wheel, meant to be driven. Even though the new Ghost is about $20,000 more expensive than the outgoing model, which makes the new Cullinan SUV the least expensive Rolls, it doesn’t matter. No Rolls-Royce client, as they’re called by Rolls-Royce, will emerge from the dealership paying the base price. That would be common, and that’s the last thing wanted by the British brand that prides itself on exclusivity.

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

I tried explaining this to my generations. The folks out of Goodwood focus more on high-end customization than volume. Volume dilutes the very thing that drives clients to the brand. In 2019, Rolls-Royce increased sales 25% and broke a record by selling 5,152 vehicles, fueled by the Cullinan. Yet, Rolls-Royce is pleased with the pandemic-constrained downtick in 2020, when it sold only 3,756 vehicles. 

“2020 was a great year for us,” Gerry Spahn, spokesperson for Rolls-Royce said in an intimate press gathering in Chicagoland in March. 

Many of the vehicles commissioned in 2020 were custom made, as exemplified by the Koa Phantom Extended. The commission featured interior trim accents and a picnic “hamper” made of rare Koa wood grown only in Hawaii that could not be harvested by law until it died of natural causes. The Koa Phantom Extended extended the starting price from $535,000 into the multi-millions, though Rolls-Royce won’t tell us how much. 

It follows that the first new Ghost since 2009—launched during the last global economic downturn—must be special. Rolls-Royce says it only shares two parts with the outgoing model: its umbrellas ($1,600) and power-retractable Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament (illuminated, too, for $4,800 more). That theft-proof ornament is, in itself, a mechanical marvel. 

As is the V-12 that may be new to the Ghost but not to other Rolls-Royce models. The 6.75-liter twin-turbo V-12 generates the same 563 hp as the 6.6-liter in the outgoing Ghost, but the torque increases from 603 lb-ft to 627 lb-ft, and it comes on as low as 1,600 rpm. On its aluminum architecture and standard air suspension with a front upper wishbone sandwiching dampers between another upper wishbone, the Ghost floats. Or it can be opened up to tip 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, which is remarkable for a car that weighs 5,628 pounds. 

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

That’s all fine and good and you can read about it here or here, but the effortless performance is only a small part of what makes any Ghost special. It’s the customization, regardless of logic. 

For Rolls-Royce money you get what you want how you want it where you want it. Start in the rear seats, where the wood picnic tables finished with leather (and embossed with the Spirit of Ecstasy for $2,050) fold out from the front seat backs for rear seat sultans. Tablet-sized touchscreens then emerge from the seat backs as part of the Ghost Package ($31,125). From there you can control the 18-speaker, 1300-watt bespoke audio system ($10,575) and immersive seating experience with power recliners and massagers ($10,425). The tester came  with a third seat instead of a champagne bucket with crystal glasses and a refrigerator. Options beget options.

Yet, perfection remains an ideal more than a reality, no matter the options. The ventilated rear seats ($1,925) are roomy enough for napping, but not for working. I tried both. Napping under the Starlight Headliner that resembled a starry, starry night, replete with shooting stars, soothed weary eyes, especially because it’s standard fare on the Ghost. The nearly 42 inches of rear leg room matches the second-row leg room in the redesigned Chevrolet Suburban full-size SUV, so it’s exceedingly roomy. Putting a laptop on the table and working is cramped, however, but at least there’s lamb’s wool underfoot and gorgeous purple stitching and monogrammed headrests of “Arctic” leather. For rear productivity, clients would do well to commission the forthcoming Ghost Extended or the larger Phantom. 

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

Getting out of the seats might be the only thing that requires effort. The doors will open if you pull the handle twice and hold the handle as it extends away from you. Gliding a finger over the door handle sensors unlocks the doors but doesn’t magically open them. Once seated in the driver’s position, you can close the doors from buttons on the beautiful center console. However, I was surprised to find I couldn’t adjust the passenger’s seating position, and felt entitled to be able to open the passenger door with a simple button push as well. That’s not the case. Front passengers have to let themselves in and out or wait until the chauffeur gets out and walks around the car to do it.

Goes to show that even when treated to the best, there’s always the desire for more.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Autos

NASCAR Next Gen race car debuts, brings the sport into the 21st century

Published

on

Chevrolet NASCAR Next Gen Camaro ZL1 race car

The top NASCAR Cup Series has just taken a massive leap out of the dark ages.

On Wednesday, the NASCAR Next Gen race car debuted as a clean-sheet rethink of what the stock car is. The structure, design, suspension, materials, wheels, and transmission are all new.

The clean-sheet design has a lower greenhouse, a shortened decklid, and a wider track, though the current car’s 110-inch wheelbase carries over. NASCAR gave automakers the latitude to stylize the greenhouse to look like the production cars upon which these race cars are based, be it the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, or Toyota Camry.

“From an engineering standpoint, this is a seismic shift. It’s a completely new car that brings with it a lot of opportunity from a technical standpoint,” said Eric Warren, Chevrolet director of NASCAR Programs.

Chevrolet NASCAR Next Gen Camaro ZL1 race car

Up front, the side air intakes are now functional and they, along with the front center intake, now feed the engine as well as the brakes. There’s no longer an intake at the cowl near the base of the windshield, which feeds the engine on the current car. NASCAR has also mandated a symmetrical design of the composite body, which will remove the current aero advantage achieved by using different shapes for the left and right sides of the current cars. NASCAR says that will put the emphasis back on the car’s setup and driver’s skill.

Another important visual change is the new center-locking 18×12-inch forged aluminum wheels that will be wrapped in Goodyear Eagle rubber. The current car runs on 15-inch wheels. The larger wheels with smaller tire sidewalls will dramatically change the handling of the Next Gen car, but Toyota TRD Racing Development’s team noted that automakers really wanted the larger wheels to help make the style appear closer to production cars.

The larger wheels allow NASCAR to require larger brakes with 15-inch rotors and 6-piston monoblock calipers up front and 14-inch rotors and 4-piston monobloc calipers in the rear.

Toyota TRD Camry Next Gen NASCAR race car

Toyota TRD Camry Next Gen NASCAR race car

Toyota TRD Camry Next Gen NASCAR race car

Toyota TRD Camry Next Gen NASCAR race car

Toyota TRD Camry Next Gen NASCAR race car

Toyota TRD Camry Next Gen NASCAR race car

What can’t be seen is the modular structure. While the current car’s steel tube chassis carries over, the Next Gen car features a modular construction (like a modern production car) with bolt-on front and rear subframes that should make repairs after a crash easier and less expensive. The underside of the car features a full carbon-fiber undertray with a stepped center splitter and a new rear diffuser, which is all modular and can be replaced in the event of a crash.

New independent front and rear suspensions use a double-wishbone configuration, billet aluminum control arms, and adjustable coil-over shock absorbers. The previous car had a 2-link live rear axle. The steering system is now a modern rack and pinion design instead of recirculating ball.

President of TRD Toyota Racing Development David Wilson told Motor Authority, “The significance of the Next Gen for Toyota TRD would be difficult to explain given that over the course of a year, or year-over-year, the car raced will see more change than the NASCAR race car has seen in over the last 50 years.”

The 358 cubic-inch naturally aspirated V-8 carries over with 670 hp or 550 hp depending on the track. The engine continues with fuel injection, a dry sump oiling system, and split-side exit exhaust. The transmission, however, is new. It’s a 5-speed sequential transaxle with a gearshift but not a clutch. The setup will still require drivers to remove one hand from the steering wheel and match revs to shift.

NASCAR Next Gen race car

NASCAR Next Gen race car

New rules state that each team can have a maximum of seven cars rather than the unlimited number previously allowed. Wilson noted that additional cost savings will arise from the car being standardized as teams will no longer need large fabrication operations. “There’s nothing stock about a stock car,” executive engineer for TRD Toyota Racing Development Andy Graves joked, but there are now about 30 suppliers that teams can buying parts from, and those parts can’t be modified or touched once bought.

While the driver seat and roof flaps are carried over, the Next Gen car has improved safety gear. Additional roll bars have been designed along with form-fitted foam inserts between the chassis and nose and tail like what is found in production cars. The driver seat has been moved closer to the center of the car to move drivers away from the source of impacts.

NASCAR didn’t go into specifics but noted the Next Gen car has been upgraded to allow for in-car cameras in every vehicle so fans can see more real-time data.

While development of the Next Gen race car was completed in February, it won’t make its racing debut until the start of the 2022 season in February at the Daytona International Speedway.

Continue Reading

Autos

Adorable Citroen Ami coming to US

Published

on

2020 Citroen Ami

Free2Move, a global mobility company owned by Stellantis, is bringing the adorable Citroen Ami to its car-sharing fleet in the United States.

Before you get too excited, note that only five of the electric minicars are being brought over to be used in a trial in Washington, D.C., where Free2Move currently operates a fleet of Chevrolets. The company plans to expand its U.S. fleet to Portland, Oregon, but hasn’t confirmed a date.

Free2Move is committed to electrifying its fleet and will use the Citroen Ami trial to gather feedback on usability and drivability for such a tiny car on U.S. roads, the company said on Monday. In case you’ve forgotten, the Ami measures just 7.9 feet in length, tops out at 28 mph, and has a 5.5-kilowatt-hour battery good for only about 43 miles of range.

2020 Citroen Ami

Free2Move customers book cars via a dedicated app. Parking, gas, and insurance are included in the cost of each vehicle rental. Rental rates are based on how long a customer has a vehicle, on a per minute, per hour, or per day basis.

Confirmation of the Ami’s arrival in the U.S. coincides with the reveal of a commercial version of the Ami. Called the Ami Cargo, the vehicle matches most of the specs of the standard Ami but has a storage area instead of a passenger seat. The maximum payload rating is 308 pounds and there’s over 14 cubic feet when you include the standard storage area in the rear.

The Ami Cargo starts sales in Europe this June with a price tag of 6,490 (approximately $7,800), or 410 euros less than the standard Ami.

Continue Reading

Autos

Self-driving technology company Argo AI makes lidar breakthrough

Published

on

Argo AI lidar technology

Argo AI, the self-driving technology company backed by Ford and Volkswagen Group, claims to have overcome one of the main challenges holding back the deployment of driverless cars: accurately seeing and identifying objects at long distances.

The company on Tuesday announced its own lidar sensor, aptly named Argo Lidar, which it says can accurately spot and identify objects more than 1,300 feet away, or about 300 feet more than current lidar sensors—something that’s vital for highway driving. Argo Lidar is said to be so accurate that it can even correctly identify graffiti on a wall or spot small moving objects such as animals among vegetation and static objects.

Most players in this space rely on a combination of sensors to guide self-driving cars, with the primary ones being cameras and lidar. While cameras work well at long distances, they don’t work well in poor light, for example during night driving or inclement weather. While lidar doesn’t suffer the same light issues as cameras, the technology until now was limited by its range and accuracy.

Argo AI lidar technology

The key breakthrough in the case of Argo Lidar is a technology referred to as Geiger-mode, which Argo AI acquired in 2017 via its acquisition of lidar technology company Princeton Lightwave. Geiger-mode lidar is able to detect the smallest particle of light—a single photon—and as a result is able to detect the darkest of objects. Argo Lidar also operates at a relatively high wavelength of 1,400 nanometers, which also helps accuracy.

Argo AI already has prototypes fitted with Argo Lidar testing on public roads. The testing is taking place at six U.S. cities, with more locations, including the first in Europe, to be added this year.

Argo AI is developing a full self-driving system comprising both software and hardware. Ford is expected to be the first company to offer a commercial service using Argo AI’s self-driving system. The service was originally due to be deployed in 2021 but has been pushed back to 2022 due to the pandemic. VW Group has said it will offer a driverless taxi service powered by Argo AI’s self-driving system in 2025.

Continue Reading

Trending