Smart yet simple - this is the new 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost
Words by Rob Chilton
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Clean lines, an uncluttered control panel and a volume knob from a 1970s radio
Mamdouh Khairallah admits he was once sceptical about Rolls-Royce cars. Were they really that good? Why were they so expensive? These were the questions in his mind before he joined the company in 2015.
“My career began with BMW, Nissan and Ford, makers that were all about volume,” begins Khairallah, Rolls-Royce GM in Dubai. “It was about getting people from A to B with no hassle. When I joined Rolls-Royce in 2015 I wondered why pay four times the price of a BMW for a Rolls-Royce? Then I drove one.” Khairallah chuckles, “You drive the car but you don’t feel the road.”
In 2009 Khairallah visited Rolls-Royce HQ in Goodwood, England to test drive the Ghost. The technician in the passenger seat nodded to Khairallah’s colleague sitting in the back and said he’d fall asleep. “Fifteen minutes into the drive, he was sleeping like a baby,” Khairallah grins. “It’s such a cosy environment.”
EDGAR took the 2021 Ghost for a spin and – while we thankfully managed to stay awake – we certainly felt pretty relaxed. Two cameras aimed at the road in front help the suspension to absorb bumps so the ride is almost weirdly smooth.
What’s striking about the interior that feels like a luxurious First Class plane cabin (lambswool footmats might persuade you to drive barefoot) is the absence of tech. Audio and visual controls are easy to learn; the volume knob is a substantial black dial smack bang in the middle of the dashboard with no markings – something that could almost belong to a 1970s radio.
“Our customers are wealthy, they have busy days and complicated lives, when they sit in a car they need to relax,” says Khairallah. “They don’t want the hassle of programming tech, they want simplicity.”
This chimes with Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös who said last year his clients want “luxury objects that celebrate reduction and restraint, that don’t shout but whisper.” Does Khairallah think the new Ghost achieves this aim?
“The age range of Rolls-Royce customers has widened,” he explains. “We used to be famous for our clients being older people who had retired, but that’s not the case anymore. Young people are tech savvy but they don’t want complicated tech in their cars. The Ghost does whisper, but it’s definitely sporty.” In fact, should the driver desire to hear the growl of the engine, a button can be pushed to allow the noise inside the car.
“The details and lines of the Ghost are like silk, you know?” says Khairallah. “It’s smooth, nothing interrupts your view – everything is in harmony.”