2021 Rolls-Royce: behold the new Ghost of the present

James Raia

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost was parked in front of Roxie Deli in Sacramento. It’s old-school, defined by robust sandwiches, barbecue, brisket, homemade sides and an intoxicating aroma permeating the immediate neighborhood.

A teenage boy who witnessed a friend and me exit the opulent luxury sedan approached us in line at lunch. He looked at my colleague and said: “Excuse me, sir. What kind of job do I need to get to afford a car like that?”

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost marks the debut of the luxury carmaker's entry-level sedan's second generation. All images © Gretchen Gaither/2021.
The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost marks the debut of the luxury carmaker’s entry-level sedan’s second generation. All images © Gretchen Gaither/2021.

A few hours later while waiting in the Ghost at a stoplight two men in the battered vehicle to my right caught my attention. Before the light changed, they uncorked a jubilant dance of synchronized hand signs and body gestures. I didn’t know what the display meant, but I’m certain it was a good thing.

2021 Rolls-Royce attracts attention

The next day, a half-dozen medical workers in scrubs and smoking outside of a local hospital, turned their heads in unison to watch the Ghost cruise past.

Far more expensive vehicles exist. Yet Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, except for some not-so-long-ago inconsistent years, has maintained its lofty status since debuting in 1904. Its parent company is now BMW. German-born Torsten Müller-Ötvös has been CEO of the British carmaker since 2010.

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost has bespoke wood trim and many other luxurious interior features.
The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost has bespoke wood trim and many other luxurious interior features.

Rolls-Royce defines artwork on wheels. The entry-level Ghost and siblings Cullinan, Dawn, Phantom and Wraith attract attention like no other carmaker’s offerings. Global sales of 5,125 in 2020 continued the brand’s reputation. It’s a name everyone knows, a car few see.

The Cullinan, the company’s first SUV, debuted in 2018. It catapulted sales to record levels. The Ghost is described as the carmaker’s “purest expression.”

Who’s to argue? Newness abounds this year in the long-anticipated five-passenger sedan’s second generation. The so-called entry-level Rolls Royce was the brand’s top-seller for the previous decade.

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost has many color options, including Tempes Grey with purple trim.
The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost has many color options, including Tempest Grey with a Tailored Purple trim.

The new Ghost features a 6.75-liter, twin-turbo, 48-valve V12. It produces 563 horsepower and advances from zero to 60 miles per hour, via its eight-speed automatic transmission, in 4.6 seconds. Top speed is 155 miles per hour. The drive is powerful, smooth, quiet and carried on 21-inch, 10-spoke wheels. And while the wheels spin, the RR center emblems remain upright.

It’s all impressive for a vehicle that weighs 5,540 pounds and extends slightly more than 18 feet.

The sedan’s performance could define it, but the Ghost’s presence reigns. The combination of the Tempest Grey exterior paint with Tailored Purple trim is unusual, but it worked. Similar colors adorned the interior, complemented with Obsidian Ayous wood trim and white lambswool foot mats.


The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost is slightly longer than 18 feet.
The 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost is slightly longer than 18 feet.

A few Rolls-Royce signature features added ridiculously wonderful opulence. An umbrella, released with the push of a button, is secured into the interior of both rear “suicide” doors. Two champagne flutes are ready in the cooled small refrigerated compartment in the middle of the back seat.

The headliner was the design of a shooting star. But lots of constellations are offered, a bespoke feature selected by every new buyer and configured with between 600 and 1,600 hand-placed fiber-optic stars. Lean back with your head on a pillow-plush headrest, ponder Orion, Sagittarius, or whatever, and forget about the coronavirus for a while.

If that doesn’t do it, listen to the symphony-worthy sound system and hear new individual instruments in familiar songs. Use the individual veneer-adorned “picnic tables” available to rear-seat passengers. They work like airliner dining trays, although the comparison is an unintentional insult to Rolls-Royce. After eating or computer use or card-playing is done, a massage is a wise choice. Seat settings provide the service for all occupants.

At best, the Ghost may advance 19 miles on a gallon of premium fuel. It doesn’t matter.

The proud Rolls-Royce, with its gleaming large front grille and retractable flying lady hood beacon, is a $332,500 masterpiece, embellished with nearly $100,000 in extras. It’s for select buyers who know exactly what they want and buy it. Respect follows.


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Article Last Updated: March 5, 2021.

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