2014 Rolls-Royce Ghost

Everything in life is relative, and perhaps no car illustrates this point as effectively as the Rolls-Royce Ghost. While it's technically the "entry-level" Rolls-Royce model, the Ghost's $250,000 base price puts it in the stratosphere of the overall automotive market. Despite that MSRP, the sedan could actually be considered a bargain, at least in relation to the rest of the Rolls lineup - it offers more power, better handling and nearly as much space and cachet as the Phantom sedan for roughly $130,000 less.

Stretching 212.6 inches from bonnet to boot, the Ghost is the smallest model Rolls-Royce offers, yet it's still six inches longer than other full-size luxury yachts like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Buyers after more space can opt for the more expensive Extended Wheelbase (EWB) model that adds 6.7 inches of rear legroom.

With a massive front grille, a conspicuous "Spirit of Ecstasy" hood ornament and stately suicide rear doors, the Ghost isn't short on elegance or street presence, either.

While the Phantom Coupe is marketed as the driver's Rolls-Royce, in reality that distinction goes to the Ghost. A 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged and direct-injected V12 lies under the long bonnet, producing a stupendous 563 horsepower (110 ponies more than the Phantom) and 575 lb-ft of torque. With an eight-speed automatic gearbox sending power to the rear wheels, the sedan is capable of 4.7-second zero-to-60 mph runs. Fuel economy - not likely a concern for buyers in the ultra-luxury segment - is rated at 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.

The Ghost is the lightest Roller - although, at over 5,000 pounds, light is again a relative term - and a well-tuned active air suspension helps it feel smaller than it actually is.

Inside, the Ghost features a suitably opulent and palatial cabin that's packed to the brim with soft leather, fine wood trim and numerous gadgets. Highlights from the standard features list include a navigation system, a 16-speaker premium audio system, massaging front seats, power-closing rear "coach" doors, four-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control and 19-inch wheels. A nearly infinite amount of options are available, and the car can be further personalized with unique paint colors and interior furnishes through Rolls' Bespoke Commission program.

V-Specification
For a limited time only, Rolls-Royce offers a performance variant of the Ghost called V-Specification.

The most notable modification is found by popping the Ghost's long hood. The sedan's direct-injected, twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V12 engine has been massaged to churn out 601 horsepower, an increase of about 30 ponies compared to the regular-production model.

The bulk of the aesthetic upgrades are found inside the car, where the smallest member of the Rolls family gains a panoramic sunroof, massaging seats upholstered in silver leather with contrasting black stitching, a bespoke clock and V-Spec running boards. Piano black trim on the dashboard and the door panels, a 360-degree camera and a V-Spec logo proudly embroidered into the rear armrest round out the major upgrades in the cabin.

Outside, the Ghost V-Specification retains a low-key appearance and the only major upgrades are two chromed exhaust tips and 21-inch part-polished five-spoke alloy wheels lifted straight from the Wraith parts bin. The car can be ordered with a regular or a long wheelbase and buyers can choose from Graphite, Black Sapphire (pictured), Black Kirsch, Arctic White and Infinity Black.

Occupant Safety
Safety features include dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems. An optional Driver's Assistance Systems package brings a lane-departure warning system, automatic high beams, a head-up display and a night-vision camera.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is built on its own dedicated production line at Goodwood, but shares paint, wood and leather workshops with the Phantom series of cars.

Key competitors
The smallest and least expensive offering from Rolls-Royce, the Ghost competes with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Porsche Panamera, Maserati Quattroporte and even the car on which it is based upon - the BMW 7-Series.