Driven: Rolls-Royce Ghost

Rolls-Royce Ghost Last weekend, I discovered that there are few sounds more sickening than the very specific one of a Rolls-Royce having its undercarriage ripped out by a loose paving slab on a driveway. It’s a sort of fingernails-down-blackboard sound, only the blackboard in question is worth more than some houses. Yes, of all the cars I have driven in six years at Telegraph Motoring, this one, worth approximately £260,000, is the one I have pranged. Inevitable, you might say.

Still, Rolls-Royce was typically elegant and understated in its response, with the classic line, “It’s only a car.” And only your bank balance in shreds, although I doubt that sheikhs, sultans and Lord Sugar would notice a few grand gone on repairs.

With the remainder of the protective underskirt tucked up inside the chassis, I spent Easter driving from relative to relative, and driveway to garage, so I could park this monumental tribute to British engineering, class and subtlety out of sight overnight.

It’s hard to believe that something weighing 2.5 tons, with a V12 engine, can be subtle, and yet the interior of the car belies its in-your-face grill and arrogant Spirit of Ecstasy perched on the driver’s horizon, with a relatively minimalist design that, with the satnav/audio display, is a reminder of the BMW parentage, and a tiny bit disappointing. For £260k, I’d like to feel I was sitting in the American Bar at The Savoy, or even in the Phantom, which has so much more occasion about it. I do not want to feel like I’m in a bespoke 7-series.

Still, the back of a Rolls-Royce remains a suave place. An ocean liner’s worth of “crème light” leather beckons you in, the navy lambswool carpet is deep and soft, wood-and-chrome picnic tables unfurl from the seats in front, televisions tilt up, vanity mirrors encourage you to pause and a discreet button marked “door” does away with the plebeian notion of pulling your own door closed. The centre armrest houses individual controls for the rear television, satnav and music functions and, in this extended wheelbase version, there is enough rear legroom to do the cancan if the mood takes you.

Driving a Roller is a rarefied moment. You sit at a height between that of hatchback and SUV, a wafer-thin steering wheel in your hands, slender gear selector to your right, and chrome switches all around.

The 563bhp engine purrs, the steering wheel spins effortlessly to lighten the load of those gigantic wheels, and the suspension shows just what can be done with a car’s chassis if enough money is thrown at it. The ride is regal, floaty and utterly beguiling. Needless to say, the Ghost is virtually silent on the move.

Only one small downer: stupidly large wing mirrors, too near the driver, block a view of approaching cars from the right at junctions. So, although I was going to buy one, I’ve decided against.

Rolls-Royce Ghost extended wheelbase

Price: £260,000

Telegraph rating: Five out of five stars

By Erin Baker ,The Telegraph