First Drive

First drive review: Next-gen Rolls-Royce Ghost offers restrained indulgence, sublime ride

The next-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost was unveiled earlier this month and AutomotiveMap has already been behind the wheel.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Walking into a zero entry pool, you start your journey with one step, slowly and serenely you're emerge in the experience. It's equal parts engaging and relaxing. That same experience is replicated with the new, next-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost.

With restrained proportions and purposeful lines, the aluminum-bodied ultra-luxury sedan takes the best parts of its predecessors from the Goodwood stable and combines them with fresh innovations that make a Ghost riding and driving experience that exceeds the notion of what a Rolls-Royce should be.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The stately Ghost is a perfect match for the British car company's stablemates.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

It was 10 years ago, with the new, modern Ghost, that BMW-owned Rolls-Royce recreated the modern driver's car. Unlike the Phantom, a large car with limousine aspirations, the Ghost is a more personal experience that benefits from its reduced footprint and less regal, though nonetheless austere, appearance.

Ghost buyers are young and fresh, bringing a new idea of luxury to the brand. Most of them drive their cars and while they're not necessarily as eco-conscious about their drive choice as many in their age demographic group, they're conscious of their lifestyle choice, seeing their Rolls-Royce as a respite from the world around them.

The outside and inside design of the Ghost are expected and there's nothing wrong with that. Rolls-Royce has improved the formula offering an upgraded list of features.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The interior of the Ghost is very expected.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

At the front of Ghost there's subtle Pantheon grille lighting between sneering headlamps. A strip of metal between the roof and doors channels raindrops away from entering and exiting occupants eliminating the water curtain that erupts when opening a more pedestrian models's doors.

Inside, the supple luxury of plush upholstery abounds. With leather as soft as silk and comfort in focus, the Ghost carries over the high levels of craftsmanship and artistry expected while employing new techniques. It's part of the Rolls-Royce "Post-Opulent" design philosophy.

The real wood accents and garnishes throughout the cabin provide an authentic environment, turning the page from the lacquer and shine of the Phantom. Here, Ghost projects its personality in an gently commanding manner. Still, the exactness of the craftsmanship shows through.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The Illuminated Fascia is made up of 850 LED lights. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Ghost's Starlight Headliner, consisting of a thousand LED lights that are each cut at a different angle to help vary the intensity of the light, much in the same way the heavens appear at night, contains new shooting star functionality while the Illuminated Fascia includes 850 additional LED stars. The effect is stunning but not too much - restrained but extravagant, much like the vehicle itself.

Riding in style and comfort is only half the equation. Ghost offers a connected and effortless drive experience that does not allow the rigors of the real world to interrupt your time behind the wheel.

Power is plentiful thanks to the company's twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V12 engine. It delivers 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. Larger intake porting has allowed the engine to breathe better and pass along less noise to the cabin, aiding the overall luxury experience. Though low-end torque isn't as readily available as an eager driver might want, there's no doubt that the heavy Ghost is powered properly.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The car's electronics make the Ghost easy to maneuver at high and low speed. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Like the Cullinan, Rolls-Royce's SUV, the piloting process is early effortless. It's made even easier by the all-wheel steering that deploys at higher speed to make lane changes more stable and rounding corners a breeze. At speeds under 40 km/h, the Ghost's steering is led by the front wheels, which makes maneuvering in city traffic nearly as easy as it is in a hot hatch.

The car benefits from parent company BMW's infotainment technology. The system is easy to navigate and the car's head-up display offers turn-by-turn navigation complete with lane choice indication that kept me from getting lost while driving in and around Austin, Texas and its suburbs during a 100-ish mile test drive this week.

Ghost features the first fully-digital instrument cluster offered by the company. Like the infotainment system, it features clean design, easy-to-read displays, and works as advertised.

Rolls-Royce Ghost The car features an all-digital instrument cluster.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Traditionally, Rolls-Royce's motor cars ride smoothly over most terrain. The way this engineering has evolved to accommodate the fresh company lineup was especially apparent when the Cullinan evolved and immediately proved more than capable of delivering a comfortable ride experience over rugged roads.

Ghost takes that a step further, with its variety of underpinnings soaking up everything but the roughest jolt from the deepest pothole. And, it does it all while keeping the riders in the type of silence that is almost eerie... until you realize that you can't hear the landscapers as you pass by and you breathe a sigh of relief realizing that this is a true luxury experience.

And that's what Ghost is all about: a true luxury experience. It's extraordinary. It's easy to drive and indulgent. It's supposed to be.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

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Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shop Markham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stop The axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

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Frightening security

Boston Dynamics' robot to patrol Kia factory

The robot is being tested as a security patrol unit.

Hyundai

Breaking into an auto manufacturing facility was already a very bad idea, but new security tech being tested by Hyundai Motor Group makes it downright terrifying as well. In addition to cameras, sensors, and armed security guards, would-be burglars at a Kia plant in South Korea now have to face off with a semi-autonomous robot dog.

The Boston Dynamics quadruped robot, named Spot, is being tested as a safer and more effective way of providing security patrols to the plant. The dog is one of several robots designed and tested by the firm, which has long terrified the internet with its physically capable electronic beings.

Boston Dynamics Spot Robot The robot uses various sensors to detect danger and intruders.Hyundai

If you haven't seen it, the Boston Dynamics robot dog is frightening enough on its own, so it's an excellent choice to provide factory security. The robot uses an integrated thermal camera and 3D LiDAR to detect people around it, and can monitor high-temperature situations and fire hazards. It can be controlled remotely through a secure webpage, which allows personnel to see what's going on in the factory without putting themselves in danger.

The robot is capable of navigating tight spaces and can identify issues not visible to the human eye. It's also able to semi-autonomously navigate its environment, and has been developed with task management and deep learning-based vision technology. Boston Dynamics says that its tech can be expanded to other types of robot platforms.



The robot dog is currently in the pilot stage at Kia's plant in South Korea. It will be used to support late-night security patrols and increase safety for workers. Hyundai Motor Group will assess the robot's effectiveness and suitability for the job before expanding its use in other industrial sites.

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